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

Power, Newgarden, Dixon fastest in first of 2 IndyCar practices today at Barber Motorsports Park

Photo: IndyCar
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Will Power was fastest in Friday’s first of two IndyCar practice sessions at Barber Motorsports Park.

Power covered the 2.3-mile permanent road course in 1:07.5987 minutes at 122.488 mph in the 45-minute practice session.

Even though he spun off the course during his session, Phoenix winner Josef Newgarden still managed to be second-fastest (121.919 mph at 1:07.9141 minutes), followed by Scott Dixon (121.296 mph/1:082627), Max Chilton (121.251 mph/1:08.2882) and Ed Jones (121.215 mph/1:09.5692).

 

Sixth through 10th were Simon Pagenaud (121.208 mph/1:08.3122), Jordan King (121.113 mph/1:083661), Graham Rahal (121.059 mph/1:08.3964), St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais (121.029 mph/1:08.4131) and rookie Zach Veach (121.014 mph/1:08.4216).

Here’s the full speed chart:

Incidents:

* Early in the session, Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi ran off the track and into the grass, striking a small sign, but was able to get back on-track. However, Rossi was only able to complete 10 laps, relegating him to 20th-fastest in the 23-car field.

* Moments later, it appeared the rear brakes locked up on Newgarden heading into Turn 5, spinning him into the gravel trap. He was able to get going and returned to the pits for service and was back on-track with less than four minutes remaining in the session.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* The second practice session of the day will begin at 3:50 p.m. ET. A third practice will take part Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET. The race, to be televised live Sunday on NBCSN, is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

* However, weather forecast does not look promising for Sunday’s race. As of 1 p.m. ET today, the forecast calls for 100 percent rain throughout the day.

* Dixon has had an incredible record at Barber Motorsports Park, with seven podium finishes in eight starts there. Except for one thing: he has yet to win a race there. But he does have five runner-up and two other third-place showings on the permanent road course.

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