By the numbers: The 2013 Chasers at Martinsville

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The 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup is coming down to its final battles, and this weekend brings the championship contenders to Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR’s oldest circuit and the shortest track in all of Sprint Cup (.526-mile).

Sunday’s running of the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 powered by Kroger will mark the seventh race in the 2013 Chase, and the plot has thickened now that Jimmie Johnson has assumed control of the points lead.

His edge over Matt Kenseth is only four points, but Johnson would seem to have a prime chance to build upon it after pummeling the field at the “paperclip” back in April.

Johnson has notched eight victories at this track, and another big day for him would mean trouble for the other Chasers that still have a legitimate shot at this point: Kenseth, Kyle Busch (-26 points), Kevin Harvick (-26 points), and Jeff Gordon (-36 points).

But based on past performance, Gordon could be up for a victory as well. His career success at Martinsville, like Johnson’s, is staggering. We’ll see if the two Hendrick Motorsports teammates are fighting each other for the win Sunday.

With a hat tip to NASCAR, here’s how each of the 13 Chase drivers have done over their careers at Martinsville:

Jimmie Johnson (Leader – 2,254 points)
· Eight wins, 16 Top-5s, 20 Top-10s
· Average Finish: 5.3 in 23 races
· Series-best Average Running Position of 5.9
*Series-high 7,849 Laps in the Top 15 (92.0%)

Matt Kenseth (second, -4 points)
· Three Top-5s, eight Top-10s
· Average Finish: 15.8 in 27 races
· Average Running Position: 16.9, 16th-best

Kyle Busch (third, -26 points)
· Eight Top-5s, nine Top-10s
· Average Finish: 16.1 in 17 races
· Average Running Position: 13.5, seventh-best

Kevin Harvick (fourth, -26 points)
· One win, three Top-5s, 10 Top-10s
· Average Finish: 16.6 in 24 races
· Average Running Position: 14.0, ninth-best

Jeff Gordon (fifth, -36 points)
· Seven wins, 26 Top-5s, 33 Top-10s
· Average Finish: 7.0 in 41 races
· Average Running Position: 6.2, second-best
*Series-high 968 Fastest Laps Run
*Series-high 600 Quality Passes

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (sixth, -52 points)
· 10 Top-5s, 14 Top-10s
· Average Finish: 13.4 in 27 races
· Average Running Position: 11.0, fourth-best

Greg Biffle (seventh, -53 points)
· Four Top-10s
· Average Finish: 20.8 in 21 races
· Average Running Position: 21.2, 21st-best

Clint Bowyer (eighth, -57 points)
· Three Top-5s, nine Top-10s
· Average Finish: 13.2 in 15 races
· Average Running Position: 13.0, sixth-best

Kurt Busch (ninth, -62 points)
· One win, two Top-5s, four Top-10s
· Average Finish: 21.7 in 26 races
· Average Running Position: 18.8, 19th-best

Carl Edwards (10th, -68 points)
· One Top-5, five Top-10s
· Average Finish: 16.1 in 18 races
· Average Running Position: 16.1, 14th-best

Ryan Newman (11th, -72 points)
· One win, seven Top-5s, 11 Top-10s
· Average Finish: 14.3 in 23 races
· Average Running Position: 14.8, 10th-best

Joey Logano (12th, -74 points)
· One Top-5, two Top-10s
· Average Finish: 16.1 in nine races
· Average Running Position: 17.8, 18th-best

Kasey Kahne (13th, -101 points)
· Three Top-5s, four top 10s; one pole
· Average finish: 19.8 in 19 races
· Average Running Position: 20.1, 20th-best

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.