MARTINSVILLE, Va. — The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ six-race short-track season will start Sunday with the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, which is the shortest oval on the circuit.
Here are the particulars (all times are ET):
START: STP vice president of marketing Jamie Kistner will give the command for drivers to start their engines at 1:07 p.m. ET. The green flag is scheduled for 1:13 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 500 laps (263 miles) around the 0.526-mile oval.
PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Sprint Cup garage opens at 7 a.m., and the drivers meeting is at 11:00 a.m. Driver introductions begin at 12:30 p.m.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: It will be performed by the Training and Doctrine Command Band Herald Trumpets of Ft. Eustis, Va., at 1:01 p.m.
TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race, starting with a prerace show at 12:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and MRN.com.
FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 45 degrees at race time with a 0% chance of rain.
LAST TIME(S): In October, Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored his first win at Martinsville and his final victory with crew chief Steve Letarte, passing Tony Stewart for the lead after restarting in fifth with fewer than five laps left. A year ago at Martinsville, Kurt Busch qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup with his first victory at Stewart-Haas Racing, outdueling six-time champion Jimmie Johnson.
CHASE BEGINS TODAY: Chase Elliott will start 27th in his Sprint Cup debut. It’s the first of five races in 2015 for the Hendrick Motorsports prospect, who will move into Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet next season.
FIRST TIMERS: In addition to Elliott, there will be five drivers racing a Sprint Cup car for the first time at Martinsville – Jeb Burton, Brett Moffitt, Chris Buescher, Alex Kennedy and Matt DiBenedetto. With even veterans struggling to adapt to a new car and engine combination, it could make for a long day for the rookies in the tight quarters of Martinsville, which isn’t known for its hospitable confines.
Row 1: Joey Logano, Ryan Newman
Row 2: Martin Truex Jr., Jeff Gordon
Row 3: Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart
Row 4: Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth
Row 11: Justin Allgaier, Austin Dillon
Row 12: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Casey Mears
Row 14: Chase Elliott, Michael Annett
Row 22: Matt DiBenedetto