STP Gas Booster 500 Martinsville Race Preview
April 3, 2013
The STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway (0.526-mile oval, Martinsville, Virginia)
Sunday, April 7, 1:00 pm ET
The No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion
The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion
THE NEWS AND NOTES
· A STRONG SECOND: While his string of four-consecutive top-five finishes came to an end two weeks ago at Auto Club Speedway, Keselowski is still off to the best start of his career. Sitting second in the driver standings, Keselowski has an average finishing position of 7.4 over the first five races. This is a 10.2-position improvement over last year at this same time
· MARTINSVILLE FLASHBACK: In his last visit to Martinsville Speedway in the fall of 2012, Keselowski was in the midst of a title fight – which he ultimately won – when his weekend got off to a rocky start after he qualified 32nd for the event. Calmly, Keselowski worked his way through the field for a sixth-place finish, a result that was key in his run to the Cup Series title.
· BIG WEEKEND: In addition to his duties driving the “Blue Deuce,” Keselowski will also don the hats of team owner and fan this weekend. His two Brad Keselowski Racing entries will be competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville on Saturday afternoon, the same day his beloved Michigan Wolverines play in their first NCAA Basketball Final Four game since 1993.
· DISCOUNT TIRE COMMERCIAL: Keselowski and Penske Racing teammate, Joey Logano, are the stars of a new television commercial for Discount Tire that will make its debut next week.
· ALL ABOUT POINTS: After five races this season, Joey Logano finds himself positioned ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings following his third-place finish at Auto Club Speedway two weeks ago. The ninth-place position is the highest Logano has ever found himself after the first five races to start a season. In his rookie year of 2009, Logano was 34th in points after five races. In 2010, he was 17th, 2011 he was 29th and last season he was 13th after the first five races.
· STATS TELL THE STORY: Despite a bit of late-race bad luck so far this year, the stats actually tell the story of how good Logano has been to start the 2013 season. He actually ranks in the top-10 in almost all the NASCAR Loop Data statistical ranks, including ninth in overall driver rating. He’s also top 10 in Average Running Position (sixth), Fastest Laps Run (fifth), Quality Passes (fourth) and Fastest in Traffic (sixth).
· CREW CHIEF AND GOLF CHAMPION: Logano, his Penske Racing IndyCar teammate Helio Castroneves and Logano’s crew chief, Todd Gordon, all played in the Shell Houston Open Pro-Am last week. Both Castroneves’ team and Gordon’s team won as there was a morning session and afternoon session winner.
Race: STP Gas Booster 500
Track: Martinsville Speedway
Date: Sunday, April 7
Race Start Time: 1:00 pm ET
Radio Broadcast: Live on MRN, 1:00 pm ET
TV Schedule - Sunday: 1:00 pm ET, STP Gas Booster 500 (FOX)
THE Q & A
BRAD KESELOWSKI, NO. 2 MILLER LITE FORD
YOU SEEM TO HAVE TAKEN TO MARTINSVILLE OVER THE LAST TWO SEASONS. WHAT’S THE REASON WHY?
“Martinsville is a place where I have really mixed emotions about. Early in my career that was a place where I really couldn’t figure out, to be honest. Now the last few times we have been there I feel like we have been exceptionally strong. We didn’t qualify as well as we wanted to last fall and started in the back, but by the end of the race we came on really well. I think going back to Martinsville we are a lot smarter, I am a lot wiser as to what I need and I think this year I have to be honest – I am going in feeling like we can win the race and might be one of the favorites.”
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO START THE YEAR SO WELL?
“I can tell you it is a big weight off our shoulders to come out of the gate so strong. It is a quick way of quieting all those that said when we switched to Ford we were going to be in a lot of trouble. That is really big for us at Penske Racing and big for me personally. It shows the strength we have at every layer, whether as a company, as a team or as a driver and crew chief combination. It is something I am exceptionally proud of.”
JOEY LOGANO, NO. 22 SHELL-PENNZOIL FORD
HAVE YOU PUT THE AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY RACE BEHIND YOU?
“You have to always look forward in this sport. If you linger on things, you will only go so far. So I’ve been focusing on Martinsville from the time we left California. It was good that we had an off weekend so everyone got a little rest before the upcoming stretch of races, but with the way we have been running, I want to keep the momentum going. So I’m ready to get back at it and move on. I know our team is ready to keep racing as well.”
WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ON HOW YOUR TEAM IS RUNNING?
“Our speed has been there every single week. You can go back and look at each race thus far this year and pinpoint one thing that happened that kept us from getting the finish we should have from fuel pickup issues to my speeding down pit road to getting wrecked at Bristol. We have been fast every weekend and we’ve been there. So we just need to put it all together now. Once we do, I feel we can win multiple races this year and that makes me