Ford Performance – Martinsville Speedway 1 Advance

From dirt to pavement, NASCAR keeps it on the half-mile this week by heading to the shortest track on the schedule in Martinsville Speedway. The NASCAR Cup and Truck series will be rejoined with the Xfinity series, as they engage in close-quarters battles on the unique, paperclip configuration. The Ford Mustang stable features two top-10 drivers and former winners, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, who also won the Cup race in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

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Ryan Blaney: “I’ve always looked at Martinsville as a home race for me.  I grew up closer to there than I did to Charlotte Motor Speedway being from High Point (NC).  I went up there a lot to go and watch dad run and then it became even more special running for the Wood Brothers with them being from Stuart. It’s a place I always have circled on the calendar because it was special to me as a kid and it still is.”

Ryan Preece: “I feel like Martinsville is a big Coliseum, so there are some things we can take from there, but there are also some things that we have to change.  I feel like our short track stuff has been really good and shows a lot of promise, so going into Martinsville I’m obviously optimistic.  I’ve had a lot of success there in modifieds, so hopefully that translates to this new car.”

Harrison Burton: “I love Martinsville.  I won an Xfinity race there and that was obviously really cool.  Qualifying is so important because it’s really hard to pass.  It was hard to gain track position if you didn’t have it, and I got kind of bit by that in the first race, so executing in qualifying there is really important.  For me, it makes the race really challenging because you have two laps that can really determine the trajectory of your whole weekend and you have to make the most of it.”



No track on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit has been better for Joey Logano when it comes to qualifying than Martinsville Speedway.  Logano enters this weekend with an average starting position of 7.9, which is his best among all tracks in which he has more than 10 starts.  He has six poles, including three in a row in 2015-16, and had an active streak of 18 straight top-10 starts (including races where qualifying was rained out) until he qualified 14th last spring.  In 28 career races at the half-mile short track, Logano has an average finishing position of 11.5 and has been running at the finish of every event, including both events in 2022 when he finished second and sixth.


Even though Ryan Blaney does not have a NASCAR Cup Series win in 13 starts at Martinsville Speedway, it’s still a place where he has a lot of confidence. Look no further than the fact that he has an average finishing position of 9.7, which is a personal best on tracks he’s had more than five starts.  Blaney has seven top-5 and eight top-10 efforts, including fourth and third-place efforts last season.



Clint Bowyer snapped a 190-race winless stretch by leading the final 114 laps to win the weather-delayed STP 500 in 2018.  The win was Bowyer’s first with Ford and ninth of his career.  He passed Ryan Blaney on lap 285 to gain the lead for the first time, and when Jamie McMurray brought out the caution 100 laps later after hitting the wall, Bowyer’s pit crew got him back out with the lead and that proved to be the difference.  That capped a big day for Ford, which had five drivers finish in the Top 10 and saw Blaney win Stage 2.



Brad Keselowski outdueled Kyle Busch down the stretch to win his first grandfather clock after capturing the STP 500 on Apr. 2, 2017.  The two drivers waged a memorable battle that saw them swap the lead five times in the last 160 laps, but Keselowski ended up making the decisive pass on lap 458 and led the final 43 circuits to become the first repeat winner in 2017.  Prior to winning at Martinsville, Keselowski took the checkered flag at Atlanta in the second race of the season.



The first time Ford won a NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway also marked the first career victory for 2015 NASCAR Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen. The date was April 9, 1961 and Lorenzen battled Rex White, who led the first 118 laps after starting on the pole. Lorenzen, driving for Holman-Moody at the time, grabbed the lead on lap 119 and held it until rain came ending the race prematurely after 149 circuits. Little did anyone know that 54 years later both men would be enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the same induction class. Martinsville was a place Lorenzen dominated, winning six times, including four straight from 1963-65 – the only driver to date to accomplish the feat. He was absolutely unbeatable in 1964 as he led 990 out of a possible 1,000 laps (487 in the first and 493 in the second) in winning both races.



Ricky Craven outlasted Dale Jarrett over the final laps to post the first victory of his NASCAR Cup Series career on Oct. 15, 2001 at Martinsville Speedway.  Pit strategy played a key role in this race as Jarrett opted for four tires on his final stop while Craven just got two.  That enabled Craven to build a lead following the ensuing restart with 17 to go, but Jarrett gained ground and found himself in position to win on the final lap.  That’s when Jarrett went to the outside going into turn one and got side-by-side with Craven coming off turn two.  Both Fords made contact door-to-door entering turn three, but Craven emerged off four with the advantage and took the checkered flag.



No driver displayed more toughness during his career than Ricky Rudd and that was evident again in 1998 when the Virginia native endured burns on his backside to win the NAPA Autocare 500 on Sept. 27.  On a day that saw temperatures in the mid-nineties, Rudd found himself in a bad way just five laps into the race when his cooling unit failed.  As the cockpit got hotter he asked to have a relief driver standing by, so Hut Stricklin was in the pit area ready to takeover.  Ice packs helped momentarily, but his back was blistering so the team tried to cool him off with a hose.  Unfortunately, the hose they used had been lying in the sun, so when they doused him the first time the water was hot.  That method worked better on later stops, but in the end it was Rudd who toughed it out and led the final 96 laps to win and extend his streak to 16 consecutive seasons with at least one NASCAR Cup Series win.



Riley Herbst has put together an exemplary 2023 campaign so far this season and continues to chase the points lead. In seven starts, Herbst has compiled two top-fives and six top-10 performances, ranking him second in the standings (265). Notably, in his last three appearances at Martinsville dating back to October 2021, he has earned top-10s across the board which also includes a third-place finish in his most recent showing.


Kenny Wallace was the last Ford to cross the finish line first at Martinsville in 1994, the final regular series stop there until a one-off 2006 show and again in its 2020 reboot. Wallace, who started 12th, was temporarily delayed in his ascent to the front, when he was sent to the back on lap 95 for loose sheet metal hanging from his Ford Thunderbird. By virtue of several cautions, he eventually slipped past brother Mike into second, and then passed pole-sitter David Green on lap 220 for the lead. He led 81 of the 300 laps. Simultaneously, brother Rusty also won that weekend in Cup, sweeping Martinsville in the 1994 season in his Ford Thunderbird.



Four Ford F-150s are vying for the top spots in the championship standings six races into the season. Ty Majeski has proved that consistency is key, earning five top-10s to the lead spot (259). He had his best finish of the season on Bristol dirt last weekend, finishing second behind race-winner Joey Logano. Defending series champion Zane Smith is runner-up (225), but also holds the most wins this season with two. Ben Rhodes (212) and Matt Crafton (198) are third and fourth. Notably, Ford has won three of six races so far, which includes Logano’s trip to victory lane on Saturday.


The Truck series made its Martinsville debut in September 1995, and Ford was quick on the throttle to leave its mark in victory lane. Joe Ruttman squeezed by on the bottom during a thrilling battle for the top-spot into the final laps, leading the final two for the win. Grant Enfinger is the last Ford to win at Martinsville, simultaneously securing him a spot in the 2020 Championship 4.

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