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Busch looks to win race for ‘time’s’ sake

Posted Thursday, Mar 26, 2009, 2:46 pm in Employee News

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolls into southern Virginia for this weekend’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at the demanding flat short track of Martinsville Speedway. The event is the sixth of 36 point’s races on the Sprint Cup schedule.

The .526-mile track, built in 1947, is often referred to as a ‘paper clip’ for its unique flat and low-banked oval configuration. Martinsville not only tests the mechanical fortitude of race teams, but patience as well. The 500-lap/263-mile event is marked by bumper-to-bumper racing that chews up brakes and spits out race-car parts in a grinding battle of attrition.

A key part of the prize package to the winner is a grandfather clock, produced by America’s oldest grandfather clock manufacturer—the Ridgeway Clock Company. The grandfather clock has been awarded to the event winner since 1964.

The Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 is the first race that this year’s car owner points will be used to determine the 35 teams guaranteed a starting spot in Sunday’s 43-car field. Prior to this week, the final 2008 car owner standings were used to lock in the top 35. The 2009 owner points will be used for the remainder of the season. Teams not in the top 35 must qualify on time. All seven Dodge teams running the full 36-race Sprint Cup schedule currently sit inside the top-35 in 2009 owner points.

Kurt Busch(No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) enters Sunday’s race in second-place in the driver standings. The event champion in 2002, Busch has earned two top-five and four top-10 finishes in 17 starts at Martinsville along with one pole. For the veteran Busch, a short-track win at Martinsville would mean making ‘more room’ for the prestigious winner’s trophy.

“It’s always a special perk and a bonus because that’s what most drivers shoot for—that piece of hardware at the end of the day,” Busch said of the treasured heirloom. “I think that I won at Martinsville a bit too early in my career because I had no idea that they gave away grandfather clocks when you won there.

“They’re wheeling this thing (clock) in my front door of my house one day, and I was like ‘what are you guys doing, who bought this thing? It was the most beautiful grandfather clock that I’d ever seen. The most ironic thing about winning the clock was that my grandfather passed away the week before (he got the clock), so my clock’s name is ‘Al,’ and it’s sitting right there in my foyer today. It’s the best gift that I could have received after winning a race and losing my grandfather.”

Kasey Kahne(No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger) enters Martinsville sixth in the 2009 driver standings, 26 points behind fifth place and 155 points behind series leader Jeff Gordon. Kahne has improved his finish in every race this season. After finishing 29th in the season opener at Daytona, Kahne has finished 12th, 11th, seventh and fifth, respectively, in the last four races. For Kahne, who is making his 11th career start at Martinsville, success at the tricky half-miler has just as much to do with equipment as it does skill.

“The first time I was here, I could barely get around it (the track),” Kahne said. “I wasn’t even close to qualifying well here. The next year, I was better, and the car drove ten times better than the year before, and we ran second.”
Other notes

AJ Allmendinger(No. 44 Charter Dodge Charger) made his Dodge Motorsports debut last fall at Martinsville, driving the No. 10 Dodge to a 15th-place finish.

Sam Hornish Jr.(No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger) made his Cup debut at Martinsville in the 2007 fall event.

Elliott Sadler(No. 19 Stanley Dodge Charger) will be making his 21st start at Martinsville. His best finish, fifth, came in the 2003 spring event.

David Stremme(No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge Charger) had his best run of the season going last week at Bristol before cutting down a tire with less than 50 laps to go. He still managed to finish 19th.

Reed Sorenson(No. 43 Charter Dodge Charger) will be making his seventh start at Martinsville. Car owner Richard Petty recorded 15 of his 200 career victories at Martinsville.

What you need to know
The Race: Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500
The Date: Sunday, March 29
The Place: Martinsville Speedway; .526-mile oval
The Time: 2 p.m. EDT
The Distance: 500 laps/263 miles
TV: Fox, 1:30 p.m. EDT
Green Flag: Fox, 2:13 p.m. ET (approximately)

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings
(Top 12 after 5 of 36 races)
Jeff Gordon 794
Kurt Busch (Dodge) -76
Clint Bowyer -79
Kyle Busch -85
Carl Edwards -129
Kasey Kahne (Dodge) -155
Tony Stewart -161
Denny Hamlin -163
Jimmie Johnson -167
Matt Kenseth -184
David Reutimann -187
Kevin Harvick -210
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