As expected, drivers will head into Saturday’s 500-lap event with just a single practice session under their belt, as the weather only allowed for the completion of Friday’s first session.
Many teams worked on race trim on Friday, anticipating Saturday’s weather conditions. Reigning champion and six-time Martinsville winner Jimmie Johnson completed more laps than any of his rivals on Friday with 72, while his closest rival in the Chase, Mark Martin, only ran 34 despite setting the fastest time.
“We’re very optimistic about our car this weekend,” said Johnson, who starts from 15th on the grid. “Practice in race trim [Friday] morning was really good. We didn’t spend a lot of time in qualifying trim.
“Unfortunately it doesn’t look like we’re going to start up where we wanted to, but it is what it is. It will hurt us on pit road for sure. But I really think the way the car is going to be and how well I can work traffic here, it shouldn’t be too big of a problem.”
Denny Hamlin, the most recent driver to beat Johnson at the half-mile track, was another one focusing more on race preparations, completing 66 laps during Friday’s practice.
The weather forecasts for Sunday currently show zero chance of rain. NASCAR is expected to throw a competition caution in the early laps of the event in order to allow teams to check tyre wear after all the rubber on the track has been washed out.
Officials are hopeful of getting the Truck Series event in during Saturday afternoon, weather permitting.