The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Martinsville Speedway for this weekend's Tums Fast Relief 500. Tums is a fitting sponsor for Sunday's 500-lapper, considering the possible uses for antacids during a given race, particularly at Martinsville.
A great championship fight - and in all likely-hood, the first champion not named Jimmie Johnson since 2005 - heads into the event at the .526-mile paperclip-shaped oval as the top story, but there will be 38 other drivers competing for respect - or revenge. Yes, Martinsville's tight corners and slow pace make it the perfect venue for drivers to dish out some long-overdue payback on that guy who ran them over two or three months back. It is this characteristic alone that make Martinsville races some of the most popular on the Sprint Cup schedule.
Once everyone is done watching the racing and the wrecking, you can be sure all eyes will be on the victory celebration. Martinsville isn't at all the kind of aerodynamic race seen at venues like Talladega, but with the revelations about Chad Knaus's last minute instructions to Jimmie Johnson this past Sunday, you can bet that any post-race burnouts and donuts will be under heavy scrutiny.
You won't want to miss a minute of on-track action for the Cup teams this weekend, and thanks to your friends at SPEED and ESPN, you won't have to. (All times Eastern, but you probably knew that)
Practice - 12:30 p.m. (SPEED)
Practice - 3:30 p.m. (SPEED)
Qualifying - 12 noon (SPEED)
NASCAR Countdown - 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Tums Fast Relief 500 - 1:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Denny Hamlin is the defending race champion. The Virginia native swept the season at Martinsville in 2010 after winning the October 2009 race there as well. He was in the hunt to win this past April before being trapped off the lead lap by a caution just after he had pitted late in the race. Kevin Harvick passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the final laps to pick up the win.
In addition to the Sprint Cup Series, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is in action Saturday. Austin Dillon, grandson of legendary car owner Richard Childress, looks to inch closer to his first championship in that series. SPEED will have coverage of Saturday's Kroger 200 beginning at 1:30 p.m. with the race scheduled to start shortly after 2 p.m.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series has its final off-weekend before all three series compete together over the final three weeks