Going for the Busch Pole (Martinsville Edition)

Can Kevin Harvick score his first Busch Pole Award at Martinsville since 2010?

Can Kevin Harvick score his first Busch Pole Award at Martinsville since 2010?

Following a three week West Coast Swing, NASCAR heads to Martinsville where the Busch Pole Award for Sunday’s STP 500 will be up for grabs.  In recent years, as Ashley Hobbs pointed out in her preview, the pole position hasn’t translated into a win on race day.

Still, pole winners have led at least 96 laps in the past 14 spring races at Martinsville Speedway.  Not surprisingly, Jimmie Johnson padded those numbers in his dominant victory in 2013, leading 346 of 500 laps.

Winning the Busch Pole Award is quite an honor for any of the 38 drivers and teams entered for Sunday’s race.  Furthermore, a pole position means first choice of a pit stall on a challenging pit road at this paperclip shaped track.

Unlike the races at Atlanta and Auto Club, tire wear won’t be an issue unless drivers make contact.  Certainly, starting towards the front of the field counts, as the average starting spot for the spring winner since 2014 is 10.6.

Interestingly, over 35 percent of the spring winners have started inside the top-five while 57.1% of the victors have started inside the top-10.  Basically, a solid qualifying effort is paramount at the smallest track in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Not surprisingly, Hendrick Motorsports has claimed six of the past 14 spring pole positions at Martinsville.  For a team that has been successful on race day at this Virginia venue, their qualifying package is quite stellar.

If you partake in NASCAR.com’s Fantasy Games or in a league that awards points for a pole winner, here’s three racers to consider for the Busch Pole Award at Martinsville.

Refreshing Picks
Joey Logano
After a tough 2017 season, Joey Logano heads to Martinsville like a bargain at Marshalls. (Photo Credit: Zach Darrow/TPF)

After a tough 2017 season, Joey Logano heads to Martinsville like a bargain at Marshalls. (Photo Credit: Zach Darrow/TPF)

While Joey Logano has yet to find Victory Lane at Martinsville, he’s certainly got a knack for strong qualifying efforts.  In the past 10 spring races, the Middleton, Conn. native has compiled an impressive average starting spot of 2.6.

Furthermore, Logano was the man to beat in the fall race of 2015.  In the end, revenge was a dish best served cold to him on that day.

Although his race day stats at Martinsville has been shaky with an average finish of 13.6, if you’re trying to be like Todd Gordon with your roster, why not Logano this Sunday?

Kyle Busch
Over the years, Kyle Busch has been tough to beat at Martinsville. (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero Jr./TPF)

Over the years, Kyle Busch has been tough to beat at Martinsville. (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero Jr./TPF)

Last fall, Kyle Busch found his way into a nighttime Victory Lane in a race shrouded in some shenanigans.  That said, the 2015 Cup champion is likely one of the drivers to beat on race day.

Complimenting Busch’s strong average finish of 6.6 in the past 10 races is his average starting spot of 7.7.  Additionally, Busch will pilot the M&M’s Caramel colors this weekend, which has been quite lucky for the Las Vegas native.

In fairness, Busch may be a race day pick for a majority of fantasy players this weekend.  For those playing a conservative game, or those who have yet to start Busch, now is a good time as any for the Busch Pole Award and your race team.

Jimmie Johnson
Raise your hands if you think Jimmie Johnson is a Busch Pole Award winner on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero, Jr./TPF)

Raise your hands if you think Jimmie Johnson is a Busch Pole Award winner on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero, Jr./TPF)

OK, so the news for the No. 48 team hasn’t been all great in 2018.  After all, Jimmie Johnson and his brigade are off to another slow start, thus prompting many scribes to question if this team still has it.

That may be the story for most media outlets.  On this site, history was a beloved subject for most of the writers during high school.

Basically, history has shown that Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus cannot be easily dismissed.  Yes, they’ve lacked the speed and competitiveness of their rivals since last summer.

If there’s one place on the circuit that could be an elixir for Johnson and the No. 48 crew, it’s Martinsville Speedway.  With an average starting spot of 10.8 and average finishing position of 12.4 in the past 10 races, the pride of El Cajon, Calif. is a strong pick for qualifying and race rosters.

Head for the Mountains

Ultimately, fantasy players can be like a herd of sheep or like a wolf going after lambs.  Rest assured, pastoral similes and metaphors aren’t why we make picks, especially at a challenging track like Martinsville.

Like most race teams, being smart, aggressive, and patient are keys to a winning weekend at this track in Ridgeway, VA.  Maybe you’re the kind of fantasy player that worries about the kind of carbon metallic brakes that Kevin Harvick uses.  Perhaps you’re concerned about the shade of blue on Kyle Larson’s dual sponsored Camaro.

While winning may be everything on race day, a perfect race weekend starts with the best pick for the Busch Pole Award.  Consider the trio of Logano, Kyle Busch, and Johnson, as these three could have you smiling like the 2015 Daytona 500 winner.

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. Born and raised in the Boston, MA area, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, you'll likely see an article on The Podium Finish by either myself or one of my talented columnists who absolutely have the motorsports passion.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

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