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NASCAR set for trip to short track

It will be difficult to match the excitement Dale Jr.'s Talladega win generated last weekend, but expect a few more twists, turns and bumps as the tour moves to Martinsville this week. The Virginia speedway is one of three short tracks left on the NASCAR schedule and it's been a part of the stock car show since the beginning.

Martinsville has been holding NASCAR events since September 1949. Georgia drivers claimed the first and last wins at what was still a dirt track until 1955. Red Byron won the 1949 event and Tim Flock claimed the last dirt win.

Rusty Wallace might be one to watch at the Virginia speedway. Rusty has registered six victories at Martinsville. His last win there was in 1996 and with the luck Rusty has had this year he needs a win bad.

Ricky Rudd and Jeff Gordon have three wins each at the track. Rudd's last win there was in 1998 and Gordon claimed his latest Martinsville's win 1999.

Mark Martin has won events at the speedway twice. He carried the checkered flag away in 1992 and 2000.

The one-time winners at the track include Kurt Busch (2002), Bobby Labonte (2002), Ricky Craven (2001), Dale Jarrett (2001), Tony Stewart (2000), John Andretti (1999), Bobby Hamilton (1998) and Jeff Burton (1997).

Awesome Bill Update: Georgia's Bill Elliott missed the big crash on the third lap of the Aaron's 499 and continued on to post a 13th-place finish in Talladega. Elliott had started the race from the fifth position while his teammate, Jeremy Mayfield, clocked in the pole winning speed.

Bill collected five bonus points for leading one lap of the Talladega event and he advanced one position in point standings. Elliott is now ranked 32nd on the point chart and trails leader Matt Kenseth by 577. Elliott has only one top-10 finish in the eight races run this season.

Bill Elliott has yet to win an event at Martinsville. Elliott has run 40 races at the track scoring only three top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. His best run at Martinsville has been a third-place finish in 1994. He finished 14th and 42nd in the 2001 and 2002 races at Martinsville.

Jawga Boys: The headache came early for Mark Wallace, co-owner of the No. 77 Jasper Engines and Transmissions car. The Brooks resident was in charge of spotting on the backstretch for driver Dave Blaney at Talladega and what he spotted in the early laps coming out of turn two was bad news.

Blaney was caught up in the "big one" and while the damage didn't put him out of the race, repairs to the Ford put the team 10 laps behind the leaders. Blaney was still able to post a 23rd-place finish and that advanced the team into the 20th-position in the point standings.

The other Georgia-owned car also fell victim to the early-race crash. Jerry Nadeau returned to the speedway after repairs, but was only able to complete 73 laps before calling it a day. Nadeau was credited with a 36th-place finish and the team fell three positions in points. The No. 01 team is ranked 33rd on the point chart.

The Call: Jimmie Johnson was quick to address his displeasure with NASCAR's decision that Dale Jr.'s pass around Matt Kenseth was legal and that's the second week in a row that Hendrick Jeff Gordon complained about the caution-flag incident in Texas where Jeff decided he would not abide with the "gentleman's agreement" drivers have always had not to race each other to the caution flag. NASCAR later admitted they had made a mistake, but that's not likely with the Talladega call. It was clear that the two left wheels of Earnhardt's car drove across the out-of-bounds line, but the NASCAR scorers reviewing the replay ruled that Dale Jr. was already beside Matt Kenseth before the wheels crossed the yellow border.

Herb Emory, a traffic reporter and host of the Allan Vigil 120 racing show on WSB AM-750, is a guest columnist for The Daily.