The years have been kind to Martinsville Speedway. The track has been kind to the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team.
Seven-time Martinsville Speedway winner Jeff Gordon first raced here in the early 1990′s. While a lot has changed since then, Gordon and the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger team are expecting much of the same this Sunday.
“This is the track that I believe has changed the least,” said Gordon, who is fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings and 34 markers back with four races to go in the 2013 season. “The track, the setups and the tires have changed the least since I started racing in NASCAR.
“Martinsville isn’t about aerodynamics. Even though the cars have gotten faster, the way you drive the track, how you use the brakes, how you roll the center (of the corner) and how you apply the throttle hasn’t changed drastically here versus other tracks.”
The same can be said about chassis setups.
“Compared to other tracks, the setups at Martinsville have probably changed the least – even with the introduction of newer generation cars,” said No. 24 crew chief Alan Gustafson. “The setup here is not aero-dependent. There may be significant changes to the setup in the future when we’re smarter.
“Or at least when we think we’re smarter.”
In 41 starts at the 0.526-mile track, Gordon’s seven pole positions, 26 top-five finishes and 33 top-10s are tops among active drivers. He has completed 20,269 laps in competition at the Virginia track with 3,515 of those as the leader.
“It took me a while to figure out how to get around here,” said Gordon. “During a test early in my career we were just doing lap after lap after lap and finally it just clicked for me. We started having success after that. With all the experience and success that we’ve had here, that can carry over from race to race and even season to season.
“Because of that, we always seem to enter a Martinsville race weekend with confidence.”
And the plan is to leave Martinsville with a victory.