MARTINSVILLE, VA. (April 3, 2004) -- Ricky Craven smiles a lot ... that's just the way he is, but mention Martinsville Speedway and that smile grows. "I love the place. I think it's such an important part of what we do. It's an event...
MARTINSVILLE, VA. (April 3, 2004) -- Ricky Craven smiles a lot ... that's just the way he is, but mention Martinsville Speedway and that smile grows.
"I love the place. I think it's such an important part of what we do. It's an event that twice a year I get very excited about, not just about attending, but about winning," Craven said recently as he looked forward to the Advance Auto Parts 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Martinsville on April 18.
"I think we've got another grandfather clock in our future."
Craven took one of Martinsville Speedway's traditional grandfather clock trophies home in the fall of 2001 after he captured the SUBWAY 500. That win help solidify his love affair with the demanding .526-mile track. It was his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series win, a win that came after a long struggle back from injuries.
"I've actually been there (Martinsville Speedway) enough that it's sort of like home. It's very comfortable for me," said Craven. "It's one of the places that hasn't changed a lot. They've done a great job of maintaining or preserving the Martinsville look or the Martinsville short-track image and at the same time done a good job of creating all the excitement needed for racing in the 2000s.
"It's a fun place to race. I can't imagine anybody not enjoying racing at Martinsville because sometime in your life you have to have raced at a half-mile flat track somewhere. And you know its fun to go back to a throwback to the old days where you lean on each other, get knocked around a little bit, use the front bumper a little bit."
Beating and banging is part of the Martinsville tradition. Craven and Dale Jarrett did a little of it during Craven's winning run in 2001. And he says some of the rough stuff is expected. The key is understanding where to draw the line.
"I think we all understand there is a certain etiquette in this sport and it's governed by the flagman or whoever controls the race," explained Craven. "But beyond the green, white and checkered, there's a black flag and you never want to expose yourself to that. Before you get to that point, it's really about racing someone the way you would want them to race you.
"But there is a big difference in making contact and throwing a few jabs and taking one another out. I've got no problem with going toe-to-toe, bumping, beating, however you want to describe it as long as you don't take someone out. This is a track and a race that will provide plenty of entertainment and excitement without anyone trying. There needs to be no rehearsal, no pre-game, just go out and try and run as hard as you can for 500 laps."
Tickets for both the Advance Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, April 18, and the Kroger 250, on Saturday, April 17, are on sale and can be purchased by calling 1.877.RACE.TIX. Martinsville Speedway's ticket office is now open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday; and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Advance Auto Parts 500 tickets may also be purchased online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com