The NASCAR Cup Series is back in action after a week off for Easter, and the drivers are heading to the shortest track on the schedule. They will compete in the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville, and a Team Penske driver will lead them to the green flag. Joey Logano, the driver of the No. 22 Ford Mustang, has won the Busch Pole.
NASCAR announced the news on Wednesday and confirmed that Logano would be at the front of the pack. He is the most recent race winner after holding off Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the Food City Dirt Race on March 29. Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin will join Logano on the front row. Hendrick Motorsports' William Byron and Team Penske's Ryan Blaney will make up the second row.
NASCAR determined the starting order using a formula based on multiple factors. 25% of the formula is the driver's finishing position from the previous race. Another 25% is the car owner's finishing position from the previous race. 35% is the team owner's points ranking, and the final 15% is the fastest lap from the previous race.
When Logano leads the field to the green flag, he will do so in front of a limited-capacity crowd. The Virginia track will feature a small number of racing fans while holding a three-race weekend. These fans will undergo screening prior to entering the facility and will have to wear face coverings during the race.
"With the increase in limited fan capacity for entertainment venues across the Commonwealth of Virginia, we will be ready to welcome back more race fans for a safe, exciting race experience at Martinsville Speedway," said Martinsville President Clay Campbell in a release. "We look forward to hearing more of our loyal race fans cheer on the action for our first-ever three race weekend of night races on April 8-10."
The 2021 NASCAR season has started off in a unique fashion. Seven different drivers have won in seven weeks, marking a major change in the long-running series. The early schedule has also featured two first-time winners, who will most likely make their first playoff appearances.
Michael McDowell won the season-opening Daytona 500, the first win in a career spanning 14 years. Christopher Bell took the checkered flag the following week at the Daytona Road Course. Byron, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, and Logano round out the list of winners in 2021, and they will attempt to head to Victory Lane once again on Saturday night.