Thursday, Mar 30

FRM Martinsville Recap: Smith Top-10 in Truck Race, McDowell 25th and Gilliland Earns Best Starting Position

FRM Martinsville Recap: Smith Top-10 in Truck Race, McDowell 25th and Gilliland Earns Best Starting Position NK Photography Photo
All three of the Front Row Motorsports (FRM) NASCAR teams were in action this past weekend at the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Zane Smith went into the weekend searching for his third Truck Series win in the first five races of the season season, and Todd Gilliland and Michael McDowell looked for solid runs on Saturday night.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway started off with a wet track. Rain throughout Thursday kept the trucks under their covers right until race time. Smith benefited from the rain, as both practice and qualifying were cancelled. Thus, Smith started from the pole.
The No. 38 Michael Roberts Construction (MRC) Ford F-150 team had a great start to the race. Smith jumped out to the front and led every lap of Stage One to pick up his third stage win of the season.
Smith raced in the top-10 for a majority of the final two stages, but suffered a speeding penalty exiting pit road. Smith raced back through the field, made one last pit stop for fresh tires, and charged from 20th to ninth in the final laps.
"We had another really fast truck in Martinsville. I hate that we were caught speeding there, but the No. 38 MRC crew did great all night to give me exactly what I needed to rebound. We've been in contention every race so far this year and that's all we can ask for."
Saturday evening, Navage Nasal Care returned to the No. 34 Ford Mustang. Qualifying well, McDowell started in the 16th position. The team quickly fought back from being shuffled to the outside groove on the initial start to finish Stage One in the "Lucky Dog" position.
Working to fix a loose handling car, the Navage Nasal Care team made the appropriate adjustments under the stage break. McDowell came out in Stage Two, raced hard, but a lack of cautions and grip on the outside groove didn't allow McDowell to make any progress.
The team finished the race in the 25th position after much of the same in the final stage. The car had speed, but just a lack of passing affected the final result.
"We were fighting the car for a while, but it started to come to us in the end. We were fast and running top-15 laps times, but what hurt us was that caution after our green flag stop. After that, we just were not able to get the track position back. The result doesn't reflect how our Navage Nasal Care Ford Mustang raced."
Todd Gilliland made his first start at the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series on Saturday night. He started the weekend off hot. Gilliland advanced to the final round of qualifying for the first time in his rookie campaign and started Saturday's 400-lap night race in the 10th position.
Gilliland was fast in the opening laps, but lacked some grip. He easily stayed on the Lead Lap in Stage One and stayed within the top-20 before pitting for fresh tires at the end of the stage. In Stage 2, Gilliland again had the Cross Country Adjusting Ford Mustang running with the leaders. He made a few passes before falling back at the end of Stage 2.
An untimely caution in the final stage, Gilliland fell down two laps, but still in the top-25. In the closing laps, the brakes faded and Gilliland made contact with the outside wall.
"I was really happy to qualify the Cross Country Adjusting Ford Mustang inside the top-10 at Martinsville. That was a lot of fun. In the race, we were close on the handling, but I learned a lot. It's disappointing not have a better finish, but I'll keep learning and getting better."



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