Friday Martinsville Notebook: Kenseth helping Johnson at Martinsville? Yeah, right...
By: By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service, Superior Telegram
MARTINSVILLE, Va.— Matt Kenseth’s text to Jimmie Johnson was tongue-in-cheek, of course.
“I texted Jimmie a little while ago and told him that we’re friends and everything, but I would appreciate it if he wouldn’t ask me for any advice this weekend,” deadpanned Kenseth, who trails series leader Johnson by four points in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings.
Realistically, Johnson isn’t likely to seek Kenseth’s counsel. The five-time champion is an eight-time winner at Martinsville Speedway, site of Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500, with an average finish of 5.3 at the .526-mile short track.
Kenseth, on the other hand, has never won at Martinsville and has an average finish there of 15.8.
Johnson may have the edge on the track, but Kenseth had the upper hand with the one-liners Friday. Witness his reaction to hearing that Johnson had completed a 20-mile run.
“I’m not weird enough to do a 20-mile run,” Kenseth said. “It would take me a week to run 20 miles, even if somebody was chasing me.”
A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS
On a more serious note, Kenseth will rely on the Martinsville mastery of Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch as he tries to regain the series lead.
In recent years, Hamlin arguably is second only to Johnson in terms of his prowess on the paper-clip-shaped speedway. Hamlin has four wins at Martinsville and a career average finish of 8.2. Accordingly, it’s had to blame Kenseth for seeking advice.
“This spring, Denny helped me a lot, and I think Kyle helped me a lot, too,” Kenseth said. “Especially Denny, because he was out of the car (because of a fractured vertebra), and Mark (Martin) was in it, so we were down there parked next to each other, and I got to talk to him a lot and pick his brain a lot and look at a lot of stuff."
“You try to use all the tools you have, and certainly Denny and Kyle run pretty good everywhere, but especially here is one of Denny’s best places, so I certainly try to pay as much attention as I can.”
In his first start in a substitute role for ailing Brian Vickers, Sadler hopes to achieve more than a respectable finish—a lot more.
“I don’t know what you guys think is realistic or not, but we’re here to win a damn race,” Sadler told reporters Friday at Martinsville Speedway.
With Vickers sidelined for the rest of the season by a recently discovered blood clot in his leg, Sadler will drive the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota in his stead. Needless to say, Sadler’s sights are set high, for Martinsville as well as the races that follow.
“To sit here and tell you that I just want to go be competitive and not do much is a lie,” Sadler said. “I want to come out here and try to qualify good each week and run good each week and put ourselves in position to be there at the end of the race.
“I’m a competitor, no matter what I play and no matter what I race.”