As the March 29 STP 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race draws close, all it takes is a look back at last season for a snapshot of what makes the on-track action at Martinsville Speedway so unique and special.
“We know Martinsville Speedway produces lots of beating and banging and pushing and shoving during a race, but sometimes in all of that excitement, the closeness of the competition can be lost,” said Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell. “When you look back at some of the stats from last year’s Cup races here, like 33 lead changes in last spring’s STP 500 or three different leaders in the final 10 laps last fall, that’s all pretty amazing.”
Last spring Kurt Busch’s margin of victory over Jimmie Johnson in the STP 500 was an amazingly slim .263 seconds. In the fall Dale Earnhardt’s win in the Goody's® Headache Relief Shot® 500 was almost as close, just .346 seconds. Remarkably there were three lead changes in the final 10 laps with Earnhardt finally wrestling the lead from Tony Stewart on lap 497.
When Busch took the lead for good with 10 laps remaining on the way to winning the 2014 STP 500, it marked the 33rd lead change in the race. There were 24 lead changes in the Goody's® Headache Relief Shot® 500 before Earnhardt finally wrestled the lead away with three laps remaining.
Then there is the excitement created by the close-quarters racing at Martinsville. There were 14 caution periods in the STP 500, 15 in the Goody's® Headache Relief Shot® 500. And despite all of the wrecks and spins, cars are most always able to keep running hard despite the damage. There were a remarkable 25 cars on the lead lap at the the end ot the STP 500 in 2014 and 22 lead laps cars when Earnhardt took the checkered in the Goody's® Headache Relief Shot® 500.
Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who has been involved in plenty of Martinsville excitement, understands why the track is so wildly popular; in fact, it’s one of his favorites.
“I love this track. I think it’s so entertaining, the history, the feel that you have when you come to this track is unlike any other race track that we go to,” Johnson said during an appearance at the track last week. “I’ll meet celebrities far and wide and they always ask: ‘which race should I come to, where should I go?’ And I always tell them here. It’s just different. I know that people will appreciate the vintage feel and the history and the type of racing that takes place here.”
Advance ticket prices for the STP 500 begin at just $45.