After taking the Easter weekend off, the NASCAR Cup Series returns to action Saturday night at Martinsville Speedway with the top-two drivers in the points standings on the front row for the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 but in reverse order. Points leader Denny Hamlin will start on the front row, in the second position, alongside pole sitter and second driver in the standings, Joey Logano.
Logano is going after a third-straight win for Ford.
NASCAR’s formula for determining race starting grids without traditional qualifying sessions includes the owner points standings and the finishing order and fastest laps from the most recent race. Hamlin and Logano’s team’s positions in the owner standings mirror those of their drivers. Also, Logano won the most recent race, the March 29 rain-delayed Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Hamlin finished third.
“NASCAR and Bristol Motor Speedway did a great job with the dirt race, but, yes, I’m ready to get back onto some asphalt,” Hamlin said. “Martinsville is always a place we take confidence to, even when we know we need to keep making improvements to our short-track program.”
Hamlin heads into Saturday’s race as a five-time Martinsville winner and his odds for the win have decreased dramatically over the past few days. Fans should however only use the best motorport betting sites here for their wagers and flutters.
William Byron will start third, sharing row two on the grid with Logano’s Team Penske teammate, Ryan Blaney.
“Martinsville Speedway is always difficult, no matter how many times you’ve raced there,” Byron said. “You have to balance the entry of the corner to how you turn in the middle, all while not allowing the guy behind you to get underneath you on the exit of the corner. You want to be aggressive enough to make up ground but also not overly aggressive that you lose track position early on. It’s a track that requires patience and the knowledge of when to push it and when to save. It’s a challenge, for sure, but I enjoy it. It makes it tough on the drivers to get around there.”
One of Byron’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates and reigning Cup Series champion Chase Elliott will start fifth. Elliott heads into the Martinsville race as the track’s most recent race winner in the penultimate race of the 2020 season.
“Last year’s win at Martinsville was huge for us,” Elliott said. “It’s great to know that we’ve had some good runs there, but you always have to keep in mind that your past success doesn’t equal success in the future. It never has, and I don’t think it ever will; that’s just racing. So I think for us, we will have some good information from last year, and I look forward to getting to Martinsville this weekend and seeing what we can do.”
Elliott will share the third row with Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who finished second at Bristol.
Martin Truex Jr., who dominated the Bristol Dirt Race and is the defending winner of the Blue-Emu 500 and winner of two of the last three races at Martinsville, will start seventh Saturday. Ryan Newman will alongside Truex in the fourth row in position eight.
Other top-10 starters Saturday night will include Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski.
BLUE-EMU MAXIMUM PAIN RELIEF 500 STARTING LINEUP