by Chris Leone, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I do weekly Fantasy Pick'Em columns here at OPR, as well as the occasional opinion and analysis piece. I also provide the IZOD IndyCar Series coverage. For more on that, head to my site, OpenWheelAmerica.com. My Twitter handle is @christopherlion.March 30, 2011 1:46 pm UTC No Comments
After getting my butt thoroughly kicked by school for the past six weeks – you know, to perfectly coincide with racing season – I’m feeling a bit like Rocky at the end of every Rocky movie – brains turned to mush, black eyes, bruises everywhere, generally in pain. But I like to think I’ve fought through the worst, and after making some savvy picks early in the season (and yes, I did call Trevor Bayne to win the Daytona 500), I’m back to ruin my reputation and good luck for the rest of the year.
So, three picks at Martinsville – but who?
Jeff Gordon: I saw Bob Pockrass make this pick on Twitter earlier today, saying he liked the combination of Gordon and Alan Gustafson at Martinsville. I can’t say I disagree. You only need look at the statistics to realize that Gordon was ripping off wins at Martinsville before Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin started taking over at the track. Martinsville is a track where both driver and crew chief need to effectively manage the car, and I think Gustafson is as trustworthy as any crew chief in that department.
Denny Hamlin: After the engine woes at Joe Gibbs Racing over the past few weeks, you’d think this would be a counter-intuitive pick. I mean, the problem hasn’t been solved yet, and it won’t be considered as much until we stop seeing engine failures across the board. But Hamlin is a Virginia native and a Martinsville standout, and the folks at JGR are too good to stay down for long. This could very easily be the weekend where they begin to solve the problem.
Joey Logano: Wait, two Gibbs cars? Am I crazy? Maybe a little. (Remember. College. No sleep. Bad dieting. So on and so forth.) But consider the following – of active drivers at Martinsville, Logano has the fourth-best average finish, a 13.0, and a driver rating of 81.0, better than the ratings of four of the current top 12 drivers in points. And at 31st in owners points, the No. 20 team can’t afford to spend much more time in the back of the pack.