TONY RAINES Like the Hot Dogs, Martinsville Not Easy On the Mind or Body CORNELIUS, N.C. (Oct. 16, 2007) -- Anyone who has experienced a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway has no doubt enjoyed a hot dog or...
Like the Hot Dogs, Martinsville Not Easy On the Mind or Body
CORNELIUS, N.C. (Oct. 16, 2007) -- Anyone who has experienced a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway has no doubt enjoyed a hot dog or two.
Wrapped in wax paper, the bright-red Jesse Jones dog (a steal at $2, by the way) comes in a soggy bun topped with chili, mustard, onions and slaw. While they're pretty darn good, they aren't exactly easy on the mind or body if you've had a few throughout the day.
Interestingly, the same can be said for racing at the very track where the dogs are sold. Martinsville Speedway is the smallest track on the NASCAR Championship trail at .526 of a mile. It's shaped like a paper clip with long straightaways, tight corners and a groove about as wide as a Martinsville hot dog.
Racing in such tight, close quarters usually means quite a bit of beating and banging. As a result, several drivers are likely to get mad and lose their temper -- thus, the effect on the mind and body.
Tony Raines, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet for Hall of Fame Racing, not only enjoys the hot dogs, but also the racing at Martinsville. He's run well there in the past and has qualified 12th or better in each of his last three races at the half-mile track in southern Virginia.
With that in mind, Raines and the DLP team are hoping to not only enjoy a couple of hot dogs, but perhaps a top-10 finish on the side.
TONY RAINES (Driver, No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet):
Overall thoughts heading into Martinsville:
"We ran well there in the spring. We had a good test in the spring at Caraway (Speedway in Asheboro, N.C.) before going to Martinsville, and we had a good test at Caraway last week before going to the second one. We had a pretty solid car in the spring, qualified well and were in the top-10 before we got caught up in a wreck. We're all looking forward to going there because we feel like we've got a pretty good piece."
It seems like driving the Car of Tomorrow on a short track like Martinsville seems to fit your style. Why do you run well in the CoT at a short-track?
"I don't know. I grew up on short tracks. Martinsville is the shortest track we run on. I think it's really just showing up with a good piece, which we did in the spring. You take a good car to Martinsville and you'll run well. It's going to be incredibly tight, though. The field, from first to last, won't be separated by much."
How important is it to start up front at Martinsville?
"It's big there because track position is so critical and it's so hard to pass. You need good pit stops all day and you need to stay out of trouble, which is tough to do, sometimes, at Martinsville. It's easy to get caught up in somebody else's mess."
The surface at Martinsville is about three years old. Have you noticed a change in the surface, recently?
"When they redid the corners, the bottom of the track became the best place to be, which is why it's so hard to pass. There, for a while, they had the corners 'boogered up,' so to speak, so the bottom wasn't necessarily the best spot. Now, though, it's best to be at the bottom. It can lead to a lot of tempers flaring. You get somebody in front of you who's holding you up, you can't really pass them on the outside very well. You start beating and banging, and the next thing you know, someone is around and isn't really happy. It's a tough gig."
The DLP Team tested at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C., on Oct. 9 in preparation for Martinsville. How did that test go?
"It went pretty well. We learned a lot. I think we learned a few things that will translate to Martinsville and I'm looking for a good run there. They're similar tracks, not completely identical, but close enough to give us some good info."
Will you eat one of the famous Martinsville hot dogs during the weekend?
"I'm sure a few will find their way into my hands. They're probably not the best thing for you, but they're pretty darn good. Plus, it's tradition. You've got to have a hot dog or two when you go to Martinsville."