This article is part of our Weekly Preview series.
This week we visit the circuit's shortest track, kicking off the Round of 8 in the Chase for the Cup at Martinsville Speedway, nestled in the foothills of southern Virginia. After visiting superspeedways and intermediate ovals for most of the Chase, we swing to the other extreme for this week's First Data 500. With the big shift in racing style, the drivers had better be prepared for the surprises that the bullring at Martinsville will provide.
Martinsville Speedway is best described as a "paperclip" shaped track for its twin 800 foot straight-aways capped with hair-pin corners banked at a modest 12 degrees. Racing at Martinsville requires mental toughness, physical stamina, and razor sharp concentration, and that doesn't even include the durability of your equipment which takes a brutal pounding on this abusive small oval. So, survival will be the name of the game this weekend as the Chase drivers take to the short track in southern Virginia. Martinsville Speedway demands the ultimate performance from both the driver and the car, so it is fitting that this bullring is one of the pivotal races that crowns NASCAR's champion. Some of the top contenders for this season's championship are excellent short track drivers, so we should see some real fireworks at the front of the pack this Sunday afternoon. For those eight fortunate drivers advancing to the Round of 8 of the Chase, the stakes will be very high in this 500-lap brawl. Among those are the Joe Gibbs Racing teams of