Denny Hamlin Expects To Win The STP 500
When it comes to the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Denny Hamlin has one thing on his mind: winning. If you’re looking to count the reasons why, the Virginian could give you a hand, in figuring it out. A hand with five fingers. One for each of the wins he has at the historic track in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“This is a very confident race track for me,” Hamlin said. “With that confidence comes a lot of anxiety though, because I expect to win. If I don’t win, that’s not a successful weekend.
“That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself, especially with today’s competition.”
The history of Martinsville isn’t lost on Hamlin, who grew up sitting in the grandstands long before he sat in a driver’s seat.
“It’s been around for 70 years,” he said. “That’s something not many race tracks can say. All of the history here; you look around at the old photos and even though a lot has changed around the race track, the race track itself has not changed. The configuration hasn’t changed. It’s still very similar to how it used to be many, many years ago.
“I take a lot of pride in coming to Martinsville and running well. A win is the only thing acceptable when I come to this race track. It’s circled on our calendar every off season.”
While Hamlin has accomplished more in 12 years at Martinsville than many drivers will see in a lifetime, he still has some goals to accomplish, before he hangs up his helmet.
“When I finish up, I’d like to have more wins than Gordon (nine),” he said. “That would be a big goal for me, but I think it’s very feasible.
“I’ve been in contention here many, many times. Jeff’s won here a bunch, but there’s no reason that I shouldn’t come out of there with a record equal to his, and that’s something that’s very hard to do.”
Hamlin also said that when he does decided to call it quits, Martinsville will be a track he still visits with his family.
“Everyone loves the short tracks,” he said. “It always seems to come up when we leave Martinsville, we need more of these tracks.
“I think it makes for a better fan experience. You see better racing, more exciting racing and more contact, honestly. The more contact the better and the shorter the race track, the more contact is going to be had.”
Racing returns to Martinsville Speedway March 31-April 2.
This year the historic track celebrates its 70th anniversary.
The weekend starts on Friday with Virginia Lottery Pole Day and continues on Saturday with the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be in action on Sunday with the running of the STP 500.
Ticket prices start at $45 and tickets in the Bill France Tower are $50.
Ticket prices increase the week of the race.
The race is the first short-track race of the season and marks the series’ return to the east coast after the “West Coast Swing.”
Last year Kyle Busch became the first driver in the tracks storied history to win both the Truck and Premier Series races in the same weekend.
Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.