'Short tracks level the playing field'
Brandon Whitt and the #38 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra team head to the .526-mile Martinsville Speedway this week for Saturday's Kroger 200; the 20th race of the 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season.
The sophomore driver from El Cajon, Calif., Whitt scored his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory at Memphis Motorsports Park in July, becoming the first to do so from the Rookie Class of 2004. Known for his penchant of being fast and loving speed, Whitt is considered one of the top up-and-coming young drivers in stock car racing. His truck his owned by Red Horse Racing, which consists of general manager Marty Gaunt, a winning veteran leader of motorsports teams; Jeff Hammond, a NASCAR Nextel Cup championship crew chief now serving as an analyst for FOX Sports; and Tom DeLoach, a former Mobil Corp. executive who, with Hammond, owns and operates PIT Instruction and Training LLC, the number one pit crew training center in the world.
The thoughts of Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra driver Brandon Whitt heading into Martinsville:
"Hey, we get to back racing this weekend after a few weeks off. That works both ways. It's cool to have some time off. We took advantage by doing some testing and taking a little vacation, but we're all racers, and we're anxious to get to Martinsville this weekend.
"Martinsville has been pretty good to us the few times we've been here. Last season we scored a couple of top-15 finishes and this year we were very near a top 10 until we got caught up in a wreck with under 10 laps to go.
"Every time we go short-track racing somebody inevitably asks me, 'why have you guys been successful on short tracks?' Well, the only explanation I have, other than the standard, 'our short-track program is top notch' is that short tracks level the playing field - in more ways than one.
"The obvious is the fact that short tracks negate aero packages which takes away an advantage bigger-funded teams may have in that department. Another advantage is that experience isn't quite as big of a factor. Every driver in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series cut his teeth on short track racing. A rookie or second-year driver might not have much experience at an Atlanta or a Daytona, or another superspeedway, but we already have extensive experience at short tracks before we ever get to this level.
"Martinsville is a fun little race track. It's flat and narrow, which puts a premium on qualifying because the more cars you can pass off the race track the better. We qualified sixth there in the Spring and were able to hold our track position for much of the afternoon. It's much easier to hold someone off at Martinsville than it is to pass them.
"Jamie (Jones, crew chief) and the guys have done an excellent job on these trucks week in and week out. Toyota keeps sending us awesome trucks and our horsepower is second to none. Anyone that has kept up with the Truck Series has been taking notice of how strong the Toyota teams have been over the past few months. Hopefully, this Red Horse Racing Tundra team will do its part to keep the ball rolling at Martinsville this weekend. Personally, I believe we can."