The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series bump drafts their way out of the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway to the 0.526-mile Martinsville Speedway nestled in the mountains of Virginia for the 18th annual Texas Roadhouse 200. This will kick off the “Round of Six” for the Chase. A win by a Chase driver will guarantee a lock at a chance for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
37 drivers will be competing for 32 spots in Saturday’s headliner. Harrison Burton will be making his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) this weekend. Daniel Suarez will field a second entry for KBM. Chase Elliott will be competing in Saturday’s event for Contreras Motorsports.
Martinsville Speedway was built in 1947 by H. Clay Earles, and is the only track to host NASCAR sanctioned races since 1949. Martinsville is known on the NASCAR circuit as “The Paperclip”, due to its shape and its tight corners. The track width is only 55 feet. The turns are 588 feet in length and the straights are 800 feet. Pit road begins at the entrance of turn three and goes to the exit of turn two and is only 46 feet wide.
There have been 24 different pole winners at Martinsville. 25 different drivers have won in Truck competition. Eight races have been won from the pole at Martinsville with Joey Logano being the last driver to do so back in 2015. In 1999, the race record was set by Jimmy Hensley at 74.282 mph. Logano holds the qualifying record set back in 2015 at 97.088 mph.
Drivers talk about what it means to race at Martinsville.
“My dad (Jeff Burton) said that protecting the bottom is huge at Martinsville. We watched tape and it gets crazy there, so he says you have to be cautious, but very assertive while protecting the bottom. He also told me that since this is my very first truck race and I am 16, I need to soak in this opportunity to learn and gain experience and the respect of the other drivers,” said H. Burton on the advice given to him by his father.
"Martinsville is a place I'm always looking forward to getting back to. As someone who grew up short-track racing, it's a place where I feel like I can excel, and it's also one of the places I have the most experience at. Track position at a place like Martinsville is key, especially in this shorter 200-lap race. You don't have a lot of time to make your way to the front, so you have to unload fast, qualify well and make the right decisions to stay up front. We are 100-percent focused on winning races at this point, so we're able to take some chances we may not have been able to make if we were still in contention for the championship,” says Daniel Hemric, who was eliminated from the Chase last weekend at Talladega.
"I would say Martinsville is one of my best tracks. I've been competitive every time I have been there. I'm not nervous. That's strange to say knowing that it's a track where anything can happen, but I'm really confident in this team and what everyone at GMS Racing has built,” says Johnny Sauter.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will have two practice sessions on Friday at Martinsville, beginning at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Qualifying for the Texas Roadhouse 200 will be at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday. The race will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network.