Editor's Note: This is the second is a series of stories concerning the return of Dodge to Winston Cup racing and Martinsville Speedway MARTINSVILLE, VA. (January 18, 2001) -- Stacy Compton began coming to races at Martinsville Speedway when he...
Editor's Note: This is the second is a series of stories concerning the return of Dodge to Winston Cup racing and Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, VA. (January 18, 2001) -- Stacy Compton began coming to races at Martinsville Speedway when he was just a wee lad, making the hour or so trip from Hurt, Va., to Martinsville with family members. But by the time he started visiting the .526-mile oval, the hey-day of Dodges was finished. In fact, the 33-year-old Compton admits he barely remembers seeing a Dodge on the short track, much less witness one win a race. When Compton returns to Martinsville for the Virginia 500 on April 8, he will be right in the middle of Dodge's Winston Cup homecoming. He'll be behind the wheel of the Melling Racing Kodiak Dodge. "I've had a chance to work with Dodge and I know what they have to offer," said Compton, who drove a Dodge on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for two seasons before moving to Melling's Winston Cup entry last year. "I think this is one of the best things to happen to Melling Racing in a long time. I'm excited for Melling, I'm excited for Kodiak and the opportunity to get them the exposure and I'm excited for me. I think this is what we need as a team." Compton, his Kodiak Dodge team along with most of the other Dodge teams have spent a good part of the fall and winter testing at places like Daytona, Talladega and Homestead, all superspeedways. "I've very pleased with everything. The car feels good, it's handling well, the motors are producing, everything's just smooth so far," Compton said during this week's test session at Daytona International Speedway. "Dodge has done a great job with this program so far, and the guys at Melling Racing have really worked hard to get us this far. I'm looking forward to it." Originally the Dodge teams were supposed to test at Martinsville Speedway last fall, but were forced to postpone the session. Compton said he believes another test session will be scheduled on the difficult short track before the Virginia 500. "Martinsville Speedway is as important as the Daytona 500 as far as points go," said Compton. "We have to make our short-track program as important as anything else. We have to get those tests in. We don't know how the air is going to come into the nose on these new Dodges. We don't know how the air is going to get into the brakes at Martinsville and that's important. We have to get in a test there." And Compton admits, he's a bit selfish when it comes to Martinsville Speedway. His Winston Cup career began on the .526-mile oval when he qualified an under-financed car in the top 10 for the Virginia 500 in 1996. His performance that weekend caught the eye of team owners and he quickly worked his way up through the sport. "That weekend was big for us," said Compton. "We gambled when we came up there for that. It was a make-or-break deal. I put everything I had on the line for that weekend. Luckily it all worked out." Compton is looking forward to bringing his new Kodiak Dodge to Martinsville for the Virginia 500 on April 8. It's the track he calls home. "For some reason we always run good there," said Compton. "It's one of my favorite places to come and that usually helps you run good." The next racing action at Martinsville Speedway is the Virginia 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race on Sunday, April 8. Tickets are $40-$70 and are available by calling toll free at (877) 722-3849 or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.