Martinsville: GM Racing preview

* Chevrolet Silverado drivers have scored six wins at NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) competition at Martinsville Speedway (MS) - more than any other manufacturer * Dennis Setzer, No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado, is the only driver to...

* Chevrolet Silverado drivers have scored six wins at NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) competition at Martinsville Speedway (MS) - more than any other manufacturer

* Dennis Setzer, No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado, is the only driver to win two (back-to-back Fall 2002 - Spring 2003) NCTS races at Martinsville

* Setzer holds record of most top-five finishes at Martinsville (six) and most top-10 finishes (eight)

* Chevrolet Silverado has won six of the12 NCTS manufacturers championships

Martinsville, VA - Basketball - racing. Racing - basketball. It will be an interesting weekend for Brendan Gaughan, No. 77 South Point Hotel/Georgetown Hoyas Silverado. With his precious Georgetown Hoyas progressing to the NCAA final four for the first time since 1985, held this weekend at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA, Gaughan will be anxious to score a win in the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway so he can turn his attention to cheering on his basketball teammates.

Gaughan will support the team he played for by sporting Georgetown University Hoya decals on his Silverado in the Kroger 250. Last year in the spring race at Martinsville, Gaughan finished sixth. He tested earlier this week at Ace Speedway in preparation for the first short tack race of the season.

"Dennis Setzer was at the track with us all day helping us," Gaughan said. "He is my hero when it comes to short tracks, so having him here is really a big asset for me and this team. I never say this, but I'm actually looking forward to Martinsville this year."

But before the hoops action starts, the historic Virginia .526-mile paperclip-shaped track promises to deliver another action-packed NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race.

"The racing at Martinsville has really changed in the last few races with the harder tires that Goodyear has been bringing," said Dayne Pierantoni Chevrolet program manager NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for GM Racing. "It has really become a race of track position, pit stops, and pit strategy, and even fuel mileage. You really need to qualify well so that you can start up front and run with the leaders throughout the race. The final pit stop needs to come as early as possible so that you can retain track position in the event of late race cautions.

"The days of bolting on four tires near the end of the race and charging from the back to the front are gone. We've got some great short track drivers in our Silverados. Most of the teams have been out testing in the last week or so. I am really looking forward to this race on Saturday."

Dennis Setzer, No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado, has proven time and time again he is the master of the track that has been on the NCTS schedule since the 1995 inaugural season.

As the only driver with multiple wins plus the most top-five and top-10 finishes, Setzer sets the standard the competition strives to best. He has led 332 laps and completed 95.6% of the laps in his 15 previous starts at MS.

"I just like Martinsville," said Setzer. "It is a special track for me because in a lot of ways I consider it to be my home field."

Setzer, a 16-time winner in the NCTS, was born, raised and still lives in nearby Newton, NC.

"I have been fortunate to be in good equipment there," Setzer continued. "And spent so many years there running late models. I have had some bad luck there as well, but you learn to take a little bit of both at the track and build off of that.

"We are excited to get there with our Spears Silverado. We've been doing a little testing and think we are ready to go. We have some momentum from good run at Atlanta. It was good in many aspects to be solid so quickly with my new team. Everyone is cheered up, perked up, on their toes leaning forward prepared for Martinsville and beyond. I didn't have a very good year last year and neither did our Spears Manufacturing team so I am looking forward to getting more solid runs and wins with them."

Despite his enormous success in the NCTS, Ron Hornaday, Jr. is still missing a winner's trophy from Martinsville. In nine previous starts, the two-time series champion has three top-five and four top-10 finishes.

Hornaday, Jr., the all-time winningest driver in the NCTS with 29 victories, is looking to change that statistic in Saturday's Kroger 250.

"Martinsville is one of those tracks that drivers like to go to, because they've cut their teeth racing on short tracks all over the United States," said Hornaday, driver of the No. 33 AES HR Solutions Silverado. "It's just fun hard racing.

"We tested last week and now we are taking my favorite No. 003 (chassis) truck to the Martinsville Speedway. But really, the most important thing that will come into play at Martinsville is pit stop strategy.

"It's exciting, that's all there is to it. Every time you walk through the tunnel, there are hundreds of fans getting autographs, and you can be right up close to them."

His boss, Kevin Harvick, will join Hornaday, Jr. on the track this weekend. Harvick will make his second NCTS start of the season in the No. 2 Camping World Silverado.

"I feel like once we go to Martinsville, we should be where we need to be," said Harvick. "We work hard on our flat track racing, knowing that is one of our strong points.

"Martinsville is one of those places where you have to pit right, you have to do a lot of things right.

"I like Martinsville. Hopefully by running the Truck race on Saturday, we can figure out what we can do better right off the bat on Sunday in the Cup race."

Matt Crafton, No. 88 Menards Silverado, is looking to improve his third place finish in the 2006 Kroger 250 at Martinsville.

"I love Martinsville," said Crafton. "The track puts a lot of what happens in the race back in driver's hand, in to the seat, behind wheel. Our Silverado is not so aero dependant as tracks we have been racing recently.

"We ran really well there last year in spring and finished third. In the fall race we looking for solid top-five finish when we suffered engine failure.

"You just have to survive there. It is one of those tracks where you would rather be lucky than good - it is survival of the fittest."

Bill Lester, No. 15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Silverado, heads to Martinsville after spending the "off" weekend racing in the Rolex Series XM Satellite Speed Jam event at the Homestead Miami Speedway, Saturday March 24, 2007 in the No. 12 Daytona Prototype Car with teammate Roger Schramm.

"Martinsville hasn't always been kind to me," said Lester. "I am hoping to improve on my performance there. We are taking the No. 15 Silverado to test today at the Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, NC to prepare for the Martinsville race. The track has some similarities that I think will help. This Billy Ballew Motorsports team has a great short track program and I'm looking forward to the test and then heading to Martinsville to see what we can put together."

Lester too, will have a teammate at Martinsville. Paul Menard will jump behind the wheel of the No. 51 Menards Silverado.

"Martinsville is such a cool track and the Trucks put on a good show there," Menard said. "The last time I raced a truck was at South Boston in 2003, which is actually a lot like Martinsville. I don't have a ton of experience at the track, so it will be good to get in some laps before the Cup race. We ran the Busch race here last year and stayed in or around the top ten all day so I'm definitely excited about this weekend."

Kraig Kinser, No. 47 Ginn Resorts Silverado will also have a teammate this weekend at Martinsville. Timothy Peters will driver the No. 46 Baileys Silverado, both fielded by Morgan-Dollar Motorsports.

"It will be nice to go to Martinsville following a disappointing finish in Atlanta," said Kinser. "We had one of the trucks to beat there, and I think we showed some people that we are capable of running up front. Rodney (McGehee, crew chief) and the team have been working really hard to get ready for Martinsville, and we had a great test at Caraway last week, so I know our Ginn Resorts truck for Martinsville will be strong also. Our goals are to stay out of trouble, have strong pit stops, and head to Kansas next month with some momentum on our side."

"I have always had a close relationship with the Bailey's," said Peters. "They definitely resurrected my racing career. To return to the trucks two years later with Bailey's and Morgan-Dollar Motorsports (MDM), one of the best teams in the truck series, is an honor. It will be cool to get back to my hometown track. I am also excited to get back in the trucks with such a strong team, and having Richard Childress Racing steam under the hood will definitely be an advantage for us. The guys at MDM put together awesome trucks, and their record at Martinsville is something that I hope to add to with another win this weekend."

Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Willie Allen, No. 13 ThorSport Silverado, is looking forward to Martinsville. Allen made his debut in the NCTS at Martinsville in 2005 and scored an outstanding sixth place finish. The results from that race propelled Allen's career to now being a full-time contender in the series.

"I am very excited about going back to Martinsville," said Allen. "One of the biggest challenges at Martinsville is making sure you have good track position. Qualifying for a good starting spot and flawless pit stops will be very critical for the race. My background is short track racing, so I love going to all of the short tracks that we race on. I like Martinsville a lot because it really puts the driver back in control. As a driver you really feel that you can make a difference. I think that we have a good baseline set-up to start out with. The biggest thing about being able to go back to a track that I have raced at before is knowing the feel that the truck needs going into the race. That is what we have struggled with on tracks that I haven't been to before, not knowing what the truck should feel like from practice to the start of the race. Since I have raced in a truck at Martinsville before I have a better understanding of how to carry that over."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Dennis Setzer , Matt Crafton , Bill Lester , Brendan Gaughan , Paul Menard , Kraig Kinser , Timothy Peters , Willie Allen
Teams Richard Childress Racing