CONCORD, N.C. – Hendrick Motorsports and the NASCAR Cup Series return to short-track racing this Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. The event marks the first of two races to be held at the .526-mile facility located in Southern Virginia.

RELATED: Teams look to add to historic Martinsville record

Martinsville’s history can be traced to the beginning of the Cup Series. Commonly known as "the paperclip," it’s the only track to host the sport’s top division in every season. As for the layout, the track is a traditional, low-banked short track with only 12 degrees in the turns. Passing often requires encouragement from the trailing vehicle in the form of a push to the rear bumper, leading to tempers flaring more often than not. 

For the fourth time this season, the updated low downforce rules package will be in effect. Richmond Raceway was the first short track to utilize the package and saw Kyle Larson drive to victory ahead of Josh Berry in the second position.

Hendrick Motorsports' and Martinsville have a rich history dating back to the year the team first went Cup Series racing in 1984. All Star Racing (as it was known at the time) won their first race with Geoff Bodine behind the wheel of the No. 5 entry. In total, the team has visited victory lane 27 different times with eight different drivers, the highest number of wins at any track by one organization.

Current vice chairman of Hendrick Motorsports Jeff Gordon was responsible for nine of those wins while Jimmie Johnson equaled that tally. Darrell Waltrip is the only other driver to win multiple times for Rick Hendrick's team as he earned four checkered flags at this track. In addition to Bodine, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, and William Byron each taken home a single Martinsville clock for the team. Elliott, Bowman and Byron's wins have come in the last five races at the Virginia venue.

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This weekend will mark the return of Elliott to the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native has been sidelined since early March after suffering a fractured tibia from a snowboarding accident. Sunday afternoon will mark his first Cup Series action since a runner-up finish at Auto Club Speedway in February. Elliott has had success at the .526-mile venue in the past as he claimed victory there on his way to the 2020 Cup Series championship. He has five top-five finishes and nine top-10s in 15 races there. Martinsville is where Elliott has led the most laps (957) and has the most stage wins (six). 

Byron will begin the weekend as the defending race winner from Martinsville’s spring race. In 2022, he and Elliott put on a dominating performance as the pair led a combined total of 397 of the 403 laps. Byron has four straight top-seven finishes at the track. The 25-year-old driver enters with a pair of wins in 2023 as he looks to earn his third victory of the season and give the No. 24 car its 100th win. Having led 117 laps at Richmond two weeks ago with the same rules package, the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet team should have every reason to be excited about Sunday's race. 

Racing in Virginia often leads to success for Bowman. Of his seven Cup Series victories, two have come in the state with wins at both Richmond and Martinsville, both in 2021. Outside of the paperclip-shaped track, the No. 48 Ally Racing team has gotten off to a hot start through the first eight races of 2023. Bowman currently leads the series in average finish (9.88) and is tied for the most top-10 finishes (six). He'll aim to give Hendrick Motorsports back-to-back wins on short tracks in 2023 on Sunday afternoon. 

Throughout his career, Larson would be the first to tell you that Martinsville is not his favorite track. However, in recent years, the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet has made significant improvement at the half-mile facility. In his last three starts, Larson has started first on two occasions and even netted a runner-up finish in the most recent race there. Despite an eventful race at Bristol Motor Speedway’s dirt layout last weekend, the Elk Grove, California, native leads the Cup Series in laps led with 438. He’ll look to earn his first Martinsville victory this weekend.

Crew chiefs Cliff Daniels (No. 5), Alan Gustafson (No. 9), Rudy Fugle (No. 24) and Blake Harris (No. 48) will be back leading their teams this weekend after serving four-race suspensions. 

RELATED: Every Hendrick Motorsports Martinsville win

Here’s what you need to know to catch this weekend’s action. 


Group practice will begin at 4:35 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 15, and will be broadcast on FS2. Qualifying will follow practice and begin with coverage at 5:20 p.m. ET on FS2. Elliott will be in Group A, while Bowman, Larson and Byron will be part of Group B.


The 400-lap Cup Series main event is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 16, and will be broadcast on FS1.


Cup Series broadcast will be on MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).


Yes. Download the FOX Sports Live app for online coverage. Fans can also keep up with the action on Twitter by following @TeamHendrick.  


It varies by location, but this link allows viewers to find the channels by entering their zip code and selecting their television provider.  

Data provided by Racing Insights 

27: The number of wins by Hendrick Motorsports at Martinsville. This is the most wins by one team at any track. 

39: The amount of victories for the organization is the state of Virginia. The squad has won in the Old Dominion state at least once in the 28 different seasons, including the last four.

98.51: The percentage of laps led (in the 2022 spring race-397 of 403 laps) is the highest ever for Hendrick Motorsports in one race. 

873: Hendrick Motorsports has led this many laps in the Cup Series this season. The mark leads all other teams in the sport’s top division and is more than the combined total of the teams that are second through fifth in laps led this year.

10,501: The number of laps that the team has led at Martinsville. They are the only team to lead over 10,000 laps at a track.