MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Martinsville Speedway is Jeff Gordon’s seventh heaven. For now.
In 37 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts at the 0.526-mile track, Gordon has seven victories and seven poles. His average start is seventh, while his average finish is, you guessed it, seventh. But the four-time Cup champion hopes to better those numbers after Sunday’s running of the TUMS Fast Relief 500.
“I always go to Martinsville with a lot of confidence,” said Gordon, who is 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings and 82 behind the leader. “It’s a very challenging track, but we seem to get into a rhythm and seem to be very competitive here – no matter the cars, the tires or any other changes that we’ve had over the years.
“There are tracks that I like better, but there are few tracks that I feel as confident as I do than when we go to Martinsville.”
While his seven wins are the most among active drivers, Gordon’s 24 top-five finishes are 11 more than any other driver competing this weekend. His 30 top-10s and laps led are also tops among active drivers – the 85-time NASCAR Sprint Cup winner is 19 laps led shy of 3,000 at the Virginia paper-clip track.
“The key is just trying to get deep in the corners without overdriving them,” said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. “To me the entry sets up the exit. It’s such a tight radius corner, and brakes are so important. How you get into the corner helps you roll through the middle of the corner and get back to the throttle early. So it’s really just how deep you can get into the corner – without cooking the brakes – while still getting the car to turn in the middle.”
In his last 17 starts in Martinsville, Gordon has just one finish outside the top 10, and that was a 20th-place finish here last year. His last win occurred here in 2005 when he swept both events.
“We’ve run well and led laps recently, we just haven’t got the win to show for it,” Gordon said. “At times during some of the races, I thought we had the best car. “But it doesn’t seem like we’ve had the winning combination at the end of the races.”