Short Track Top 5 Drivers For 2009

1. Denny Hamlin
In 2008 Hamlin was the top scorer in the series at the combined 6 short track races at Bristol, Martinsville, and Richmond. In the six races Hamlin had 4 top fives, and 5 top tens. In Hamlin’s lone outside the top ten finish (spring Richmond race) he had a dominating day starting from the pole and leading 381 laps until a cut down tire ruined his day in front of his home town crowd.

In 2008 Hamlin could have easily won the first three short track races if it weren’t for bad luck. Hamlin had the lead late at the spring Bristol race until a fuel pickup problem in the closing laps ruined his day, he won at Martinsville, and also had success at Richmond until the earlier mentioned issue happened. Hamlin also led the most laps (565) at the short tracks in 2008.

Career Finish Averages
Bristol: 14.3
Martinsville: 8.9
Richmond: 8.8

2. Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon is accomplished as they come at the short tracks. Gordon has 5 wins at Bristol, 7 wins at Martinsville, and 2 wins at Richmond. Perhaps Gordon’s biggest statistical accomplishment is at Martinsville where he has zero DNF’s in 32 career races.

In 2008 Gordon had 3 top fives and 4 top tens. Gordon was also one of three drivers to complete every lap at these crash up derby tracks. Last year Gordon was second to Hamlin in terms of total points accumulated. His worst finish in 2008 was an 11th place finish at the spring Bristol race.

Career Finish Averages
Bristol: 11.5
Martinsville: 6.9
Richmond: 15.1

3. Clint Bowyer
Clint Bowyer isn’t flashy and he certainly is never mentioned among the top short track drivers. What Bowyer is good at is surviving the carnage that happens at these tracks. Last year Bowyer won at the spring Richmond race. In a way this victory could be considered luck, but Bowyer was there to capitalize on the Kyle Busch- Dale Earnhardt Jr spectacle.

In 2008 Bowyer was 3rd overall in league scoring on the short tracks. Bowyer accumulated 2 top fives, and 5 top tens. Bowyer didn’t lead a lot of laps (94) but survival is really the key to success. Bowyer is also in the elite group of drivers who finished every lap.

Career Finish Averages
Bristol 14.7
Martinsville: 14.0
Richmond: 9.3

4. Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick has always been a very successful short track driver. Harvick has career victories at two out of the three short tracks on the circuit (Bristol, Richmond). In 47 career short track races Harvick only has one DNF on his record (Bristol). One notable piece of short track related info about Harvick is that his success at Martinsville is rather limited. In 15 career races Harvick only has 6 top tens.

In 2008 Harvick accumulated 2 top fives and 5 top tens. Like Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer Kevin Harvick is also in the elite group of drivers who completed every lap in 2008. The worst finish the driver of the 29 car had was a 12th place showing at the spring Martinsville race.

Career Finish Averages
Bristol: 9.6
Martinsville: 18.0
Richmond: 11.5

5. Jimmie Johnson
The fall Martinsville race is where Jimmie Johnson traditionally begins his annual thumping the field championship run. The three time champion lead the second most laps in 2008 in the series (520). Johnson also tied Denny Hamlin in the bonus points column (25) and led in 4 races.

His primary strength is Martinsville where he has 5 career wins and 13 top tens in only 14 career races. Johnson’s numbers at the other tracks is a little bit confusing. His stats at Richmond are skewed because he lacked early success there but he has won 3 out of the last 4 races. His history at Bristol is deceiving because he had early success there that he hasn’t been able to replicate it ever since.

Career Finish Averages
Bristol: 17.4
Martinsville: 5.6
Richmond: 17.5

Short Track Notables: Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, and Kurt Busch.