ETC.: Crew chief Jason Ratcliff feels "we had great cars at Phoenix and Bristol this season already with Matt so I'm hoping to have similar success with our Husky Toyota at Martinsville. Martinsville is unique when it comes to set-ups. It seems like short tracks where aerodynamics aren't that big of a factor, a package that runs well there usually continues to run well even with this year's rules packages."
17 RICKY STENHOUSE JR., Ford
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 12th, only six points out of the top 10.
MARTINSVILLE RECORD: Will be making his Cup debut.
LOOKING AHEAD: Stenhouse has heard all the "war stories" about how tough Martinsville is and how hard it is to keep your cool at the flat, half-mile track. And for that reason, Stenhouse just wants "to come out of the weekend with a clean race car and a solid finish. If we can do that, all of us on the 17 team will be happy."
LOOKING BACK: Stenhouse finished 20th at California to give him five top-20 finishes in the first five races of the season. The rookie driver has completed every lap so far.
ETC.: Car owner Jack Roush has been very happy with Stenhouse's performance so far in 2013. "Ricky has been outstanding," said Roush. "He has all the enthusiasm and motivation, but he has managed to temper that against the realities of Sprint Cup racing. He has been patient with me and his team and he is getting the most out of his experience. He's doing what he needs to do and he's making the best investment of his time for what will follow."
78 KURT BUSCH, Chevrolet
Team: Furniture Row Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 13th, eight points out of the top 10.
MARTINSVILLE RECORD: One win and four top-10 finishes in 25 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Busch said, "Martinsville Speedway is called a paper clip, but I call it a parking lot. It's tough, it's flat and everybody is beating and banging on each other all day long. You can't get away from the guys pounding on you from behind. Protecting your brakes and the rear tires are essential if you're going to have a good finish there. No question, Martinsville has been one of the toughest tracks on me over the years."
LOOKING BACK: A pit-road speeding penalty put Busch a lap down, but he rallied in the final 50 laps to finish fifth for his second straight top-five finish.
ETC.: The last time Busch had three consecutive top-five finishes were the first three races of the 2005 season. But he hopes to make it three in a row with another top-five finish at Martinsville this weekend. "Our focus right now is to continue our recent success," said Busch. "We tested for Martinsville at Spokane (Wash.) Raceway following the California race and feel we'll be ready for the challenge this weekend in our Furniture Row/Serta Chevrolet SS."
15 CLINT BOWYER, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 14th, eight points out of the top 10.
MARTINSVILLE RECORD: Will be seeking his third straight top-10 finish and fourth in the last five races.
LOOKING AHEAD: Bowyer is sure to be asked a number of questions this week about the spring race a year ago at Martinsville. It was his decision to make it three-wide on the deciding restart that triggered a multi-car accident that allowed fifth-place Ryan Newman to score the win. "I saw an opening and went for it," said Bowyer at the time. "I knew it was my only shot (at winning the race). We had a real good car in both races last year (leading 154 laps in the fall event before finishing fifth), so we are looking forward to this weekend."
LOOKING BACK: Bowyer ran in the top 10 for most of the California race before suffering engine failure with only 16 laps remaining. As a result, he finished 35th to drop out of the top 10.
ETC.: Bowyer said, "I love cars. All kinds from pickups to classics to something a little new and different. I also have my own style and the way I like to do things. RK Motors in Charlotte (NC) - I've worked with them now twice as far as the 2011 barn-find Tundra and the 2012 Tekked Out Prius. They did such a good job with the Tundra that we took it to Barrett-Jackson and auctioned it off last year and raised over $100,000 (for Bowyer's charity the 79 Fund)."
29 KEVIN HARVICK, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 15th, 15 points out of the top 10.
MARTINSVILLE RECORD: One win and 10 top-10 finishes in 23 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Harvick feels running well at Martinsville is "a balance between being patient and making the right moves. You can get lapped pretty quickly if your car is off. You want to take care of your race car, but you want to take advantage of the opportunities (to pass) when you get them."
LOOKING BACK: Harvick ran in the top 10 for most of the California race, but ran into handling problems late in the event and ended the day in 13th place.
ETC.: Saving your brakes is always a key at Martinsville, but Harvick believes "the brakes and the rotors and everything are so good now that the issue you have now is the tires. The brakes will basically meld the bead of the tire because they're so hot, so you have to concentrate on not only the cooling of the brakes, but also the cooling of the tires."
1 JAMIE MCMURRAY, Chevrolet
Team: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
WHERE HE STANDS: 16th, 20 points out of the top 10.
MARTINSVILLE RECORD: Ten top-10 finishes in 20 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: McMurray calls Martinsville "one of my favorite places to race. I have had some good runs there and I just think that it is fun to go short-track racing like that. I am also excited for the special paint scheme that we will run this weekend. We are going to support our IndyCar teammate Charlie Kimball with a diabetes awareness paint scheme for Race with Insulin. Kimball is the first licensed driver with diabetes to compete at the most elite level of IndyCar."
LOOKING BACK: McMurray ran in the top 10 for the first half of the California race, but ran into handling problems during the final 100 laps and ended the day in 19th place.
ETC.: McMurray spent Monday and Tuesday testing at Richmond International Raceway. "It's crazy to be testing at a track that we actually run at," said McMurray. "We don't get to do this very often. It was odd pulling in here and getting to log laps somewhere where we are going to race at. For a lot of teams, this is a tough track to get around. That's why this test is so important."
43 ARIC ALMIROLA, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 17th, 20 points out of the top 10.
MARTINSVILLE RECORD: Will be seeking his third straight top-eight finish.