STP 500 Preview: Short Track Survival
STP 500 Preview: Short Track Survival

This article is part of our Weekly Preview series.

The NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series ended their west coast swing and travels back east this week as the series pulls into the small town of Martinsville, Virginia for the STP 500. The Martinsville event marks the return to short tracks after the race at the two-mile oval in Fontana, California.  Martinsville Speedway is very flat track with only 12 degrees of banking in the turns and is truly flat on the long straight-aways.  We just witnessed tire preservation and issues with tire wear at both Phoenix and Fontana.  We will see a similar game played at the Martinsville oval.  Brake preservation is the name of the game in Martinsville, because you essentially have two long drag strips with hairpin corners on either end.The oval looks very much like a paperclip when viewed from above, thus the nickname "the paperclip" has taken hold over the years.  Taking care of your brakes for the full 500 laps becomes as important as passing on this tricky short track.  Like any bull ring in the Monster Energy Cup Series, not only is equipment preservation important but qualifying and track position is of the utmost importance.  If you start in the back of the field here, you can find yourself a lap down in a matter of minutes from the start of the race, so teams must place high priority on qualifying well.  You won't be able to race your way through traffic and back toward the front as easily here as last week

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Mark Taylor
Taylor is RotoWire's senior NASCAR writer. A nine-time FSWA finalist, Taylor was named the Racing Writer of the Year in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2017. He is also a military historian, focused specifically on World War II and the U.S. Navy's efforts in the Pacific.
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