ES: Martinsville: Series round four preview

K&N Pro Series East Set For Weekend Run At Historic Martinsville The UNOH Performance 200 on Sunday, June 6 will mark the first stand-alone race in the 24-year history of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The...

K&N Pro Series East Set For Weekend Run At Historic Martinsville

The UNOH Performance 200 on Sunday, June 6 will mark the first stand-alone race in the 24-year history of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

The K&N Pro Series East has migrated south from its New England roots in recent seasons as NASCAR's top developmental series has put down roots up and down the Eastern Seaboard. In 2010 the historic paperclip half mile at Martinsville has finally joined the schedule.

Although the UNOH Performance 200 will not technically be the first appearance for the K&N Pro Series East at Martinsville, it will mark the first stand-alone event.

In its infancy, the K&N Pro Series East participated in many races in conjunction with the NASCAR Nationwide Series. This was the case on two occasions at Martinsville as combination races were held in March of 1989 and 1990. Current K&N Pro Series East car owners Dave Davis and Jeff Spraker were two of four East drivers that participated in the 1989 Miller High Life 500 Classic. Davis was the highest finisher of the four East drivers at 12th overall and Spraker was 27th in the race that was won by Tommy Ellis.

Spraker has been behind the wheel of various types of race cars at Martinsville and is excited for the upcoming UNOH Performance 200.

"That place is near and dear to me," said Spraker, owner of the No. 08 and 37 cars. "I worked on Modifieds there 30 years ago and its good to go back there now with young drivers and do what we're doing now."

While he can readily name off many of the top drivers from the Nationwide Series that he competed against at Martinsville in 1989 and 1990, Spraker believes that the current group of K&N Pro Series East teams will bring a high level of competition to the famed short track.

"To be able to go down there on our own, and for people to have an opportunity to see what kind of competition we have and the caliber of equipment and drivers we've got, is really a great thing for the series," Spraker said. "This is one of the greatest race tracks we've had an opportunity to go to, and being there in 2010 and having an opportunity to compete and win there is going to be huge for these guys."

While there is a handful of today's drivers that have raced a Late Model at Martinsville, the UNOH Performance 200 will the first opportunity for many of the K&N Pro Series East veterans. Past champion Matt Kobyluck has anticipated the race ever since he saw it on the schedule.

"Because of all the history at Martinsville, and that we've never ran there before, its exciting to know that we are going to one of the places that has such a storied history," Kobyluck said. "For us to go run there is great, I'm looking forward to it, and hopefully we'll get a shot at a Grandfather Clock."

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The Race UNOH Performance 200
The Place Martinsville (Va.) Speedway

The Date Sunday, June 6
The Time 3 p.m. ET

TV Schedule SPEED, June 10, 6 p.m. ET
Track Layout .526-mile oval

Race Purse $125,542

2009 Winner Inaugural Event
2009 Polesitter Inaugural Event

Event Schedule
Saturday, June 5: Practice 10:40-11:25 a.m.; Final Practice 12:20-1:05 p.m.; Qualifying 3:30 p.m.

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Raceday Notes

The Race - The UNOH Performance 200 at Martinsville Speedway will be the fourth event in a 10-race schedule this year for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. This will be the first stand-alone race in K&N Pro Series East history at Martinsville. It will also mark the second of two trips to Virginia following the April 3 race at South Boston Speedway.

The Procedure - The starting field is 32 cars, including provisionals. The first 28 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 200 laps (105.2 miles).

The Track - Martinsville is a .526-mile "paperclip" oval with flat straightaways and 12-degree banking in the turns. The track originally opened in 1947 and has played host to each of NASCAR's three national series as well as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tours through the years.

History - The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East participated in combination races with the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Martinsville Speedway in 1989 and 1990. Dave Davis was the highest finishing East competitor in the 1989 race (12th overall) and Jamie Aube was the highest finisher in 1990 (13th overall).

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Gresham Emerges As A Contender

Perhaps overlooked in preseason talk of NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship contenders, Max Gresham has quickly emerged as a title threat in 2010.

Gresham, a 17-year-old from Griffin, Ga., enters this week's UNOH Performance 200 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway as the points leader after three races thanks to wins in the last two outings.

The first win of his young career came on April 3 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway in just his fourth series start.

"The feeling I got after the South Boston win was unbelievable," Gresham said. "It felt great to finally have a strike in the 'W' column because the Joe Gibbs team deserved it and I felt, as the driver, it was about time to get them another win."

Gresham stayed hot as he outdueled fellow high school junior Ty Dillon in a last-lap battle to win the prestigious East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway on May 23.

"I'd definitely call that the biggest win of my career," Gresham said. "It was also probably also the most memorable because I had to earn it there in the last lap. It was one of those times that I will never forget."

Although short on speedway experience, Gresham has been quite successful at the larger track. He participated in the K&N Pro Series West race at Iowa in 2009 and finished third.

"A lot of the bigger tracks really agree with me because I like to go fast and I like to have the control of all the variables," Gresham said.

With the UNOH Performance 200 at Martinsville Speedway up next, Gresham will attempt to sweep the two K&N Pro Series East races in Virginia, but to do so he'll have to go back to a short-track racing mentality.

"Going to Martinsville is kind of like going back home [to a short track]," Gresham said. "Its going to be a lot of fun because it's a big-name track and it's a place I've always fantasized about racing at."

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Crum Returns To Scene Of Biggest Win

Jake Crum earned the biggest win of his young racing career on Oct. 4, 2009, and it came at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, site of this week's NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race.

An 18-year-old from Statesville, N.C., Crum's racing career has mirrored that of many in his age bracket that are competing in the development levels of NASCAR's ladder system. He translated success in Karts to Bandoleros and Legends, and has competed in Late Models since 2006. But last October the up-and-coming driver earned a prized checkered flag that some of his competitors had yet to attain while racing more years than Crum had been alive.

Crum captured the 2009 Bailey's 300, which is arguably the most prestigious Late Model race in the nation. The annual NASCAR Whelen All-American Series showcase can attract 200 entries for the 42-car starting grid, and the qualifying process takes place through the course of two days.

Crum was able to hold off a loaded field of Late Model standouts from the region and took the checkered flag in the 202-lap main just ahead of Brandon McReynolds and Brennan Poole. At 18, Crum became the youngest winner in the history of the Bailey's 300.

Crum made his K&N Pro Series East debut in the 2010 opener at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway on March 27, but had fuel line problems and had to settle for a 28th-place finish. The team has missed the last two races, but has worked hard to return the car to the track at the site of Crum's greatest triumph.

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Last Time Out: East Continues Control Of Iowa Combo Race

The third race of 10 on the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule took place at Iowa Speedway on May 23 in the annual East-West challenge. The Goodyear Tire Dealers of Iowa 200 was won by the East's Max Gresham.

East Stays in Control at Iowa - The fourth edition of the East-West challenge at Iowa finished the same way as the first three did - with an East driver in Victory Lane. Headed by winner Gresham, this year's race saw eight East drivers among the first 11 to cross the finish line. David Mayhew was the top West finisher - fifth overall - and was also the event's overall Coors Light Pole Award winner.

Career Day for Dillon - The Coca-Cola Move of the Race Award from Iowa went to Ty Dillon, who improved 23 positions among his East competitors from start to finish. Dillon wound up as the race runner-up, which marked the best finish in his six career starts.

Swindell Most Improved - The Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award from Iowa went to Kevin Swindell, who improved 19 positions among his East competitors from the previous race at South Boston. Swindell crossed the line ninth overall for his third top-10 effort in eight career starts.

Whitt Credited With Second Pole - True rookie Cole Whitt has no problem adapting to the time-trial qualifying process in the K&N Pro Series East. He earned the 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Light in the season opener and was credited with a second as the fastest-qualifying East driver at Iowa. He was second overall to Mayhew in qualifying, but finished 38th in the race after transmission problems and fell out of the season points lead.

Homecoming Ends in Disappointment for Moffitt - The only full-time K&N Pro Series East competitor from the state of Iowa, Brett Moffitt had his sights set on taking the checkered flag at his home track. The Grimes native led 54 laps to earn the Wix Filters Lap Leader Award for the East, but wrecked on Lap 195 while battling for second place and had to settle for an overall finish of 17th.

Wallace Back in Contention - After he took the checkered flag in the season opener at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway, Darrell Wallace Jr. slipped to a 20th-place finish the second time out at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. A third-place finish at Iowa has him back in contention, however, as he sits just 16 points behind Gresham in the standings.

LaJoie Comes Up Big Again - Although he has just four career starts, Corey LaJoie is forging a reputation for coming up big in the spotlight. After finishing third in the 2009 finale at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, the son of two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion Randy LaJoie drove to a fourth-place finish in the prestigious East-West challenge at Iowa. That wasn't all the driving he did, as LaJoie and his dad drove the hauler up to Iowa from N.C.

Gifford's Streak Ends - A string of five-consecutive top-five finishes by Ryan Gifford ended at Iowa when he finished 24th, three laps down. Gifford's series debut last year is the only other time in seven career starts he has finished outside the top five.

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Up Next: New England 125

The fourth race of the 2010 season will take the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East to familiar territory: New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The "Magic Mile" in Loudon, N.H., has played host to more K&N Pro Series East races than any other facility in the series' history. The 2010 New England 125 will be the 53rd stand-alone race for the East in Loudon since the 1.058-mile track opened in 1990. The East also participated in nine combination races at New Hampshire with the NASCAR Nationwide Series from 1990-95.

Brad Leighton has been the most successful K&N Pro Series East driver at New Hampshire with eight career victories at the "Magic Mile." Recently Eddie MacDonald has been the driver to beat as he has taken the checkered flag in three of the last for races. Matt DiBenedetto and MacDonald won the two New Hampshire races last year.

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Did You Know? ...

Max Gresham's win at Iowa Speedway was a third in four combination races by Joe Gibbs Racing. Joey Logano (2007) and Kyle Busch (2009) also picked up victories. Brian Ickler drove his own car to the win in 2008.

Six of the top seven drivers in points are rookies. The only exception is second-place Ryan Truex, the defending series champion who is in his second year.

This weekend is the first of four weekends the series will share the venue with the Whelen Modified Tour. New Hampshire (twice) and Lime Rock are the others.

Martinsville Speedway held NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series, Camping World Truck Series, K&N Pro Series East, Whelen Modified Tour and Whelen Southern Modified Tour races during its storied history.

-source: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Ryan Gifford , Jake Crum , Kevin Swindell , Matt Kobyluck , Joey Logano , Cole Whitt , Eddie MacDonald , Brian Ickler , Brett Moffitt , Ryan Truex , Matt DiBenedetto , Brandon McReynolds , Max Gresham , Kyle Busch , Ty Dillon , Darrell Wallace Jr. , Brennan Poole
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing