By Jim Utter
Three things to watch
1 . Jimmie Johnson has seven wins at Martinsville, including last fall, and starts from the pole. Enough said.
2. It’s virtually impossible for drivers to avoid others at Martinsville, so inevitably Tony Stewart and Joey Logano will find themselves racing around each other. Who knows what will happen?
Never miss a local story.
3 . Denny Hamlin plans to watch Sunday’s race from atop his pit box as Mark Martin drives his No. 11 Toyota. Martin qualified poorly but don’t bet against him.
Three picks for your fantasy team from Jim Utter:
Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers
Virginia honors Wendell Scott: The Commonwealth of Virginia honored former NASCAR driver Wendell Scott this week with the erection of a historical highway marker in his hometown of Danville, Va. Scott was the first African-American to win a race in what is now known as the Sprint Cup Series.
“Wendell Scott is very much a part of NASCAR’s and Virginia’s history,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton. “We join others in thanking the Commonwealth of Virginia for the honor they are bestowing on Mr. Scott, one that is well deserved.”
Scott, who retired from racing in 1973 and died in 1990, enjoyed a prolific career. In 1959, he won both the NASCAR Sportsman Division Virginia championship and the Sportsman Division championship at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Va. In 1957, he finished third in the Virginia standings behind NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett. Last year, Scott was among the 25 nominees up for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Swan Racing makes personnel changes: Swan Racing announced that Tony Eury Jr. has been named competition director for the team, replacing Steve Hmeil. Steven Lane has been named crew chief for the No. 30 Toyota driven by David Stremme.
“We made changes in the front office today that we believe will have a long term benefits for the team going forward," said Swan Racing owner Brandon Davis. "This team is committed to making progress every week.”
Final practice update: Clint Bowyer finished final practice Saturday with the fastest average lap speed (97.018 mph). Jimmie Johnson was second, Carl Edwards was third, Greg Biffle was fourth and Jeff Burton was fifth. During the session, Joey Logano and Johnson made contact and each required some minor repairs to their car.
Where: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway
Track type: .526-mile paved flat oval
Race distance: 500 laps, 263 miles
Weather: Sunny with high in the mid-70s.
TV: Coverage begins at noon on Fox. Green flag is 1:16 p.m. ET
Radio: Motor Racing Network