NASCAR & Auto Racing

Weather or not, fans are ready for a race day

A little more to consider while watching the weather and waiting for a green flag at Viriginia's Martinsville Speedway:

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

1. Jeff Gordon starts first and Jimmie Johnson 10th at a track where they’ve won eight of the past 10 races.

Neither is off to a torrid start so the Martinsville race could be good medicine. Gordon was fastest in Saturday’s first practice while Johnson led the second.

2. Jamie McMurray is outside the top 35 in points and was characterized as being “self-loathing” by a national wire service writer this week. But McMurray qualified fifth fastest for the race and was second best in Saturday’s final practice.

3. It’s nice to have some different faces in the top 10 starting spots, and it’s a nice mix of new and old, too. Aric Almirola starts third and David Ragan starts fourth, while veteran Ken Schrader goes off from the No. 7 spot.

OBSERVATIONS

 The weather isn’t doing NASCAR fans a lot of favors so far this year. Sunday's Martinsville forecast can only be described as marginal – cloudy and downright cold with a menacing threat of showers. Instead of talking about the fans that don’t show up, we ought to give credit to the ones who do in these kinds of conditions.

 You wouldn’t believe how many people who work in television moaned privately to me this weekend about being ordered by bosses to shoot video of Tony Stewart’s haircut. But after seeing what passes for journalism on TV these days, maybe you would.

 NASCAR told Michael Waltrip Racing it couldn’t swap the owner points David Reutimann earned in the No. 00 to the No. 44 now that he’s switched cars. But Sam Hornish Jr. was allowed to use points he had nothing to do with earning when Penske Racing did a swap with Kurt Busch’s car. Don’t ask me to explain why that makes the slightest bit of sense. Because it doesn’t.

JUST THE FACTS

What: Goody’s Cool Orange 500.

Where: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

Track type: .526-mile oval with 12 degrees of banking in the turns..

Race distance: 500 laps (263 miles).

When: 2 p.m. Sunday.

Weather: Cloudy and in the low 40s with a 30 percent chance of showers.

TV: Fox Sports.

Radio: Motor Racing Network.

OBSERVER PICKS

DAVID POOLE

Jeff Gordon wouldn’t be outside the top 12 if he hadn’t wrecked at Las Vegas. Of course, if a frog had wings he wouldn’t need strong hind legs to jump. Martinsville is where Gordon’s season takes wing.

Winner: Jeff Gordon

JIM UTTER

Denny Hamlin said Friday he knows all about recent success for Hendrick Motorsports at Martinsville because he has spent a lot of time right behind them. He's ready to change the result.

Winner: Denny Hamlin

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