Next stop Martinsville Speedway for Sunday’s S-T-P 500, sixth race of the 2016 Sprint Cup Series and the first of the season on a short track. Martinsville was the venue for one of the most dramatic moments of 2015 as Matt Kenseth put the brakes on Joey Logano’s three-race post-season winning streak.
Kenseth drove into the back of race leader Logano less than fifty laps from the finish of the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 on November 1st – sending Logano into the wall and to the garage for repairs as the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup began. Kenseth’s car was crippled from earlier contact with Brad Keselowski and he was running many laps down to Logano when they made contact, a retaliatory move on Kenseth’s part after the two had also gotten together two weeks earlier at Kansas Speedway.
Logano started from the pole and led 207 of the 454 laps that were run before Kenseth sent him into the wall and to the bottom of the Chase standings. Kenseth drew a two-race suspension for his actions. Logano had been one of the hottest drivers in the post-season but never recovered, failing to qualify for The Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and finishing sixth in the final standings.
Following an off-weekend to mark the Easter holiday, two of NASCAR’s three top national series are back in action this week. Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series teams head to Martinsville Speedway for a doubleheader April 2nd and 3rd. The X-FINITY Series remains idle until the April 8th O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Joe Gibbs Racing is off to a flying start in 2016. In the Sprint Cup Series, Denny Hamlin won the season-opening Daytona 500 and Kyle Busch has opened defense of his 2015 championship with top-five finishes in four of the first five races. Hamlin, Busch and Carl Edwards all presently reside among the top five in the Sprint Cup Series standings.
In the X-FINITY Series, J-G-R’s Daniel Suarez sits atop the early-season standings with a ten-point advantage over Elliott Sadler. He’s notched top tens in all five of his starts so far, including a runner-up showing to Busch earlier this month in Las Vegas.
For just the seventh time in twelve years, it’s an off-weekend for all three of NASCAR’s top series – Sprint Cup, X-FINITY and Camping World Trucks – as the sport pauses for the Easter holiday. Competition will resume with Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series races the weekend of April 2nd and 3rd at Martinsville Speedway. The X-FINITY Series does not return until Friday night, April 8th, at Texas Motor Speedway.