Compton Martinsville race preview

MARTINSVILLE, VA, (April 3, 2001) - It took a big gamble for Hurt, Va., native Stacy Compton to make it into NASCAR Winston Cup. He literally put everything he owned on the line for the spring race at Martinsville in 1996, and it paid out in ...

MARTINSVILLE, VA, (April 3, 2001) - It took a big gamble for Hurt, Va., native Stacy Compton to make it into NASCAR Winston Cup. He literally put everything he owned on the line for the spring race at Martinsville in 1996, and it paid out in spades. For Stacy Compton, who still lives in his hometown, the return to Martinsville is a reminder of how far he has come in NASCAR Winston Cup racing. Compton, who had big dreams of racing but a very limited budget, mortgaged his house to run one race at Martinsville Speedway on April 21, 1996. He ended up qualifying ninth, behind Dale Earnhardt. "I was running in the late model series and a bunch of guys from Lynchburg asked what it would take to get to the next level," said Compton. "We decided I needed to get in front of the people who could make it happen. The next thing I know they're calling me to say they've bought a car and a race team. I thought they meant a late model team, but they had bought out a Winston Cup race team." It wasn't that easy for Compton. The owners needed money to fund the team and go racing, and that's where Compton came in. "I mortgaged my home, the body shop I owned and several pieces of property I owned to get into the ride," he said. "It was a big gamble. Luckily, I qualified ninth. If I hadn't made the show, my entire life would have been different. I'd probably be working in the body shop again, and I'd probably have a different house." Flash forward six years and Compton is firmly in the driver's seat of the No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T of Melling Racing, with a well-funded race team and the resources of a new manufacturer returning to the sport. He had his best start of the year on the outside pole at the 2001 Daytona 500 and has collected two top 15 finishes. Compton looks back at his first race and is amazed how it all happened. "When we went to Martinsville in April 1996 for our first race, it wasn't too bad," he said. "Nobody expected to go out there and do well. We were a one-car team with no experience and no resources. We were a bunch of late model guys suddenly in Winston Cup where we shouldn't be. We were all doing everything - working in the shop, working on the car at the track, driving the car." Compton remembers his first Winston Cup race like it was yesterday. "I wasn't nervous until qualifying," he said. "I was sitting on the track behind Dale Earnhardt. I was fine, until he went out for his qualifying lap. That's when I realized what was going on. I thought, 'What am I doing out here?'. He ran a 20.39. Then, I went out and ran my first lap, and I knew I was fast enough to get in the show. Then I ran my second lap at 20.39 and qualified 9th right behind Earnhardt. I couldn't believe it." Now, Compton's job at the track is a little different, but he still likes to come back to his hometown to race. "We've always run well at Martinsville," he said. "We've had two top 15s there. And we get to run against all the guys I ran against growing up, like Jeff Burton, Ward Burton, the Wood Brothers and Elliott Sadler. It's only 45 minutes from my hometown. I even get to sleep in my own bed. Even better, Mom (Ida Compton) does a lot of cooking for the race. There will be plenty of food at the No. 92 hauler this weekend. "I'm more focused on sponsors and team management and just driving the car now," Compton said. "Sometimes I'm not real sure what to do with myself. I feel like I should get in there and help out the guys. But running at Martinsville is always great. We're testing at Greeneville this week, so that should give us an advantage." Compton hopes that advantage leads him to Victory Circle, so he can finally pay off that mortgage.

-Debby Robinson

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Ward Burton , Stacy Compton , Elliott Sadler