NASCAR & Auto Racing

Race day | Pair of Hendrick aces are hard to beat at Martinsville

A few more things to think about while waiting and watching what's going on at that short, tight track in Martinsville, Va.:

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

1. A 500-lap race at Martinsville tests a driver's stamina and patience. The weather will be cool Sunday, and the winning driver will be somebody who keeps his cool, too.

2. Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have won seven of the past 11 Martinsville races. Their cars were the top two in both practices Saturday.

3. No driver outside the top 12 has won a Chase race this year. But Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya and Martin Truex Jr. were all solid in Saturday's practices.

OBSERVATIONS

In one of this year's presidential debates, John McCain said Barack Obama doesn't know the difference between "tactics" and "strategy" when it comes to waging war. Regardless of how you feel about that, the point has racing applications these days. This whole sport, from the top down, seems to be so focused on clearing the day-to-day hurdles of getting from one race to another that nobody is paying much attention to where things might be heading long term. There's danger in that, I fear.

Martinsville track president Clay Campbell joked the other day that the old scoreboard in this track's infield "worked fine until we turned it on." It showed only the top five and, depending on how many bulbs burned out, sometimes even that was an educated guess. But now the track had erected a new large scoreboard that has three huge television screens and a circular message area where the running order can be scrolled. It's a very nice addition.

JUST THE FACTS

What: Tums 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: 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Weather: Sunny and in the lower 60s.

TV: ABC.

Radio: Motor Racing Network.

OBSERVER PICKS

DAVID POOLE

The No. 48 team just won't ever - never - ever let anybody else have any fun in the Chase.

Winner: Jimmie Johnson.

JIM UTTER

O keep thinking Jeff Gordon's first win of the season is right around corner. Perhaps this weekend, seeing is believing.

Winner: Jeff Gordon.

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