Brad Daugherty finished his second day of behind-the-wheel training at Martinsville Speedway Thursday with a smile on his face and more speed in his future.
The 7-foot-1 former NBA star and current ESPN racing analyst tested his National Auto Sport Association truck on the difficult Martinsville half-mile Thursday, following up a similar test in November. Daugherty has been racing for more than a decade, but said the two Martinsville visits have stepped up his game.
“I really felt much better today than after we finished the last time,” said Daugherty, who was getting some tutoring from fellow ESPN analyst Andy Petree, who was a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship crew chief, and drove several races at Martinsville in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“I got a good feel for the truck and I had some left. I’m tickled to death with the day we had and I think we can improve another tenth or so.”
Daugherty’s NASA schedule will consist entirely of road courses, but he said Martinsville’s tight turns offer up similarities to road racing.
“This is much like a road course because of the angles in the turns,” said Daugherty, who is competing in a specially constructed truck to fit his towering frame. “On this track, you have to hit your marks, just like you do on a road course.”
Daugherty and Petree shut down their trucks a bit early so they could shoot part of ESPN’s daily racing show, NASCAR Now, live from the infield. Daugherty said while the day was enjoyable and a boost to his driving skills, any actual racing experience helps his on-air credibility.
“This helps a ton with what I do at ESPN, understanding what makes the car works, what we do to work on the car,” said Daugherty, who has raced competitively on many weekly tracks in the southeast. “If you’ve never felt what it’s like to drive a race car, it’s hard to describe. By driving it, I feel it and understand it better.
“I’ve been racing a long time. It’s hard for people to understand that. They recognize me as a basketball guy, because I look like one. But I’m a racer at heart.”
Martinsville Speedway PR