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The Callahan Report: NASCAR's Hanes 500 -- Tough on Brakes/Breaks

26 September 1997

MARTINSVILLE, VA: It's difficult to find a race track were young Jeff
Gordon hasn't already claimed a victory.  Such is the case this
weekend as NASCAR heads to the Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville,
VA.  Gordon is the defending champion and race record holder (82.223

[ Jeff Gordon
]Jeff Gordon

Martinsville is known for being tough on brakes. Gordon is good with his brakes and his breaks. Chevrolet has 10 victories in 26 races this season. Gordon owns all 10 of Chevy's wins. There have been some lucky breaks in those 10 victories, but much of the success has to be credited to the talent of Gordon and the teamwork of his crew under the supervision of Ray Evernham.

Ford has grabbed the other 16 victories on the 1997 NASCAR roster. Pontiacs have looked strong, but haven't made an appearance in victory late yet this season. As for Martinsville, look for Pontiacs to be strong just as they were at the last week in Dover. Kyle Petty's Pontiac was the class of the field but had to make one additional pit stop at Dover. Bobby Hamilton is also in a Pontiac. Hamilton won the pole for last year's Hanes 500 at Martinsville. He finished third.

[ Rick Mast
]Rick Mast

If last year's Hanes 500 is any indication, there should be some new names atop the scoring pilon. Rick Mast, John Andretti, and Morgan Spepherd all had to ten finishes in the 1996 event. Kyle Petty was also in the top ten. He is extremely hungry for victory after last week's defeat.

Rusty Wallace will be looking to get back to winning form at Martinsville. He had won three straight years ('93, '94, and '95) before Gordon cut into his Martinville domination streak.

Mark Martin also had a top ten finish at Martinsville last year. Martin is hot the trail of Gordon in the Winston Cup Points race. After winning last week at Dover, it is apparent that Martin is focused on the championship.

The Hanes 500 will be held this Sunday at 12:30 PM. Television coverage will be provided by ESPN. Live in car audio is also available on The Auto Channel.

Terry Callahan -- The Auto Channel