Speedway Digest Staff
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Martin Truex Jr. has developed a new attitude toward Martinsville Speedway since joining Michael Waltrip Racing in 2010.
Before his MWR arrival, Truex raced on the Virginia half mile eight times with an average finish of 24th.
Since joining MWR, Truex posted two top-five finishes and contended for victory three times behind the wheel of the No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota.
Truex hopes the statistical trend continues this weekend when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits the historic track.
Martin Truex Jr. On Martinsville: “This race couldn’t happen at a better time for us. We are all rested up thanks to the off weekend. I am up for the challenge that I think Martinsville will create for this new 2013 NAPA Toyota. The track is so much different from any place we race or go to test for that matter. The NAPA team did some testing there towards the end of the 2012 season for Goodyear. My team has a little experience running the newer-style car with less weight but we haven’t been there with the rear camber change. With all that said, I expect it to be different and I think it is going to be one of those deals where we will have to work on the car during the entire weekend as this track changes so much from Friday to Sunday. The key is to keep after the car and hope we can hit on as many good things as possible. I am really looking forward to that challenge. We have had some really good runs there in my NAPA Toyota. I expect that to be the case again.
“California was really the first weekend that my team has struggled so I am not overly concerned with what we need to do or change going into this weekend. We’ve had fast cars all season. We just missed it at California. It happens sometimes. I have a lot of confidence with what we are taking to Martinsville and since joining MWR, I’ve had fast cars at Martinsville. I used to think it was one of my toughest tracks, but since joining MWR, I feel like we’ve always been a contender.”
BILT fitness equipment will become the primary exercise machines used by Rev Racing drivers and pit crew athletes at its training and development facility in Concord, NC.
BILT is a revolutionary arsenal of fitness equipment featuring innovative technologies such as the world’s only COD (Change Of Direction) Machine that allows a user to move laterally with weight. BILT’s exclusive line of 12 game-changing exercise machines has been the secret weapon of Andre Agassi and Gil Reyes for years
“We are excited to be partnering with Rev Racing,” said Steve Miller, CEO of BILT by Agassi & Reyes. “We feel our equipment will only improve upon the championship level training and development being provided to the next generation of NASCAR drivers and pit crew athletes.”
Rev Racing operates the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program, which is the industry's leading developmental program for ethnic minorities and women drivers and pit crew athletes. In 2012 Rev Racing captured the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Championship and Rookie of the Year honors. Additionally, its drivers finished as Rookie of the Year runner-up and won the Wendell Scott Trail Blazer Award.
“I am impressed with the uniqueness and safety aspects of the BILT machines,” said Max Siegel, Owner/CEO Rev Racing. “We are constantly looking for ways to take our training and development to the next level. I am confident the BILT equipment will do just that.”
Rev Racing PR
Max Gresham has kept himself quite busy since the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) last raced six weeks ago.
He's spent a lot of time around the Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR) shop. He's tested at the Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway as well as at Motor Mile Speedway in Dublin, Virginia, preparing for upcoming races. He's also worked as a driving coach on Eddie Sharp Racing's Late Model program with driver Will Gallaher.
He admits, however, that he's impatient to get behind the wheel of his No. 8 Made In USA Brand (MIUSA) Chevrolet Silverado during a regular race weekend.
"I know it takes a team time to recover from Daytona, so the gap between races is understandable," Gresham said while he prepared for Saturday's Kroger 250 at the Martinsville Speedway. "But a driver just wants to race as much as possible. It's hard to ask a racer to slow down for that long."
Saturday's race at the iconic .526-mile short track is one of the popular stops on the truck series schedule. The speedway has hosted NASCAR races since 1949 - many years before 19-year old Gresham was born.
"I really like Martinsville," Gresham said. "Most NASCAR drivers have a true appreciation for short tracks. It's where we all grew up. It's where we all learned to race.
"The cars and trucks have evolved a lot through the years at Martinsville. But one thing never changes there - it's still a track where a driver has to fight for every spot on the track."
The paperclip-like raceway has been famously described as a pair of drag strips connected with a pair of u-turns. Martinsville is tough on brakes, tough on engines and tough on nerves. Every pass frequently involves some sort of contact. Statistically, it's unlikely any of the 36 scheduled starters will finish without damage.
"The secret is to use enough bump-and-run to work your way to the front without making many enemies," Gresham said. "That's a delicate balance."
With three career starts at the historic short tack, the Milner, Ga. native has more starts at Martinsville Speedway than at any other track on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule.
Gresham started 21st and finished a career-best 11th at Martinsville last October. He and crew chief Chris Showalter have set their sights on improving on that solid result.
"We try to set goals each week and our goal for this one is a top-seven finish for Martinsville," Showalter said. "With six weeks to get ready, we're as prepared as we can be for this race. Max quickly adapted to Martinsville last year and he made up a lot of ground in the final 50 laps. We aim to pick up where we left off."
"Keep in mind," Gresham said, "a win would be a top-seven finish, too."
For Gresham, Saturday's race also jumpstarts a stretch of three races in three consecutive weekends. Gresham and Eddie Sharp Racing will be at Rockingham, N.C., on April 14, followed by a trip to the Kansas Speedway on April 20.
"This is a busy stretch for us," Gresham said. "And that's the way I like it."
Max Gresham PR
Kyle Busch is one of the few people that knows what driving in the NACSAR Camping World Truck Series feels like as a 16-year-old. In fact, he was the last 16-year old to compete in the series before NASCAR imposed a minimum age requirement of 18 near the end of the 2001 season. So, it is very fitting that with Saturday’s Kroger 250 being the first race under NASCAR’s new modified age requirement - which allows 16 and 17-year-olds to race on ovals 1.1-miles or shorter in length as well as road courses - that Busch, now an owner, will field 16-year-old Erik Jones in his No. 51 Tundra.
When Jones takes the green flag for Saturday’s 250-lap race, his first of five events scheduled for this season, he will become the first 16-year-old to compete in the Truck Series since Oct. 14, 2001. That day, Busch finished ninth in the Orleans 350 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway and picked up his second top-10 finish in six starts. Busch was scheduled to run a few more races in 2001 and a full schedule in 2002, but was forced out of the truck when NASCAR imposed its minimum age requirement.
Jones enters his Truck Series debut already haven proven capable of winning on some of late model racing’s biggest stages. In August of 2010, at the age of 14, he became the youngest winner in ASA Late Model History when he won the Bob Cross Memorial at Dixie Motor Speedway in Birch Run, Mich. Then, just over a month later he became the youngest winner of the prestigious Oktoberfest Super Late Model race at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem, Wisc. In 2011, Jones collected seven fast time awards two feature wins en route to the JEGS/CRA Late Model All-Star Tour championship. Later that year, he became the first non-Florida resident in over 30 years to win the Governor’s Cup Super Late Model race at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway.
Already boasting an impressive resume for a young driver, Jones earned the respect of Busch from their dealings at a pair of late model races last season. With the Sprint Cup Series racing at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway the same weekend as the All-American 400 at Nashville (Tenn.) Fairgrounds Speedway last October, the NASCAR star was unable to participate in all of the practices for the event. Jones stepped in and helped fine tune KBM’s No. 51, leaving Busch with what was the dominant car in the first half of the race before he cut a tire after picking up debris during a long rain delay and ended up in the wall. Then, last December on the biggest late model stage in the country, the Michigan native outdueled Busch in the closing laps of the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. en route to victory in the prestigious event.
“I’ve been around Erik a few times running late models -- he’s a good kid and a good driver, so we’re excited to be adding him to the crop of young talent we’ve assembled at KBM this season,” Busch said. “He did a nice job practicing my late model at Nashville last year for the All-American 400 and then he raced me hard and clean in the closing laps of the Snowball Derby to win that race. Doing those types of things is how you get recognized in this sport.”
When practice starts on Friday and the new kid is officially on the clock, he will be equipped with the same No. 51 Tundra that Denny Hamlin drove to victory in last October’s Truck Series race at the half-mile track. With KBM’s history of success at Martinsville, the teenager is hoping to add a Truck Series top-10 finish to his resume when he clocks out.
Caleb Holman will attempt to qualify the Food Country USA Chevrolet for the Kroger 250 Camping World Truck Series event at Martinsville this Saturday.
Henderson Motorsports, who ran a limited schedule in 2012, also has a new, but familiar face back on board with them this year as longtime friend and former driver, Butch Miller, will serve as crew chief this season.
“Butch has brought a lot of experience and wisdom to our program having been in the truck series for so long. I feel that we will be able to improve this year and keep building on what we learned last year,” said Holman.
This season Henderson Motorsports will have primary sponsor Food Country USA, along with associate sponsor Solar Bat Sunglasses of Brazil, Indiana throughout the season. This weekend at Martinsville, Morning Fresh Farms has come on board as an associate sponsor.
Henderson Motorsports PR
Shell and the Common Ground Alliance have teamed up for a fifth consecutive season to raise awareness for 811, the national “Call Before You Dig” hotline. Shell will leverage its sponsorship with Penske Racing around seven races this season in a continued effort to protect America’s underground infrastructure.
As in previous years, the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion will carry the 811 logo during National Safe Digging Month in April. Due to the program’s continued success, new races have been added this year, as Shell-Pennzoil driver Joey Logano will feature a large Call 811 logo on the deck lid of his car during races in Talladega on May 5 and Sonoma on June 23. Logano will also display the 811 logo on the TV panel during races in Phoenix on March 3 and Las Vegas on March 10.
“Since the beginning of our relationship with Shell, we’ve continued to expand our efforts to raise awareness of this great program,” said Roger Penske. “We recognize the importance of calling 811 before starting any digging projects, and are excited to be able to support our sponsor in spreading the word about this crucial initiative to race fans across the country.”
“Many of the fans watching races are also working on digging projects - both small home projects and large-scale construction – so this initiative has been tremendous in terms of reaching this core audience,” said Greg Smith, President, Shell Pipeline Company LP. “CGA routinely sees an increase in calls to 811 whenever we run these programs, so we’re happy to continue this relationship.”
In addition, starting today, the Common Ground Alliance will give race fans the chance for a weekend of a lifetime with the “Spring to Sonoma” sweepstakes. One lucky fan and a guest will win a grand prize trip to wine country in Sonoma, CA, and tickets to that weekend’s race on June 23 to see the Call 811 logo on the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion up close and in person. The dream weekend will also include a special meet and greet with Logano. Fans can enter at www.springtosonoma.com.
Even small projects like planting trees or shrubs require a call to 811. The quick and easy call will connect you with a local One Call Center operator who will record information about your dig location and notify the underground facility operators so they can mark the approximate location of underground utilities and pipelines. Once the lines are marked, you can begin to dig, but always dig with care.
For more information, visit www.call811.com.
Shell/Matter Inc. PR
Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Jani-King/STP Ford team improved their finishing position by four spots from the spring to fall races last season, eighth and fourth, respectively. This weekend they are looking to improve by another four spots and take the historic No. 43 back to victory lane in Sunday's STP Gas Booster 500.
The last time the iconic No. 43 won was when John Andretti drove the No. 43 STP car to victory lane at Martinsville Speedway in 1999. The No. 43 has a solid history at the .526-mile track as it holds the most wins at Martinsville Speedway with 16 wins, 15 captured by Richard Petty himself.
The partners joining the team this week include old and new. One of Richard Petty Motorsports newest partners, Jani-King, will make their 2013 debut on the hood, while STP will boast the Gas Booster logos on the sides of the No. 43.
Almirola's paint scheme will commemorate STP's relationship with Petty and the first time the STP logo was on Petty's car at Riverside in 1972.
Comments from Jani-King/STP Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
"Our team did a great job at Martinsville last year. We had two top-10 finishes - first an eighth and then up to fourth in the fall. We're hoping we can move up another four spots and get to victory lane. It would be really special to win there. We have STP on the car, the same as the last win for the 43 car, and they are the race sponsor too. We also have Jani-King riding on the hood, and they are a great company. They came on board last year as our partner. We'll have a lot of people here this weekend, so it will be nice to have a good run.
"History means a lot to me, so to be driving the Riverside paint scheme this weekend is a huge honor. Richard has the most clocks from Martinsville, but I know he would really like to add another to his collection. I sure would love to put one in my house too. Todd (Parrott) really knows what it takes to get a car around this track. I feel good that we will have another good run on Sunday and gain a lot of points.
"This is a difficult track to be successful. It is really hard on equipment. You really have to take care of the car and start well to be there at the end. I think last year we had a car that almost looked like it did when it left the shop after the race. We just stayed pretty clean during both races, and that makes a big difference the last 100 laps."
Comments from Crew Chief Todd Parrott on Martinsville:
"We had a really good finish at Martinsville last fall. Aric does a really good job of taking care of the car, especially the brakes, which is so important at Martinsville. Qualifying is also really important since it's a short track and hard to pass. We will work really hard on Friday to make sure we have a good starting spot for Sunday. We finished fourth last year, so now we really want the win - especially with all of the history Petty has here."
After a weekend off, Marcos Ambrose and the No. 9 Stanley Ford team are ready to get back to racing in Sunday's STP Gas Booster 500 at the .526-mile Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Ambrose has secured three top-15 finishes at the paper clip track in his eight career starts, including a 15th-place finish last spring. With his strong road course skills, Ambrose knows how to conserve his brake package to be able to drive aggressively at the end of the 500-lap race.
He hopes to lean on that knowledge to capture the team's first top-10 this season this weekend.
Comments from Stanley Ford Fusion Driver Marcos Ambrose:
"Martinsville is a tough track and takes some aggressive driving to make a pass. You really have to be up on the wheel every lap and have a car that has a lot of grip. Most important, however, are the brakes. The track is so flat that they really get abused. You have to take care of them, and I lean on some of my knowledge to make sure we're fast at the end of the day.
"Something new for us is having Drew (Blickensderfer) with us as well. He has a good history of putting good setting ups in his cars at Martinsville. Friday's qualifying will be important for us. If we can get a good starting position, we won't have to use our equipment up to move through the field. We can go easy at the beginning, so we can get aggressive at the end.
"Strategy is also really important here. You can take gambles early on to help with track position. Between Drew, myself and the whole team, I think we can put together a good finish this weekend and move back up the standings."
Comments from Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer on Martinsville:
"Martinsville is a tricky track, but I think it plays right into Marcos' driving style. The track is very tough on equipment since you have to use so much brake to get around the corner. Marcos is an expert when it comes to braking. We will have to get him a good starting position, and I think we'll be on point for a good finish."
Already one of the few tracks in NASCAR to offer a tent-covered, pre-race gathering for race fans inside the track, Atlanta Motor Speedway is presenting customers the opportunity to gain even more access and amenities in 2013 with the announcement of the High Speed Hospitality ticket upgrade for ticket holders of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500, Sunday, Sept. 1 at AMS.
For only $60 per person, the AdvoCare 500 hospitality upgrade gives purchasers an infield hospitality package which includes a pit tour prior to the race, food and beverage, entertainment by a live DJ and a cash bar. Menu items for the afternoon include hot dogs, sirloin burgers, fried chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, corn on the cob, peach pie, iced tea and lemonade.
Spectator gates for the AdvoCare 500 will open at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 1, and the hospitality tent will open at 3:00 p.m. Pit tours will be offered from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., with the hospitality tent closing at 8:00 p.m., just following the green flag of the AdvoCare 500.
Fans will enter the infield at the turn three tunnel for hospitality village, and must have both the hospitality pass and a grandstand ticket to the AdvoCare 500. All children under the age of 18 will have to have a minor waiver form completed by the parent, and will need to be accompanied by the parent while in the infield.
The deadline to purchase High Speed Hospitality for the AdvoCare 500 is Aug. 5, but supplies are limited. Reserve your infield public hospitality upgrade today by contacting the AMS Ticket Office at (877) 9-AMS-TIX or (770) 946-4211. AdvoCare 500 tickets are also on sale now with adult tickets starting at just $39. Student tickets are only $19. For more information on the AdvoCare 500, visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.
As racing season shifts gears into April, a month nationally associated with environmental awareness, NASCAR is launching two programs further bolstering the sustainability efforts the sanctioning body, industry, and a wide range of partners have in place to help reduce the sport’s carbon footprint.
Headlining the month-long NASCAR Green® initiative leading up to Earth Day and Arbor Day are two signature programs designed to help drive more sustainable behavior within the sport. NASCAR Race to Green™ will galvanize teams, tracks, drivers, Official NASCAR Partners, and most importantly fans, around the theme of protecting and preserving our environment. The NASCAR Green Clean Air Tree Planting Program™ Delivered by UPS will plant trees to absorb carbon emissions equivalent to all of the racing in NASCAR’s three national series for the entire season. One mature tree over the course of its lifetime absorbs about one metric ton of carbon dioxide, the same amount of carbon dioxide emitted by a NASCAR Sprint Cup car driving 500 miles.
NASCAR Race to Green includes a call-to-action for fans and the industry to pledge trees that will be planted across the country as well as in a number of areas recently devastated by natural disasters. NASCAR fans can visitwww.NASCAR.com/green to donate trees– for $1 per tree for a 2-3 foot sapling – to be planted in those stricken areas.
As presenting sponsor of theNASCAR Green Clean Air Tree Planting Program, UPS has partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to commit to plant more than 8,000 trees – including 90 in each market where the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races for the remainder of 2013. Additionally, UPS will serve as presenting sponsor for the NASCAR Green Summit later this fall.
“Our NASCAR Green activities this month comprise our most ambitious and collective effort to date in reducing our sport’s impact on the environment,” said Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO. ”With the help of our industry, some best-in-class partners, and most importantly our fans, NASCAR has become the leader in sustainability across all sports and has had a substantive impact in creating awareness and positively changing consumer behaviors around Green.”
“UPS shares NASCAR’s commitment to operating sustainably and doing our part to protect and preserve the environment,” said Ron Rogowski, UPS vice president, global brand and sponsorships. “Last year, we launched an initiative to plant one million trees worldwide that aims to reduce and offset carbon emissions. At UPS, we are always looking for ways to apply our sustainability experience to everything that we do, including operating more than 2,600 alternative fuel vehicles.”
Since its inception in 2008, NASCAR Green has become one of the most powerful environmental awareness platforms in the country. NASCAR has the largest recycling and tree planting programs in sports; has put nearly four million miles on Sunoco Green E15, a biofuel blended with 15 percent American-made ethanol from American-grown corn; and has the largest renewable energy stadium projects in the world.
Importantly, the efforts that have led to these achievements align with NASCAR fan values. According to a 2012 study conducted by Toluna, NASCAR fans are twice as likely as non-fans to view their household as very green – always looking for new ways to positively impact the environment. The same research shows that NASCAR fans are multiple times more likely than non-fans to closely associate NASCAR with being environmentally responsible – not surprising since NASCAR fans are more likely to see the various initiatives the sport has in place to positively impact the environment.
NASCAR Race to Green will highlight accomplishments, events and activities taking place within the sport in three key areas: waste, emission and power. While NASCAR Green initiatives have and will continue to span the entire year, including the complete roll out of theNASCAR Green Clean Air Tree Planting Program Delivered by UPS, the following activities will take place during the month of April:
- · On April 5, Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR and UPS will host an event officially kicking off theNASCAR Green Clean Air Tree Planting Program during the race weekend.
- · Kansas Speedway will prominently feature the NASCAR Green logo on the infield grass and the backstretch wall and start/finish line will be painted green. A Toyota Camry Hybrid will serve as pace car for the race.
- · Pocono Raceway in partnership with NASCAR will be donating 8,000 tree seedlings under the supervision and monitoring of the National Parks Service. The donation is a continuation of a major reforestation effort that will eventually result in 150,000 new trees at the Flight 93 National Memorial, the nation’s permanent memorial to the 40 passengers and crew of United Flight 93, and all of those lost on September 11, 2001. The UPS Foundation will also donate 35,000 trees to this site.
- · NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ teams and drivers will also be doing their part throughout April. A large majority of teams will feature the NASCAR Green logo on the B-post of their race cars. Additionally, NASCAR drivers are expected at a number of industry events throughout the course of the month.
- · NASCAR will also break new television creative on NASCAR on FOX during the network’s broadcast of the STP 500 on April 21 at 1 p.m. ET. A 30-second spot, courtesy of Ogilvy & Mather, will bring the NASCAR Green platform to life. The campaign will also include print and radio. Additionally, a digital vignette will be released, encouraging fans to join the effort by pledging trees.
- · The NASCAR Foundation in partnership with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) will host a park renovation project in the Kansas City area on Earth Day highlighting the first of the UPS tree planting events. Participants will include SCA representatives, local high school students, UPS volunteers, Sprint employees and representatives from the NASCAR community.