RCR Race Preview: Martinsville Speedway

Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway… In 189 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville Speedway, RCR has seven victories, including five by Dale Earnhardt (1985-fall, 1987-spring, 1988-spring, 1991-spring, and 1995-fall). Ricky Rudd won the fall race at Martinsville in 1983, which was RCR’s first Cup Series win on an oval. Kevin Harvick won the 2011 spring race at Martinsville, his first victory at the .526-mile paved speedway. The team owns 31 top-five and 65 top-10 finishes entering Sunday afternoon’s race.

Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Martinsville Speedway… RCR has one NASCAR Xfinity Series victory at Martinsville Speedway. Kevin Harvick captured the 2006 event in dominating fashion, leading 149 of 250 laps. Clint Bowyer, Harvick’s teammate, finished a close second, crossing the finish line .271 seconds behind. Harvick and Bowyer combined to lead 207 of the event’s 250 laps enroute to a 1-2 finish. In 13 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Martinsville Speedway, the Welcome, N.C., based team has one win, one pole, five top-five and six top-10 finishes.

Do You Remember? Dale Earnhardt’s Martinsville Speedway victory in April 1987 capped off a dominating stretch for RCR and the legendary driver. Earnhardt took the lead from Geoff Bodine with 17 laps to go to score his fourth consecutive NASCAR Cup Series victory. The Martinsville win was Earnhardt’s sixth victory in eight races to start the season and included a sweep of short track races at Richmond Raceway, Bristol Motor Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway plus superspeedway wins at Rockingham Speedway and Darlington Raceway.

RCR Milestone… On Sunday, RCR will make it’s 3,300th NASCAR Cup Series start. The organization has led 933,576 laps in Cup Series competition.

Catch the Action on Saturday… The NASCAR Xfinity Series Dude Wipes 250 at Martinsville Speedway will be televised live on Saturday, April 6, beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1. The race will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

Follow Sunday’s Action at Martinsville Speedway… The NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out 400 at Martinsville Speedway will be televised live on Sunday, April 7, beginning at 3 p.m. ET on FS1. The race will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
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Austin Dillon and the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Off Road Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Martinsville Speedway… In 20 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville Speedway, Dillon boasts three top-five and three top-10 finishes. He earned his best finish of third in April 2022 at the half-mile short track after starting from the 23rd position. Dillon finished 12th in the spring race in 2023 after starting 18th. Dillon has made five appearances at Martinsville Speedway in the NASCAR Truck Series, earning his best finish of third in October 2011.

A Long-Standing Tradition… Austin Dillon has proudly worn the Bass Pro Shops colors throughout his entire racing career, including his NASCAR Truck Series Championship, NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship, and wins in the NASCAR Cup Series.

About Bass Pro Shops… Bass Pro Shops is North America’s premier outdoor and conservation company. Founded in 1972 when avid young angler Johnny Morris began selling tackle out of his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Missouri, today the company provides customers with unmatched offerings spanning premier destination retail, outdoor equipment manufacturing, world-class resort destinations, and more. In 2017 Bass Pro Shops acquired Cabela’s to create a “best-of-the-best” experience with superior products, dynamic locations, and outstanding customer service. Bass Pro Shops also operates White River Marine Group, offering an unsurpassed collection of industry-leading boat brands, and Big Cedar Lodge, America’s Premier Wilderness Resort. Under the visionary conservation leadership of Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops is a national leader in protecting habitat and introducing families to the outdoors and has been named by Forbes as “one of America’s Best Employers.” Bass Pro Shops has a long relationship with NASCAR, dating back to 1998. For more information, visit http://www.basspro.com/.

About TRACKER Off Road… Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 prominently features TRACKER ATVs, a game-changing new line of all-terrain vehicles and side-by-sides offering breakthrough performance, service, and value in the off-road industry. TRACKER Off Road was born out of a powerhouse partnership formed between Bass Pro Shops and TRACKER founder Johnny Morris and Textron Specialized Vehicles, bringing together the undisputed world leader in boating with a global leader in innovation and technology.

AUSTIN DILLON QUOTE:

What are your thoughts on racing at Martinsville Speedway this weekend?

“I’m looking forward to racing at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. Last year, we finished twelfth in the spring race so hopefully we can take our Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Off Road Chevrolet and have a good day and pick up stage points. With the new short track downforce package, the car has changed quite a bit since last year, so the No. 3 team is working hard to make sure we are prepared to take on the challenge. I’ve always loved going there. It’s a fun track. At Martinsville Speedway, qualifying for the race is extremely important, especially when it comes to selecting your pit stall. Pit Road is very treacherous there, so hopefully we can get a good starting spot on Sunday. We just have to go at the start of the race and maximize track position as much as possible. I feel like our Chevrolet will be fast and I can’t wait to see how the race plays out.”

Kyle Busch and the No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Martinsville Speedway… Kyle Busch will be making his 38th NASCAR Cup Series start at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. The driver of the Lucas Oil Chevrolet has two victories at the .526-mile oval (2016-spring and 2017-fall). His victory in 2016 came in dominating fashion. Busch led 352 of 500 laps and boasted an average running position in the race of 1.49, becoming the first driver to score a NASCAR national series sweep at Martinsville (he won the Truck Series race the day prior to his Cup victory). In 2017, Busch claimed his second Martinsville victory in NASCAR Overtime when he held off Martin Truex Jr. Busch also has two pole positions at Martinsville Speedway (2014 and 2018). He has led 1,429 laps in Cup competition at the track, third-best among active drivers.

Did You Know? Entering this weekend’s race, Busch has been running at the finish in 36 consecutive Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway. He has 21 top-10 finishes at the Virginia short track, averaging a top-10 finish in 56.75 percent of those events.

The Points Chase… Busch enters Martinsville 13th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 32 points outside of 10th-place.

KYLE BUSCH QUOTES:

The last three races at Martinsville Speedway have been tough for you. Why has it been so challenging?

“I would say Martinsville Speedway has become increasingly challenging with traffic and having a good car that doesn’t burn the tires off. You need to be able to push and go forward and drive past your competitors, but you also can’t blow the tires off.”

Since on track testing is so limited now, what are some tools that you can use to improve your performance without physically being on the track?

“The only tools to use are your notes, film study, and past history of what you know for certain makes you good at a particular track. Going on the simulator is a tool, but as we have found for short tracks, it doesn’t seem to correlate all the way and can lead you in the wrong direction.”

Jesse Love and the No. 2 Whelen Chevrolet Camaro SS at Martinsville Speedway… Jesse Love will make his inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series start at Martinsville Speedway this Saturday. The 19-year-old has never competed at the .526-mile paperclip-shaped oval in person and Friday’s practice session will mark his first lap on the surface.

Building Momentum… Love continues to put together a consistent and impressive start to his Xfinity Series rookie campaign. The Menlo Park, California native has secured three consecutive top-six results – a second-place finish at Phoenix Raceway, a sixth-place result at Circuit of The Americas, and most recently, a fifth-place finish at Richmond Raceway. Love is the current Sunoco Rookie of the Year points leader.

Dashing 4 Cash… After being one of the four highest Xfinity Series point earners at Richmond Raceway, Love enters Martinsville Speedway with a chance to win an extra $100,000 through the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash program. Love will battle Chandler Smith, Aric Almirola, and Parker Kligerman on Saturday evening, with the highest finisher earning the Dash 4 Cash title. Love qualified for the program in his first career attempt.

Meet Love… On Saturday, April 6 at 3:50 p.m. ET, Love is scheduled to sign autographs at the RCR Merchandise Trailer located in the Fan Midway at Martinsville Speedway. Directly after at 4:15 p.m. ET, Love will head to the NASCAR Experience Stage in the Fan Midway at Martinsville Speedway to participate in a question-and-answer session with the other three Xfinity Dash 4 Cash qualifiers. Stop by to see the rookie contender before the green flag waves.

About Whelen Engineering… Whelen Engineering is a family-owned company with a pioneering spirit and a passion to protect the lives of those who protect and serve others. The company mission is to provide industry-defining safety solutions around the world, while creating a community of problem-solvers who are inspired to push boundaries and continue our legacy of delivering ground-breaking innovation. As a global leader in the emergency warning industry, Whelen has been trusted to perform since 1952, when George Whelen III invented the first rotating aviation beacon. Whelen now encompasses two state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Connecticut and New Hampshire with over 750,000 square feet of engineering and manufacturing space and the largest design staff in the industry. Every part of every Whelen product is proudly designed and manufactured in America. We embrace quality as our foundation, we celebrate innovative engineering in every product we produce.

JESSE LOVE QUOTES:

You qualified for your first Xfinity Dash 4 Cash in your first career attempt. Talk about racing for an extra $100,000 at Martinsville Speedway.

“It’s a cool experience. It was a good goal for our team last weekend, just to qualify and be one of the four for this weekend. Being in it, allows us to have an extra spotlight on our team and our partners this weekend at Martinsville. Obviously, it’s a good chunk of change as well, so it would be nice to win it. It feels like a race inside of a race. Our main goal remains to win the actual race or get the best finish possible, but we also want to earn the Dash 4 Cash bonus. I think we will have a good shot at it for sure. We have done a lot of prep work in the simulator and the car felt pretty good. It should transfer over to practice on Friday, and I have confidence in our Whelen group.”

Will you pay attention to where the other Xfinity Dash 4 Cash qualifiers are on the track?

“Will I race a certain guy harder if he’s eligible for the bonus? Yes, probably so, because I know there is more on the line than just the position on the track. But hopefully, we can run up front with a shot at the win. If we win the race, the Dash 4 Cash bonus takes care of itself and takes care of next week too. The overall goal doesn’t change, but we will play it by ear at the end of the race as we see how the field is stacking up. If there is an opportunity to make a move at the end, I will consider it.”

Austin Hill and the No. 21 Bennett Transportation and Logistics Chevrolet Camaro SS at Martinsville Speedway… Austin Hill has four career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Martinsville Speedway, posting one top-five and two top-10 finishes in 2022 while driving the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. The Winston, Georgia native also has 11 NASCAR Truck Series starts at the Ridgeway, Virginia facility, earning one top-five (second in 2021) and three top-10 finishes.

Bennett Truck Drivers of the Year… Bennett Family of Companies is honoring and recognizing their 2023 Driver of the Year recipients with a multi-day experience, hosted at Richard Childress Racing and Martinsville Speedway. The honorees will take part in an awards ceremony and exclusive shop tours of both RCR and ECR Engines, before attending the Xfinity Series race on Saturday night. The names of all 16 recipients will be proudly featured on the decklid of Hill’s No. 21 Bennett Transportation and Logistics Camaro, and over 45 guests will cheer on Hill in-person at the 0.526-mile paperclip-shaped oval.

About Bennett Family of Companies… McDonough-Ga. based Bennett Family of Companies is a woman-owned, Women’s Enterprise Business Council (WBENC) certified, diversified transportation and logistics company. Through its 14 affiliated operating companies, the Bennett Family of Companies delivers integrated transportation and supply chain management solutions worldwide. Bennett has 4,625 drivers/owner-operators, over 1,000 employees and 600 agents located across the United States. For more information, visit www.bennettig.com.

AUSTIN HILL QUOTES:

Do you enjoy racing at Martinsville Speedway?

“Yes and no, honestly. A lot of the time, especially at the end of the race, people drive into the corner and drive into back of you. It can be annoying, because you know you’re going to be hit constantly and you can never get into a rhythm unless you’re in the top-five. If you’re up front, you can get away and get into a rhythm. But if you are mired back in traffic and running in 15th, you never see what your car is capable of, because you’re always guarding from behind. I like Martinsville when you go out for practice and the way the track drives, but the way that the competition races there is a little iffy.”

What do you need in order to perform well at Martinsville Speedway?

“You need a good race car. Your car needs to be really good and stable on entry, not loose or sliding the left front under braking, and then be able to roll to the center. It doesn’t matter if your speed slows down in the center, as you can get a really good drive off to pull away from them. I think that’s where the guys who win there are successful. But racing at Martinsville is kind of like Daytona and Talladega in a sense, where you can have a really fast car, but a late race restart happens where you get ran over and you are left finishing 30th. I’m kind of torn of whether I like the place or not.”

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