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« New NASCAR All Star Race Format Places Premium On Winning Segments | Main | Top-35 rule played major role in Martinsville’s late race chaos »

Hamlin should be considered a pre-race favorite at Martinsville

By admin | March 30, 2012

By Richard Allen

 

Coming into this weekend’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at the Martinsville Speedway, driver Denny Hamlin has to be counted among the early pre-race favorites. The native of Chesterfield, Virginia has started off the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season with some impressive runs and now heads to the track which has provided him with a great deal of success throughout his racing career.

After five races thus far in 2012, Hamlin and his Joe Gibbs Racing team have scored a win in Phoenix along with a 4th place result in the season opening Daytona 500. And more, the #11 car started from the pole position last week at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California and looked to have a top-5 finish all but guaranteed until a decision to pit just before rain set in and shortened that race placed the team further back in the pack.

With his car running well and Hamlin seeming reinvigorated after having moved away from the Charlotte area over the off season to the more relaxing environs of Scottsdale, Arizona, it seems as though this driver and team ought to ride into Martinsville under crew chief Darian Grubb on a wave of confidence.

Of Hamlin’s 18 career Sprint Cup victories, one-third have come in his native state of Virginia. Four times he has cruised to victory lane in Martinsville along with another two wins coming at the Richmond International Raceway.

Hamlin has racked up eleven top-10 finishes on the paper clip shaped half-mile at Martinsville in only thirteen career starts there. No doubt, he would like to add another of the prized grandfather clock trophies to the home décor of his new dwelling in Arizona.

Certainly the red hot Tony Stewart, who comes in with two victories already this season and as the most recent winner at Martinsville, will be a contender this Sunday along with other drivers who have done well here in the past such as Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. But in the end, my prediction is that Denny Hamlin will take the win on this tough little track in the Virginia foothills.

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