2020 Cup Series Preview: Martinsville 1

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk | Getty Images

“Friday Night Lights?” Not hardly. Instead, “Wednesday Night Lights” will take over the helm, as the NASCAR Cup Series continues its southern trek with a night race at Martinsville Speedway Wednesday night. 

It will mark the first time that Martinsville will host a complete Cup Series race at night. 

After a brief race in high-downforce conditions at Atlanta Motor Speedway, low-downforce will again be the aero package drivers will have to drive in at Martinsville. 

Ryan Blaney will start on the pole after the starting order was determined by random draw. It is the 26-year-old’s first start on the pole since March 10, 2019 at Phoenix Raceway. Through 10 races, Blaney has collected four top-five finishes with his most recent one coming at Atlanta, where the No. 12 Ford for Team Penske finished fourth. 

Fellow Penske teammates in Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano also finished in the top 10 (ninth and 10th, respectively) at Atlanta, which marked the second time all three Cup drivers for the team finished in the top 10 together (May 28 at Charlotte). Both Keselowski and Logano have two wins on the season (tied for the most among the field) are top five in points (second and fourth in points, respectively). Logano will start third, while Keselowski will start sixth. 

The current leader in points, along with the most recent race winner in Kevin Harvick, will start 10th. With the win at Atlanta, Harvick has finished in the top 10 in nine of 10 races this season. Harvick’s 542 laps led and his average finish of sixth are both first among the field. In Harvick’s past five races at Martinsville, the No. 4 has finished in the top 10. 

Martin Truex Jr. picked up the most recent win at Martinsville last October. Despite a shaky start in the early going this season due to mechanical troubles, Truex has begun to find a groove this season, as the 39-year-old has finished in the top 10 in five of his past six races. The stretch has vaulted the No. 19 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing into the top five in points (fifth with 334). Truex will start fifth. 

Among all active drivers in the Cup Series, Jimmie Johnson has the most victories at Martinsville (nine). Despite the success, most recently, the 44-year-old for Hendrick Motorsports has finished outside the top 10 in his past six races at the track. In his final year as a full-time driver, Johnson currently sits 13th in points, third among all four Hendrick teammates (Elliott is third, Bowman is eighth and Byron is 17th). Johnson will start 21st

Stage lengths for the race will be 130-130-240. Weather permitting, coverage for the race will begin at 7:00 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1. 

Here is the starting lineup: https://www.jayski.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2020/06/08/2020-11cup-lineup.pdf

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