MARTINSVILLE, VA. (March 5, 2002) -- It was a strange gathering in the garage area at Martinsville Speedway Tuesday: a Winston Cup team owner driving a Busch Grand National car, hoping to gain enough seat time to help him make the Advance Auto...
MARTINSVILLE, VA. (March 5, 2002) -- It was a strange gathering in the garage area at Martinsville Speedway Tuesday: a Winston Cup team owner driving a Busch Grand National car, hoping to gain enough seat time to help him make the Advance Auto Parts 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck race on April 13.
Even though it sounds like a complicated situation, it wasn't quite that bad.
Andy Petree, owner of the Schneider Electric Chevrolet driven by Bobby Hamilton and the unsponsored Chevrolet driven by Mike Wallace on the Winston Cup tour, came into the sport as a driver. And he still likes to dabble occasionally.
He has an opportunity to drive a truck in the Advance Auto Parts 250, but he felt like he needed some practice laps on Martinsville's tight .526-mile oval. But in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, private test sessions are not allowed. That's why Petree showed up with a Busch car.
"We got a Busch car to come here and make some laps and get a feel for the race track," said Petree, who ran a handful of Busch Grand National races at Martinsville in the early 1990s. "It (the Busch car) has a somewhat similar configuration as the truck deal. It has the same motor, the same carburetor, so we're just getting a little seat time and seeinf what's going on."
Petree had a little help in the pits with him Tuesday. Robert Pressley, who won the season-opening NASCAR Craftsman Truck race at Daytona International Speedway last month, was sort of a track tutor for Petree. Pressley's truck owner is Winston Cup driver Bobby Hamilton, who happens to be fielding Petree's entry in the Advance Auto Parts 250.
"I've got Robert helping me. He gets in and runs some laps and then I run a few laps and we try to compare how we run against each other," said Petree.
It has not been a great season so far for Petree the Winston Cup team owner. In fact, the last year has been tough for him. Oakwood Homes left Petree's No. 33 entry after last season and he has been unable to find backing for the car so far this season. Wallace raced the car at Daytona and North Carolina Speedway, but Petree didn't take the car to Las Vegas last weekend.
"We out there looking for something for the 33 and I can't really take it to the race track until we get something on it," said Petree. "We have a full team and cars setting in the shop ready to go. As soon as we get a sponsor, we'll be rolling."
Petree admits it has been a frustrating 12 months or so. But days like Tuesday help out a great deal.
"This gives me a break from all the stresses we've been going through," said Petree. "It's like going out and playing golf or something. But this sport has been good to me and this is just a little bump in the road. We'll get through it."
Action kicks off at Martinsville Speedway on Friday, April 12 with MW Windows Pole Day. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors will time trial for the Advance Auto Parts 250 at 1:30 p.m. while qualifying for the Virginia 500 is set for 3 p.m. Tickets for qualifying are $15 for adults and children under 12 get in free.
The Craftsman Truck Series racing action begins at 2 p.m. on April 13 when the green flag waves on the Advance Auto Parts 250. Tickets for the Advance Auto Parts 250 Craftsman Truck race are $30 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12. All seats are unreserved.
There still are great seats available for the Virginia 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race for $40-$70 each. To purchase tickets call the speedway ticket office toll free at 877-722-3849 or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.