Seven races, seven faces. The NASCAR Cup Series’ cast of winners this season is so far a list of one-timers, with a unique face gracing Victory Lane each weekend.
Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell started the trend with their first career Cup Series triumphs in back-to-back weeks at Daytona. Since then we’ve had no repeaters, and the list of “win and in” playoff hopefuls has gotten more and more crowded.
RELATED: Martinsville weekend schedule
So, who might be able to keep the streak going this weekend? Martinsville Speedway, one of NASCAR’s original tracks, is next up on the schedule with the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 (set to resume Sunday at 4 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM), and several former winners at the Virginia paperclip are poised to return to form.
With favorites and underdogs hoping to be in the mix, which driver stands the best chance of making it 8-for-8 for new faces on this season’s win list? NASCAR.com’s Zack Albert and Chase Wilhelm make their picks among the so-far winless.
ALBERT: Still plenty of surprises among the heavy hitters with zeros beside their names in the win column, but here’s going with last year’s hardware hoister at season’s end — Chase Elliott. The defending Cup Series champ is the most recent Martinsville Speedway winner, converting in a November romp as a springboard to his first series title a week later.
Elliott might still hold a claim for the crown when the sport’s road-course ruling class is discussed, but his record on NASCAR’s shortest paved oval is pretty stout, too. The Georgia native has notched top-five finishes in three of his last four starts at Martinsville, where his Hendrick Motorsports organization has won a stunning 25 times.
With honorable-mention nods to points leader Denny Hamlin and top 2020 winner Kevin Harvick — both of whom have Martinsville grandfather clocks in their trophy collection — the pick this week is Elliott to keep the revolving door of winners spinning.
WILHELM: Team Penske drivers have earned victories in the past two races with Ryan Blaney at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Joey Logano at the Bristol Dirt Race. It feels like it’s Brad Keselowski’s turn now.
Keselowski has been hit-or-miss in the first seven races with three top fives, while the other four have been outside the top 11. But he’s still been able to find the front on occasion with 93 laps led and four races of 31 points or better.
Although the season has been a tad too rocky for Keselowski’s liking so far, it’s his recent Martinsville performances that you can’t ignore. Keselowski has finished fifth or better in nine of the last 10 events at the Virginia short track, including two triumphs in 2017 and ’19.
So Zack, I’ll raise you Elliott’s one grandfather clock with Keselowski’s pair. The No. 2 Team Penske driver will be a favorite to add a third coveted clock to his collection to keep this different winners streak going.