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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series STP 500 heads to Martinsville Speedway for the first half-mile track race of the season. The green flag is set to fly Monday afternoon with Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and the rest of the field set to compete for 500 laps in search of a trip to Victory Lane.
Qualifying for the race was canceled due to inclement weather which eventually pushed the race from Sunday to Monday. Since the lineup could not be determined by qualifying laps, drivers will roll off based on owner points with Truex starting on the pole.
In case you were wondering how snowy conditions were at the short track, here’s a closer look:
Nine-time Martinsville winner and seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will be looking to secure his first win of the season. In addition to the checkered flags, Johnson has led 20.6 percent of all laps at the track in addition to posting a 7.7 average finish. The race couldn’t come at a better time for Johnson, who is beginning to build momentum off a top-10 finish last week at Auto Club Speedway.
If Johnson were to take home another checkered flag this weekend, he’d become the third driver in Cup Series history to have 10 or more wins at multiple tracks; the No. 48 driver of course has 11 wins at Dover. He would go on to join NASCAR Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip and Richard Petty.
Truex will be looking to get his second-straight win in the series, though if he made the trip to Victory Lane, it’d be a career first for him at the track. The No. 78 started on the outside pole en route to a second-place finish last November before going on to win the Cup Series championship. Runner-up to Truex at Homestead was Kyle Busch, who is no stranger to Martinsville. The No. 18 driver has two wins and five consecutive top fives in his last five races at the track and is hoping to take home his first checkered flag of the season on Monday.
Finally, we have to mention the hometown kid Denny Hamlin. A native of Chesterfield, Va., Hamlin has had success at Martinsville throughout his career. Five of his 31 career Cup wins have come at the track, however he has been up and down as of late, finishing 30th in the spring last season only to place seventh in the fall. Either way, this season Hamlin has been strong with four top-six finishes in five races.