Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
Martinsville Speedway marks the seventh stop of 10 in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, as it hosts Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500, the final short track race of the year. All eyes will be on Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will make his return to the series after missing two weeks with concussion symptoms.
Earnhardt Jr. came out of the gate strong in initial practice, posting the second-fastest time. But even at less than two-tenths of a second slower than polesitter Jimmie Johnson, he’ll start 20th in the race itself, alongside Kurt Busch. Regan Smith, who replaced Earnhardt Jr. the past two weeks, will see a 105-race start streak come to an end on Sunday, but he’ll run the final two races for Phoenix Racing and join JR Motorsports for a full Nationwide Series slate in 2013 as a reward for his efforts.
Up front, Johnson and Brian Vickers will share the first row when the field comes to the green. Johnson knows this race is his best opportunity to ...