Martinsville II: Denny Hamlin preview

Denny Hamlin to Drive No. 46 Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Silverado at Martinsville Speedway Econo Lodge/Rodeway Inn on Board as Primary Sponsor Statesville, NC (October 16, 2006) - Denny Hamlin has been tapped to drive the No. 46 Econo...

Denny Hamlin to Drive No. 46 Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Silverado at Martinsville Speedway
Econo Lodge/Rodeway Inn on Board as Primary Sponsor

Statesville, NC (October 16, 2006) - Denny Hamlin has been tapped to drive the No. 46 Econo Lodge/Rodeway Inn Chevrolet Silverado fielded by Morgan-Dollar Motorsports (MDM) in the Kroger 200 for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). The Oct. 21 event will mark the third time around the track for the Econo Lodge and Rodeway Inn brands from hotel franchising company Choice Hotels International, Inc. (NYSE: CHH).

His entry at Martinsville (VA) Speedway will mark Hamlin's first appearance in the NCTS since Texas Motor Speedway in October 2004. Hamlin's five NCTS starts in 2004 were his first races in one of NASCAR's big-three series.

The Econo Lodge and Rodeway Inn brands, offering affordable travel accommodations at over 1,000 locations nationwide, sponsored the MDM Silverado twice in 2005. The first sponsorship event culminated with Bobby Labonte taking a trip to victory lane at the Kroger 250 in Martinsville on April 9, 2005. Labonte scored a fourth-place for the Econo Lodge0x00ae and Rodeway Inn0x00ae brands in the EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Oct. 29, 2005.

Hamlin will team with two-time Martinsville NCTS winner, Dennis Setzer, No. 85 E85 FlexFuel Silverado. Eric Phillips, full-time MDM crew chief for the No. 46 Silverado, will call the shots for Hamlin.

"It is something I have been wanting to do, and talking about doing, for a while now," said Hamlin. "I have some good memories of the times I did run in the NCTS. I have been waiting for a good opportunity and when the chance came about to run the No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado I jumped at it.

"The No. 46 and the entire Chevy Truck program is really competitive so I am looking forward to getting behind the wheel. It's been a while but I think with some practice and this truck I should be able to find my way around Martinsville all right."

"We know many of our guests love the excitement of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series racing," said Jim Dominey, director of marketing programs and promotions for Choice Hotels. "NASCAR racing reaches consumers all across America, just like the Econo Lodge and Rodeway Inn brands. Deciding to get back on board with Chevy Silverado and NASCAR just made sense."

In making the announcement today, MDM owner David Dollar stated: "We are excited to have Denny in the No. 46 Silverado at Martinsville. With Econo Lodge/Rodeway Inns partnering with MDM for this race, we are looking forward to having a great race.

"Martinsville has been a good track for our MDM teams. Bobby Labonte got a win there in 2005 in the same truck Denny is going to drive. Denny has clearly demonstrated that he is a very talented driver. I think he and Eric (Phillips, crew chief) will work very well together."

When asked his feelings about the famed one-half mile Virginia track, Hamlin, a native of Chesterfield VA, replied: "I guess Martinsville is one of my home tracks. Growing up in Virginia I spent a lot of time at Martinsville running late models and it's a special place for me. The flat corners play to my strengths and I enjoy the fact that you really need to work on other drivers to pass them. It might take you a while but you have to keep after them and that makes Martinsville unique."

Hamlin, full-time Joe Gibbs Racing driver in both NASCAR Nextel Cup (NNCS) and Busch Series (NBS), has set the NASCAR world on fire in his short career. The 25 year-old is the only Raybestos Rookie contender to make the Chase for the Nextel Cup.

In just 38 NNCS starts, Hamlin has two career wins, both at Pocono (PA) Raceway and four poles. His NBS record is equally as impressive with two wins and seven poles in 66 starts.

His two Martinsville NNCS starts netted Hamlin one top-10 finish. He started and finished third in the NBS race held there earlier this year.

-credit: mdm

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Dennis Setzer , Denny Hamlin
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing