Hot 20 – Gordon is a favorite to win at Martinsville, Truex and Kurt not so much

The truth, sometimes it is a tough thing to nail down. Sometimes not. Truth is, Jeff Gordon should do well at Martinsville. In the past five events there, the retiring four-time NASCAR champ has a win and four Top Tens. Over the past dozen years, a span of 25 races, Gordon has failed to claim a Top Ten only three times. He finished 20th in the fall of 2010, 14th in the spring of 2012, and finished 12th in the fall of 2014. That leaves 22 Top Tens, 18 Top Fives, and five victories. You just cannot do better than that. The stats do not lie, and after taking ninth this spring, Gordon still has it. That is the truth.

Sometimes, the truth is a little tougher to ascertain. A couple of years ago, a mysterious spin combined with a baffling call to the pits that briefly allowed a teammate to make the Chase caused controversy. Did Clint Bowyer intentionally spin his car? Bowyer denied it and Sprint Cup Series director John Darby is quoted as saying after the race that “I don’t think anybody realistically believes that was the case with the 15 car.” That tune changed quickly, as the truth appeared to be much more conspiratorial than NASCAR first thought. It cost Martin Truex Jr. a Chase position and his job, and he did nothing wrong. It cost Bowyer some credibility, it cost the team a major sponsor, $300,000 in fines and it possibly caused the eventual demise of Michael Waltrip Racing.

Last weekend, did Kevin Harvick, with a car that was barely running, that was barely in the Chase, deliberately spin out Trevor Bayne to save his season at the cost of Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr.? No, says NASCAR. So, we have to accept that Harvick was telling the truth. I mean, not everyone lies to us in order to get out of a sticky situation.

“I got out of the way, and I never even saw (Bayne) until he was by me.”
Kevin Harvick 2015

“I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline…”
Alex Rodriguez 2014

“I had so much wheel, by the time I got to the gas, he was underneath me. I spun out.”
Clint Bowyer 2013

“I take these charges very seriously, and look forward to clearing my good name,”
Michael Vick 2007

“I’m not going to be the Alabama coach.”
Nick Saban 2006

“I have never had a single positive doping test, and I do not take performance-enhancing drugs.”
Lance Armstrong 2004 (among others)

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman”
Bill Clinton 1998

Sure, some may have misled us in the past, but would Kevin Harvick? Nah.

Here are our Hot 20 over the past five events at Martinsville.

1. JEFF GORDON – 5.4 AvFin – (1 WIN, 3 T5, 4 T10)
Has averaged a Top Seven finish going back 45 races and 23 seasons. Expect good things.

2. MATT KENSETH – 6.4 – (0-2-4)
No pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, but should he come across Logano along the way…

3. CLINT BOWYER – 6.8 – (0-2-4)
Author of “The Secrets of My Success.” Harvick has a copy.

4. DENNY HAMLIN – 8.8 – (1-1-3)
You can take that damn roof hatch and…

5. JOEY LOGANO – 9.8 – (0-3-3)
Mr. Three-in-a-Row has never won at Martinsville, but his last three have been Top Fives.

6. KYLE BUSCH – 11.2 – (0-1-1)
Does not believe Gordon can win it all. Next we will hear how he does not like kittens.

7. KEVIN HARVICK – 13.4 – (0-0-3)
If Karma is on duty this weekend…

8. GREG BIFFLE – 13.6 – (0-0-2)
MWR refugee Brian Pattie to be his crew chief next season.

9. DALE EARNHARDT JR. – 14.4 – (1-2-3)
Best 21 finishes at Martinsville boasts a 6.3 average; his worst 10 finishes…27.7

10. TONY STEWART – 14.5 – (0-1-1)
What is probably no longer equates into what was.

11. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 15.0 – (1-3-3)
Used to own this place, but outside the Top 30 his last two attempts.

12. CARL EDWARDS – 15.4
Expected Harvick to get penalized after Talladega. He probably even expects a Top Ten Sunday.

13. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 16.2 – (0-2-3)
While his 2014 visits were a write-off, he was the runner-up last spring.

14. ARIC ALMIROLA – 16.2 – (0-0-1)
Raised in Daytona. I wonder where he got the racing bug?

15. JAMIE MCMURRAY – 17.0 – (0-0-3)
Looked decent last week, at least until he turned all smoky.

16. PAUL MENARD – 17.6 – (0-0-1)
Best non-Chaser last week, but Martinsville is really not his kind of place.

17. DANICA PATRICK – 20.4 – (0-0-1)
Never thought you would see her name on this list again this season, did you?

18. KASEY KAHNE – 20.8 – (0-1-1)
Best thing about Martinsville will be the trip home.

19. KURT BUSCH – 21.2 – (1-1-1)
Won in the spring last year, but has been outside the top dozen 16 of his past 17 starts here.

20. CASEY MEARS – 22.6
Had a pair of Top Tens at Martinsville in 2008. None since.

22. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 24.2 – (0-0-1)
Was sixth in the spring. That ought to count for something.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


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