Speedway Digest Staff
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One look at Kyle Busch’s ever-growing trophy case reveals an assortment of trophies for his now 109 overall wins among NASCAR’s top three levels of competition, which includes 25 Sprint Cup Series wins. In fact, one entire trophy case features 13 trophies, alone, from the high-banked Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway half-mile oval.
But even though Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has more trophies than he probably knows what to do with, there’s one glaring omission from another famous half-mile short track – the traditional, 7-foot-tall clock that Martinsville (Va.) Speedway president Clay Campbell’s late grandfather and track founder, H. Clay Earles, began awarding Martinsville race winners more than five decades ago.
Needless to say, Busch, has his sights set on getting that long-awaited maiden victory at Martinsville, the site of Sunday’s STP Gas Booster 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race after scoring his career-best finish there of second last October.
Of the 23 venues that will host Sprint Cup events in 2013, Busch has won at least once at 20 of those venues in at least one of NASCAR’s top three divisions – Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck. There are only three current Sprint Cup tracks – Martinsville, Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway – where Busch has not scored a victory in any of NASCAR’s top three series.
Despite the lack of a Martinsville grandfather clock, Busch has plenty of reasons for optimism this weekend, considering how he has been able to pick up his game at the .526-mile paperclip-shaped oval ever since being paired with crew chief Dave Rogers.
During a three-race stretch starting when he joined Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in the spring of 2008, the Las Vegas native never finished better than 24th at Martinsville. But Busch’s fortunes there began to turn around with a solid fourth-place finish in the fall of 2009.
Enter crew chief Rogers in March of 2010. During his first full season under Rogers’ guidance, Busch started a strong string of races at Martinsville with a fourth-place run in October 2010.
In his next trip to the tricky Virginia short track in March 2011, Busch led a race-high 151 laps before scoring his career-best Martinsville finish of third. And, in October 2011, he led another race-high 126 laps before being collected in an accident not of his own doing late in the race. Indeed, Busch feels like the M&M’s team keeps getting closer and closer to that elusive win at Martinsville with each return. Despite a blank in the win column, Busch has compiled a strong record of seven top-five and eight top-10 finishes in his 16 Sprint Cup starts there.
The M&M’s driver will hope to ride the wave of momentum generated by his first victory of the season two weekends ago at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. There, Busch led a race-high 125 laps and brought home the checkered flag in dramatic fashion as he slid to the outside of the dueling Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin coming off of turn four on the final lap.
He’ll hope that momentum continues as he aims for his first Martinsville grandfather clock after knocking on the door during several recent visits to the Southern Virginia short track.
Martinsville Speedway PR
Clint Bowyer knows a thing or two about RK Motors Charlotte - his sponsor for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.
RK Motors Charlotte is the country’s leading retailer of investment-grade classic and collector cars.
Bowyer worked with RK Motors Charlotte on two of his custom car builds - a 2011 Toyota Tundra barn find truck with a red patina paint scheme and a 2012 Tekked Out Toyota Prius.
Bowyer partnered with RK Motors Charlotte to help with the marketing behind the 2011 Tundra and used its on-site photo studio to get much of the photography done for the Sherwin-Williams Planet Color All-Star Charity Challenge. The barn find Tundra was auctioned at Barrett-Jackson Orange County Auction on June 23, 2012 and raised over $100,000 for Bowyer’s charity the 79 Fund.
Bowyer again teamed with RK Motors Charlotte to build a 2012 “Tekked Out” Toyota Prius for the Toyota Dream Build Challenge that was part of the Toyota exhibit at SEMA. Bowyer laid out the design and let the highly-trained staff at RK Motors go to work to build his design.
On rk motors:“I love cars. All kinds from pickups, to classics to something a little new and different. I also have my own style and the way I like to do things. RK Motors Charlotte is a labor of love for Rob Kauffman and everyone involved and it shows down to the very last detail in the work they do. I’ve worked with them now twice as far as the 2011 barn find Tundra and the 2012 Tekked Out Prius. Their attention to detail, craftsmanship and ability to market custom and classic cars is second to none. They’ve figured it out and found a winning formula. I’d love to get a win for them with their colors on the car to see if they’d put it in their showroom.”
Being No. 1 is nothing new for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
But becoming the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader, which he accomplished with a second-place finish on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, broke new ground for the driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS.
It’s the first time the 10-time Most Popular Driver has led the standings in consecutive seasons. Earnhardt most recently sat atop the driver standings after the August 2012 race at Pocono Raceway. He also ranked No. 1 in points in 2004.
Retaining the ranking, qualifying for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and winning an elusive championship definitely are in Earnhardt’s sights.
Sunday’s finish kept a magical season rolling. He’s now finished second twice, at Auto Club and behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson in the Daytona 500. Earnhardt is the only competitor to have finished among the top 10 in each of this season’s five races.
That Earnhardt overcame several problems – notably a 22-second pit stop – and still contended for the victory is further proof that his Steve Letarte-led No. 88 Chevrolet team is solid during the long haul.
“Yeah, we had a little problem on pit road on one of our stops and lost a lot of positions,” said Earnhardt in his post-race interviews. “But we’ve always stuck together and patted each other on the back. We knew we were going to get another chance to redeem ourselves on pit road.”
A late caution flag and the chance to mount fresh tires gave Earnhardt the chance to close strong – something he’s not always been able to do.
“(That was) something I never really was good at for years, and now we’re doing it as good as anybody,” he said. “(We’re) just riding the wave; just real happy with how things are going for our team.”
Earnhardt’s best championship finish, third, came in 2003. He has two more top five finishes and a top-10 championship result – seventh in 2011 – his best since joining Hendrick Motorsports.
Last season might have been “the one” until a concussion forced Earnhardt to sit out Chase races at Charlotte and Kansas. Since his return at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Earnhardt has finished seven of nine races among the top 10 and completed all but two laps.
Next week’s event at Martinsville will mark Earnhardt’s 475th NASCAR Sprint Cup start and his 600th overall in NASCAR competition. Although he’s never won at the 0.525-mile track, Earnhardt has finished in the top five on 10 occasions, including third in last year’s spring race. He has finished second on two occasions, both times in Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets.
HMS Racing PR
QUIROGA ANTICIPATES SHORT TRACK RACING: Martinsville Speedway may be Germán Quiroga's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at the 0.526-mile oval but he is no rookie to short track racing. The Rookie of the Year candidate will once again wheel the No. 77 NET10 Wireless Toyota Tundra on a track type where he feels most comfortable.
The three-time NASCAR Mexico Series champion has captured eight wins in the Mexico series on tracks smaller than one mile in length. Quiroga made his Truck Series debut at the 1.06-mile track of New Hampshire Motor Speedway where he earned a 16th-place finish.
NET10 WIRELESS® BACK FOR MORE: NET10 Wireless will once again serve as primary sponsor for Quiroga and his No. 77 Toyota Tundra at the Series' shortest track on pavement. This is the second of 12 races for NET10 Wireless as primary sponsor. The no contract cell phone leader will continue to support as associate sponsor in the remaining 10 races of the season. For more information on NET10 Wireless, visit www.NET10Wireless.com.
CHASSIS HISTORY: The No. 77 team will bring chassis No. 002 to Martinsville Speedway. This chassis got a makeover during the three month racing hiatus. Last season, the chassis raced at Rockingham Speedway, Martinsville Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway and had its best finish (3rd) at Iowa Speedway in the series second visit to the track.
Most recently, the team tested chassis No. 002 at the half-mile track of Greenville-Pickens Speedway in preparation for this weekend's 250-lap event.
REVIEW MIRROR - DAYTONA: German Quiroga started the NextEra Energy Resources 250 in the 20th position in the No. 77 NET10 Wireless Toyota Tundra at the historic Daytona International Speedway. During the course of the race he worked his way up into the top-10, to the eighth position. The race was proceeding in a very orderly fashion until lap 54 when a 14 truck pileup caught Quiroga, running 10th at the time. After the team repaired as much of the damage as they could on pit road, Quiroga was able to finish the race and bring the No. 77 Toyota Tundra across the finish line in 25th.
Germán Quiroga talks about Martinsville Speedway:
You are no stranger to short track racing. Does that give you confidence heading into Martinsville Speedway?
"I feel a lot more confident heading into Martinsville. With each race I gain more confidence. I have been able to spend time with Dan (Stillman, crew chief) and my team over the last month as they've been working hard putting trucks together. I feel more at home now. Red Horse Racing has really opened their doors to me and provided me with great people around me. Now it's my turn, to return the hard work and prove it on the race track. I am going to really try to focus in finishing the races. That's my first goal. But for sure, I am looking for my best result in the series.
Is there one characteristic of Martinsville Speedway that excites you?
"Just by looking at the truck my team has built, it's really awesome. I'd like to display it in my living room. Now, I'm ready to take it to the race track and race it. I am very excited, it's a great opportunity I am very comfortable and very happy with my team. Our communication has grown and I just feel great right now. I feel like I am surrounded by great people and look forward to our weekend in Martinsville."
BACK HOME, A LITTLE SWEETER THIS TIME AROUND: 'There is no place like home', and Danville, Virginia resident Timothy Peters returns home this weekend to Martinsville Speedway on Saturday afternoon for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250. For most drivers and teams, getting back on track at Martinsville Speedway is all about kicking the season into high gear.
But for Peters this visit to the 0.526-mile speedway is a little sweeter than in the past. Peters and wife, Sara welcomed their first child, Brantley Tony Peters into the world on December 17, 2012 and 'home' now brings a brand new meaning. Peters hopes the comfort of having his son near will bring him the extra boost to drive his No. 17 Parts Plus Toyota Tundra into Victory lane.
ON THE PLUS: The No. 17 Toyota Tundra will once again proudly represent Parts Plus while they serve as primary sponsor for Timothy Peters at Martinsville Speedway. The Memphis-based warehouse distributor originated more than 56 years ago tracing back to a series of jobber programs. Since 2005, Parts Plus has been a member of the Automotive Distribution Network that has over 300 member distributors under five brand names and from over 400 separate warehouses across the United States, Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information on Parts Plus and locations near you, visit PartsPlus.com.
CHASSIS HISTORY: The No. 17 Parts Plus Toyota Tundra team will utilize chassis No. 137 at Martinsville Speedway. In the series last visit at the paperclip, Timothy Peters put chassis 137 on the pole, setting a new track record of 96.411 mph (19.641 sec.). Peters went on to collect his 13th top-10 finish of the season, with a seventh-place finish.
Most recently, the team tested chassis No. 137 at the half-mile track of Greenville-Pickens Speedway in preparation for this weekend's 250-lap event.
REVIEW MIRROR - DAYTONA: Timothy Peters and his No. 17 Parts Plus Toyota Tundra qualified 23rd for the Daytona International Speedway NextEra Energy Resources 250. Peters was driving a masterful race, laying back from the pack with teammate, John Wes Townley in order to have a dancing partner should the need arise. Peters began weaving through traffic in his Parts Plus Toyota Tundra and managed to make it to 11th place, until a five truck accident caught Peters, ending the evening for the No. 17 Toyota Tundra on lap 92.
Timothy Peters talks about Martinsville Speedway:
How does this Martinsville race have a different feel for you than in the past?
"I am a little more relaxed now because Sara (wife), and Brantley (son) can either be with me at the race track or they are only twenty minutes away at home. As far as a state of mind, its comfort, it helps me. There is a possibility we'll bring him out and show him off.
You set a new track record and sat on the pole at Martinsville in the fall. What does that say about your team?
"The momentum for me is going home. I love Martinsville. I get to sleep in my own bed and I've had a lot of success there. Setting the track record and starting the race from the pole gives me momentum for this year's race. These guys have their noses down and are working hard. Butch (Hylton, crew chief) is always coming up with new ideas to try. I'm looking forward to strapping into our Parts Plus Toyota Tundra this weekend and picking up where we left off."
TAKE TWO, MARTINSVILLE: When the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series makes its way into Martinsville Speedway for the Kroger 250 on Saturday afternoon, John Wes Townley has one goal in mind - improvement. The 23-year old says, 'You're only as good as your last race,' and in only two starts at the 0.526-mile track, Townley has a high finish of 18th. The No. 7 Zaxby's Toyota Tundra team has their sights set on a solid run at the paperclip.
WHAT OFF WEEKEND?: While most of the Truck Series drivers had a few weeks of open track time, Townley was able to get on track and practice for the upcoming 250-lap race at Martinsville. The young driver took his talent to the NASCAR Nationwide series to compete on 'The World's Fastest Half Mile' at Bristol Motor Speedway, where he went on to finish 17th.
ZAXBY'S: Zaxby's has been indescribably good for over 20 years. John Wes Townley will compete with Zaxby's serving as primary sponsor for the entire 22 Truck Series race schedule. With over 565 locations in 13 states, Zaxby's offers an alternative to fast food with prepared-at-order Chicken Fingerz, Traditional or Boneless Wings, sandwiches, Zalads, and Zappetizers. The Athens, Georgia based chain also provides a variety of sauces ranging from Wimpy and Tongue Torch to Nuclear and Insane. It's no surprise that Zaxby's has been indescribably good for over 20 years. For more information, please visit Zaxbys.com, Facebook.com/Zaxbys or follow on Twitter @Zaxbys.
CHASSIS HISTORY: The No. 7 Zaxby's Toyota Tundra will take a winning chassis to Martinsville Speedway. Chassis No. 003 tackled the monster mile in June to capture Red Horse Racing's first victory at the speedway. In addition, the chassis competed in four races during the 2012 season at both Martinsville Speedway races, the series first visit to Iowa Speedway in July, and Bristol Motor Speedway.
Most recently, the team tested chassis No. 003 at the half-mile track of Greenville-Pickens Speedway in preparation for this weekend's 250-lap event.
REVIEW MIRROR - DAYTONA: John Wes Townley went into the NextEra Energy Resources 250 having won the ARCA Racing Series race from the pole the week prior at Daytona International Speedway. After qualifying 28th, Townley hung back with teammate Timothy Peters so they could team up when the right opportunity presented itself to go to the front. Townley's highest running position was 13th, but the Zaxby's Toyota Tundra was damaged in a crash at lap 92 resulting in a 21st-place finish.
John Wes Townley talks about Martinsville Speedway:
You were able to get some track time during the off weeks. How does that prepare you for Martinsville?
"It's hard to get a good bearing as far as testing goes without being at the race track. The good thing is I was able to be on track and get in some good testing. I was able to spend some time with my guys and get to know them a little bit better during this down time and I think we'll be good to go for Martinsville. I've got all the confidence in the world in my team and I'm really looking forward to it.
Does your momentum from Daytona still carry into Martinsville after having time off?
"Yes, the momentum is still driving me from Daytona. It helps out a lot. Confidence wise, I feel great. What else drives me is that 'You're only as good as your last race' and we need to improve from where we finished at Daytona. We have a great team and a great sponsor with Zaxby's. I'm really looking forward to getting back on track and get the season rolling."
Ryan Blaney (@RyanBlaney22), driver of the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-Series, will make his 11th career start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) during the Kroger 250 on Saturday afternoon, April 6th at Martinsville Speedway.
Cooper Standard returns to the No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) entry for their third season with the team, and first full schedule of primary sponsorship on the BKR (@TeamBKR) Ford F-Series truck.
This Saturday will mark Blaney's second career NCWTS start at Martinsville Speedway start. In October of 2012 the rookie driver finished 8th in his debut on the half-mile paperclip. Martinsville is Blaney's fifth short track start. Blaney has finished in the top ten in each of his first four short track starts.
Doug Randolph will call the shots for Blaney on top of the pit box.
"I'm really looking forward to the racing at Martinsville with a shot at getting Cooper Standard back to Victory Lane. It would speak numbers - proving a manufacture change was a good move this early in the season for Brad Keselowski Racing. A win here would put everyone at BKR in good spirits heading into a three week stretch. It is incredible to have Brad Keselowski and Cooper Standard's support to have the opportunity to race on NASCAR's oldest and shortest track." - Ryan Blaney
Ross Chastain (@RossChastain), driver of the No. 19 Checkered Flag Foundation Ford F-Series, will make his second start for Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) during the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, April 6th.
Owner Brad Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation will serve as the primary sponsor of the No. 19 BKR (@TeamBKR) entry this week for the first time this season.
This Saturday will be Chastain's third career NCWTS start at Martinsville Speedway and his eighth career short track start, with an average finish of 13th at that style track. In last year's Spring Martinsville race, Chastain put himself on the map with a strong 8th place finish.
Chad Kendrick will lead the No. 19 Ford F-Series team as Crew Chief in Martinsville.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
"I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to run my third race at Martinsville Speedway with a shot at bringing Brad's Checkered Flag Foundation Ford F-Series Truck to its first ever Victory Lane. Not only is it a blessing to be a part of such a tremendous team (@TeamBKR), but I want to be the first NASCAR driver in any Series since 2005 to bring Ford back to Martinsville Speedway's Victory Lane. It will be my crew chief, Chad Kendrick's, home track so we have big expectations for Saturday."- Ross Chastain
SS Green Light Racing is pleased to announce that 18-year old Indiana open-wheel standout Grant Galloway will join the team for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 on April 6th at the Martinsville Speedway. Galloway will pilot the team’s No. 07 Toyota under the guidance of longtime driver, owner and crew chief Bobby Dotter.
Grant began his racing career in 2003 running the quarter midgets in the Hoosier state and has accumulated dozens feature wins as he advanced to Kenyon midgets and USAC National midgets through late models. In 2011 he set the track record for USAC Midgets at the Plymouth (IN) Speedway.
A unique sponsorship program has established with the North Central Indiana Teen Challenge, a faith-based men’s center in Elkhart, Indiana. “I’ve grown up in the church with a Christian family and strong beliefs, racing at Martinsville with the North Central Indiana Teen Challenge on the hood is a partnership that both of us can benefit from,” explained the freshman studying business at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana.
The Lakeville, IN native was one of only twelve young drivers chosen in 2010 to compete in the Richard Petty drivers search. Grant proved his ability to be hired by the Richard Petty Driving Experience to gain additional seat time. He worked at some of the great super speedways like Chicagoland, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Richmond International Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Walt Disney World Speedway. In the fall of 2010 Galloway was promoted to Dodge Motorsports SRT program as a professional driver participating in driving schools all over the country.
“My racing idols have been Richard Petty and Jeff Gordon so I was very blessed to have been chosen to work with he Richard Petty Driving Experience and the Dodge SRT program,” Galloway said. “I was able to run two-seat ride-along programs all over the country, it was a good learning experience for me at such a young age.”
“I especially enjoyed working with Dodge on the SRT Driving Experience,” Grant continued. “When Dodge came out with the Charger police cars, I got to train State Troopers on how to handle the powerful hemi-powered cars.”
“I feel it was a lucky break to tryout with Bobby,” said Galloway. “My goal this week is to be safe, stay out of trouble and run as many laps as possible. Things happen quickly at Martinsville so you have to be ready. I want to thank my parents Todd and Deanna and everyone that has helped me get to this point in my career.”
Although it will be Grant’s first start in one of NASCAR’s premier series, the SS Green Light team will have plenty of experience to back the Indiana teen boasting one of the longest tenures in the NCWTS with 293 consecutive starts dating back to 2001. Bobby Dotter, co-owner and long-time NASCAR competitor will personally crew chief Grant in his debut. “Grant is a really good kid and when we gave him the opportunity to test with us last fall we were all impressed with his control and ability to adapt to our Toyota truck. We’re all excited to have him join us.”
Foremost Transport, Inc. will provide associate sponsorship for Galloway’s NASCAR debut. The company is currently recruiting independent drivers for it’s nationwide transport services.
Practice for the Kroger 250 will be Friday, April 5th from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. with two laps of qualifying at 5:00 p.m. The green flag will fly in the Kroger 250 at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday April 6th. All times Eastern. The race will be shown live on SPEED TV and will also be broadcast live via on the Motor Racing Network and on SIRIUSXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
SS Green Light Racing PR
It was announced today that Nelson Piquet Jr. will pilot Turner Scott Motorsports' fourth entry in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race at Martinsville Speedway. Piquet Jr., who is running full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) for Turner Scott Motorsports in 2013, will be behind the wheel of the No. 30 Wolf Pack Energy Services Chevrolet Silverado in the Kroger 250. Veteran crew chief Chris Carrier will be calling the shots from atop the pit box.
The 2012 NCWTS Most Popular Driver award winner has four previous NCWTS starts in Martinsville, with a best finish of second (fall of 2012). Piquet Jr. has three top-15 finishes at the 0.526-mile paper clip, including two back-to-back top-10 finishes last year.
Piquet Jr., who became the first Brazilian to win in one of NASCAR's top-three series when he took the checkered flag at last season's NNS race at Road America, has raced in a total of 52 NCWTS events, completing two full-time seasons in 2011 and 2012. The Brasilia, Brazil native finished seventh in the 2012 driver point standings, capturing four poles and tallying two wins (Michigan International Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway), nine top-five and 15 top-10 finishes.
"I'm looking forward to returning to the Truck Series", said Piquet Jr. "My guys at Turner Scott Motorsports have worked really hard to get the Wolf Pack Energy Services Chevy Silverado ready to race at Martinsville. We had two really good trucks there last year so hopefully we can repeat that success this weekend. I really have to thank everybody at TSM for this opportunity."
Turner Scott Motorsports heads to Martinsville after having all three of its trucks finish in the top-15 at the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway.
"We are very happy to announce that Nelson will join our Truck Series lineup for the race in Martinsville," said team co-owner Harry Scott Jr. "Nelson has been a huge part of the success we have had in the Truck Series here at Turner Scott Motorsports. He had two top 10 finishes at Martinsville last year so we are looking to capitalize on that success this weekend. We think Turner Scott Motorsports has a lot of potential this season and we're looking forward to getting back to the racetrack after a few weeks off."
The green flag drops for the Kroger 250 on Saturday, April 6 at 1:30 p.m. ET. The race will air live on SPEED, MRN and SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 90 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.