Ford Tests at Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 2, 1998) Ford is making a strong run at winning the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Manufacturers' Championship, and the company hopes the NAPA 250 at Martinsville Speedway on Sept. 26 will significantly add to its chase.

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 2, 1998) Ford is making a strong run at winning the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Manufacturers' Championship, and the company hopes the NAPA 250 at Martinsville Speedway on Sept. 26 will significantly add to its chase.

Ford is only two points behind Chevrolet, which leads with 140 points, in the manufacturers' race. Ford Motor Company had a two-day test at Martinsville Speedway that ended Wednesday that left the teams confident of a good run later this month.

"When we set this test up, we didn't know we'd be in the position we are right now," said Kent Harrison, Ford program manager for the series. "I went back through all the old qualifying times and race results and decided which ones (tracks) we weren't good at. We also took the new tracks into consideration and tested at Pikes Peak, Memphis and Gateway.

"We didn't win a short track at all last year and, with Stacy Compton and Tony Raines doing real well, we are starting to win some short tracks this year. That's the reason we are in the points race now."

Harrison believes Ford will run well at Martinsville.

"We don't want to spend all this time and money without winning the race. Looking at the times, Mike Bliss, Stacy Compton and Tony Raines will all be tough. The momentum has seemed to switched back to Ford."

Raines, the most recent winner in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with a victory in the Kroger 225 at Louisville Motor Speedway, thinks he found a setup that will work well for the NAPA 250.

"I think we are decent," the driver of the Pennzoil Ford said. "We picked up another tenth or so today. We ran in the 20.50 (seconds) range and the pole was a 20.42 seconds last year so it looks promising."

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Bud Pole Qualifying record at Martinsville is 20.42 seconds, 92.796 mph, set by Rich Bickle last year in a Chevrolet.

"You know, when you come back the weekend of the race that's when it matters," Raines said. "You might be the fastest truck here today and come back for the race and struggle."

Compton also feels good about his chances.

"I think we were second quickest out of the trucks here, but we would have liked to been the quickest," said the driver of the Royal Crown Cola Ford, who claims Martinsville as his 'home track' and who made a stunning NASCAR Winston Cup debut here in 1996 . "I think I know some things we can do to it for qualifying that will make us a lot quicker.

"I think we will be in good shape. We made a real long run of almost 70 laps and it ran really well. I appreciate Ford doing this. When we are at the track to race we don't have time to try things and test things because all you have time to do is try to go fast. When we come to a test like this we try spindles, we try brakes and all kinds of different things, and that's what we were able to do today. We feel like this was a real successful test."

Bliss, the driver of the Team ASE Racing Ford, said he still had some work to do, but the truck was good.

"Yeah, we're running good," said Bliss, who will be in the No. 2 Ford only through the end of this season. "We have some things to work on when we get home. The truck is bottoming out going into the turns so we have to raise it. We probably ran 150 laps and did a few tire changes, and it is responding good."

Bliss said he is looking forward to the race.

"Martinsville is a fun little half-mile because it's like two drag strips. It makes you really want to work on getting through the center of the corner. That's the place you can really pick up your time. From the center on, is were you beat them here. It's not driving into the turn. It's from the center of the turn and off the corner. It's a fun track."

The NAPA 250 gets underway at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26. Bud Pole Qualifying for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is Friday, Sept. 25 at 1:40 p.m. Tickets for the NAPA 250 are $25 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12.

The NAPA AutoCare 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race is Sunday, Sept. 27 at 12:30 p.m. Tickets still are available for $35 to $40. Also, 8,000 unreserved seats go on sale race morning at 7:30. Call the ticket office at (540) 956-3151 for information and ticket orders.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Rich Bickle , Stacy Compton , Tony Raines , Mike Bliss