* Short-track doubleheader: Back-to-back Bristol and Martinsville events the first since 1999 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 5, 2005) -- It hasn't been done since 1999, but NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers will do it this weekend at ...
* Short-track doubleheader: Back-to-back Bristol and Martinsville events the first since 1999
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 5, 2005) -- It hasn't been done since 1999, but NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers will do it this weekend at Martinsville Speedway -- complete the second half of a back-to-back short-track stint.
Once a staple of NASCAR competition, consecutive short-track events have become rarer due to schedule realignment. But the thrill and the throwback remain.
"Two short tracks in a row, that's cool," said Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford).
"The only thing hard about back-to-back short tracks is that if you have a problem with somebody today, you're going to remember it next week there," said Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet).
Thus, drama enhances the equation, Part I of which came last week at Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR's steepest track. Part II comes this week at Martinsville Speedway, where teams transition from Bristol's high banks to Martinsville's flat, paper-clip-shaped surface -- and some of the tightest turns they must conquer.
"Man, this is what it's all about," said Kyle Petty (No. 45 Georgia-Pacific/ Brawny Dodge), who grew up around tracks like Martinsville watching his grandfather Lee Petty and father Richard Petty compete. "This is the grassroots of the sport. A half-mile track out there in Virginia, yeah, this is where a lot of it started. This is where the excitement came from."
Petty has generated recent excitement, not necessarily because of successive events on historic half-miles. Last Sunday's eighth-place finish at Bristol was his best since a 10th-place finish at Texas in April 2002. It also propelled him to 19th in the series standings, a jump of five spots. Coupled with teammate Jeff Green's (No. 43 Cheerio's Dodge) second-place qualifying effort at Bristol, it might mark a turning point in the long rebuilding saga of Petty Enterprises. A closer working alliance with Dodge, a new engine supplier in Evernham Motorsports and new crew chief Paul Andrews have Petty pumped up.
"I won't say we've got every base covered," Petty said, "but we've got somebody standing on every base and we've just got to make sure we get more people on those bases and get stronger in those areas."
Last week's effort perhaps forecasts this week's: Petty has 14 top-10 finishes in 48 career starts at Martinsville.