"Ragin' Cajun" Hal Martin Makes Impressive 1st Daytona Attempt with Venturini Motorsports; Unfortunate Tire Rub Ends His Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 Early
(February 13, 2011) - Daytona, FL - Hal Martin, otherwise known from his New Orleans roots as the "Ragin' Cajun," came to Daytona with strong hopes for a clean run at the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards inauguaral 2011 race. After an impressive outing at both the December Hoosier Tire test session, as well as the January three-day ARCA Series full test session, Martin was confident in his understanding of the new track pavement.
"I knew after working with (crew chief) John Quinn, a veteran at Daytona, that we had the right setups on the No. 55 NOLA Motorsports Toyota Camry," said Martin. " We knew that tire wear would be low, and coming into the race week, it would be all about mastering the draft and fuel management. The car was perfect, and going into both practice sessions, we knew we were a super competitive team."
Martin went on to post top 3 times in the first practice session, as well as dominating the second practice session at the top of the boards. He posted a sixth fastest qualifying time on Friday afternoon, just as the Daytona sun was going behind the stands - just behind his Venturini teammates, Kyle Fowler and Steve Arpin.
The first five laps of the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 were a jockey for the 26-year-old in his second start for Venturini Motorsports, as in the fifth lap, the 94 car of Brett Hudson slammed into the wall - causing the race's first of four cautions. Restarting 5th at lap 10, Martin settled in behind the No. 4 car of Ricky Carmichael - where he would stay in single file racing until the second caution flag at lap 18, when the No. 52 of Tom Hessert hit the wall. The team chose to pit for fuel topoff and windshield tear off.
Restarting p13 at lap 22 on the green, Martin quickly navigated the pack to hit p5 by lap 33 - remaining there until the day's third caution flag came out at lap 46. Quinn chose to bring Martin in for a right side tire change, as well as ј tank of fuel. Martin would restart p18 on lap 49 and progress to p15 by lap 55, where he began a successful draft behind Venturini teammate in the No. 66, Mark Thompson.
Another caution came out at lap 56 when the No. 10 wheeled by Ed Pompa hit the wall by the start/finish line. On the restart at lap 62, Martin was p14 and ready to take on the last 40 laps by drafting with teammates up to the top.
A chain reaction on Lap 64, however, sent nine cars reeling. Hal Martin, suffering a tire rub in the No. 55, began to slow on the backstretch, hailing the attention of teammate Steve Arpin in the No. 25 Mike's Hard Lemonade/Trent's Tire Toyota. When Martin's tire blew in the outside lane, Arpin tried to move inside to avoid a collision but instead caught Milka Duno and the No. 63 Citgo Lubricants Dodge.
"It was a disappointing end to such a good run this week," Martin continued. "All I can say is that we're taking what we've learned about Superspeedways to Talladega in April. It was a great overall experience, and I wish I could have wheeled the No. 55 to Victory Lane - but it happens. We have to keep going and keep racing, and I have to thank everyone at the Venturini Motorsports shop for working so hard to give us a great race car all week."
-source: hal martin PR