SMT: Martinsville test summary 2005-05-17

NASCAR Whelen Modified Speeds Soar In Martinsville Test MARTINSVILLE, VA. (May 17, 2005) - The first glimpse of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour's return to Martinsville Speedway was revealed Tuesday and it should be a fan-pleaser. Two drivers...

NASCAR Whelen Modified Speeds Soar In Martinsville Test

MARTINSVILLE, VA. (May 17, 2005) - The first glimpse of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour's return to Martinsville Speedway was revealed Tuesday and it should be a fan-pleaser.

Two drivers flirted with Martinsville Speedway's absolute track record during a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour tire test and predicted that the 20-year-old record was no longer safe.

"We'll all be faster when we come back to qualify," said Mike Christopher, one of the two Modified drivers testing in preparation for the 300-lap NASCAR Whelen Modified event at Martinsville on Sept. 3. "I think it'll be fast enough to beat Greg Sacks' record."

Sacks set not only the Martinsville Modified record with a blazing lap of 101.014 miles per hour (18.746 seconds) in 1986, but also the absolute track record. The NEXTEL Cup qualifying record at Martinsville is 97.043 mph (19.513 seconds), set by Ryan Newman last fall.

Veteran Modified pilot Junior Miller, the second driver testing Tuesday, blasted past the NEXTEL Cup mark with the quickest lap of the day, 18.80 seconds (100.723 mph), just a tad slower than Sacks' overall mark. Christopher's best lap of the day, 19.10 seconds (99.141 mph), was also better than Newman's NEXTEL Cup mark.

"At least we know we can qualify good," said Miller, who competes on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, driving for Riggs Racing out of Martinsville. "I think the times are going to be a lot lower when we come back here on Labor Day weekend."

The two-day show, September 2-3, will be a combination NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour event. It will be the first event run at night under the lights at Martinsville Speedway. Practice and time trials are scheduled for Friday, September 2, while a 50-lap last-chance race and the 250-lap feature will be run on Saturday, September 3.

The goal of Tuesday's test session was to help Hoosier Tire, which supplies tires for the Modified Tour, make sure they brought back the best possible tire for the race in September.

"The (Hoosier) wanted us to come down and do the test so we'd have a good tire for the race and obviously we wanted to help out," said Christopher, who is from Plainville, CT, but drives for Hillbilly Racing, based in Westfield, NC. "We need a good tire for everybody and it seems to work pretty durned good for us. I'm happy with it."

Late in the day, after Miller had posted the 18.80-second lap, Christopher went out for one last hot run, hoping to head back home with the best lap of the day. He was just a tick off, though.

"We would have like to have gone better that last run," said Christopher. "The tail end just locked down in the corners, though, and it just didn't want to turn."

Tickets for the Labor Day weekend Modified event are on sale and may be purchased by calling Martinsville Speedway at 877.RACE.TIX or visiting Martinsville Speedway's website, www.martinsvillespeedway.com

-ms-

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Ryan Newman , Junior Miller , Greg Sacks