Record number at Martinsville test 2001-09-19

MARTINSVILLE, VA (Sept. 19, 2001) -- If practice truly does bring perfection, there should be a heap of perfect cars at Martinsville Speedway for the Taco Bell 300 next week. A record 107 race teams showed up Wednesday morning for the annual ...

MARTINSVILLE, VA (Sept. 19, 2001) -- If practice truly does bring perfection, there should be a heap of perfect cars at Martinsville Speedway for the Taco Bell 300 next week.

A record 107 race teams showed up Wednesday morning for the annual open practice session at the track, held a week before the Taco Bell 300 every year.

The Taco Bell 300, set for Saturday, September 30, draws the top Late Model Stock Cars from throughout the region. Because of that, it has become almost a necessity for teams to spend a day of practice on the difficult .526-mile oval.

"Nowadays, if you want to be competitive in this race, you have to come here for this test and do all you can do to make your car a little bit better," Brandon Butler said during Wednesday's session.

Butler's had one of the best cars in this part of the country all season. Racing at South Boston Speedway and Southampton Motor Speedway on a weekly basis, Butler has racked up 16 wins. He won the track championship at South Boston and last week claimed the Mid-Atlantic Region championship.

But he spent almost seven hours Wednesday trying to get his Bailey's Chevrolet just a little bit quicker.

"We worked hard all day," said Butler, who is from near Richmond, VA. "I felt like by the end of the day we were one of the 10 fastest cars here.

"This race means a lot to me. It would really help cap off a good year if I could come here next week, qualify good and run well."

Butch Hamlet, who won last Saturday night at New River Valley Speedway, was so pleased with his car that he and his crew loaded it into the hauler with a couple of hours left in the test session.

"It was the best day I've ever had at Martinsville Speedway," said Butch Hamlet, driver of the Taco Bell Chevrolet. "We were good off the truck and we made some small changes. After that we felt like we were one of the quickest cars here."

"If we get the perfect lap in qualifying next Saturday, we have a chance to be on the pole," said Hamlet, who lives in Bassett, VA, just a few miles from Martinsville Speedway.

Hamlet wasn't the only driver from the Martinsville area who left the track wearing a smile Wednesday. Ray Young, also from Bassett, was in street clothes by 3 p.m., standing on pit road timing other drivers.

"Everybody told me I ought to put it (his car) up before lunch," said Young, who drives the Packaging Products Chevrolet. "I believe it's the best car I've ever had here."

Qualifying for the Taco Bell 300 begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29 to determine the top 20 starting position. The fastest qualifier will receive $1,000 from Chatlee Boats.

On Sunday, September 30, the Taco Bell 300 kicks off with four 25-lap qualifying races with the top five drivers from each race filling out positions 21-40 in the starting field. There will be two provisionals given to complete the 42-car starting lineup for the 200-lap feature race. At lap 100 of the 200-lap feature, the race will be stopped for a 10-minute break and the leader at lap 100 will be presented the $5,000 BB&T Award. Also at the break, several of the top cars will be inverted. The race will continue until the caution is displayed at lap 190 for a single file restart for the final 10 green flag laps.

Tickets for the Taco Bell 300 are $20 each for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12. All seats are unreserved.

The Taco Bell 300 is the first of two weekends of racing at Martinsville Speedway this fall.

The NASCAR Winston Cup Series will run the Old Dominion 500 on Sunday, October 14 at 12:30 p.m. On Saturday, October 13, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Series will run the Advance Auto Parts 200 beginning at 2:45 p.m. Tickets for the Advance Auto Parts 200 are $30 each and children ages 6-12 get in for $5. All seats are unreserved. Great reserved seats are available in the towers for $40-$65. Tickets can be ordered by calling the speedway ticket office toll free at 1-877-722-3849 or (540) 956-3151. Tickets also can be ordered online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.

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