Martinsville Ford Racing Preview

Goody's Body Pain 500 Advance April 12, 1999 Martinsville Speedway The short-track season continues on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series as Martinsville Speedway prepares to host the Goody's...

Goody's Body Pain 500 Advance April 12, 1999 Martinsville Speedway

The short-track season continues on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series as Martinsville Speedway prepares to host the Goody's Body Pain 500 this weekend. After going 500 laps on the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway, Ford drivers will now prepare for the exact opposite, a flat half-mile oval in which the backstretch pits have been eliminated. Martinsville Speedway means more to Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 21 Citgo Taurus, than most of the other Winston Cup drivers. As a native of nearby South Boston, Va., Sadler grew up watching many of his relatives race there. He spoke about what Martinsville means to him and his expectations for the weekend.

ELLIOTT SADLER -21- Citgo Taurus -- YOU TESTED TWICE AT MARTINSVILLE. ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH THAT TRACK NOW? "I feel real comfortable going into that race. I tell you, Martinsville has always been very special to me, right there at home in Virginia. I've been going there since I was a little kid watching my uncle race, my brother race. My dad's race cars raced there for a very long time and I've watched a lot of good superstars born on that race track in the old modified division and stuff like that, so going back there is special to me. That's why we tested there twice, plus it's close to Stuart (Va.) and the whole Wood Brothers organization, so we want to do well for everyone involved. The field is so tight there at Martinsville just like all of these short tracks, so we wanted to make sure we had no questions when we went back. We wanted to make sure we laid everything on the table, and I think we'll have us a great race car when we unload there next Friday."

AS A YOUNGSTER GROWING UP IN SOUTH BOSTON, VA., WAS MARTINSVILLE VIEWED AS SOME SORT OF HALLOWED GROUND FOR YOU? "Yeah, there and Richmond because they were tracks in Virginia and were places where you would say, 'This is where the big boys race.' I used to run there in Late Models and dreamed of one day running Winston Cup one day just to see how it is in a Winston Cup car for 500 laps. Yes, I've been looking forward to that race since we did this deal at the beginning of the year because when I got in the Late Model cars, we were gonna run a Busch car there and I was looking forward to that, but then they cancelled the Busch Series there so I had to wait a little longer to go back in a Winston Cup car. It's a place growing up that you always looked forward to running. It's always been a great place to run with my Late Models because there would be 130 cars there and it was always a big deal going to Martinsville. This time it's no different. It's a big deal that we're going to Martinsville, Virginia. I'm gonna feel right at home and very comfortable in front of a lot of Virginia fans and, hopefully, we can give everybody a good showing there."

YOU WON A RACE AT MARTINSVILLE AND THEN HAD IT TAKEN AWAY. WHAT HAPPENED? "My dad has been trying to win the Winston Classic 300 for 25 years at Martinsville. They've been running it since the mid-1960s, they have one in the spring and one in the fall and that's where they have 120-130 cars there. We qualified 34th there in the fall of '95 and won the race. In the post-race inspection, though, they found out that they guy who did our motor had illegal heads in it. They were angled maybe something like 1/64th or something like that. Nevertheless, we had a win taken away from us there and, man, I think that was the happiest and saddest day of my life to this point. To finally win that race and get my dad something he'd been working for for 25 years, and then turn around and have to give it back hurt. We had one of those beautiful Martinsville clocks all ready to go, but. "Not that Martinsville maybe owes me one, but I feel like I want to go there and do well and show everybody that hey, maybe we did deserve that race or a couple others we ran great in. I just want to have a good showing with the Cup car there next week."

DURING YOUR TESTS YOU NO DOUBT HAD A CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE THE NEW PIT ROAD SITUATION. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THAT? "That is gonna be crowded. We need a real good qualifying run to just get up ahead of some of the things that are gonna happen. I think it's a good idea to have everybody on one pit road because that way you don't have the front and the back stretch because that always plays a big role in any race you're in. I think Martinsville did a great job on that, but it's gonna really be tough and really be narrow running there. We want to try and get a really good lap in and try to get ahead of some of the stuff we think is gonna happen."

LEONARD WOOD -21- Citgo Taurus -- WHAT DOES MARTINSVILLE MEAN TO THE WOOD BROTHERS SINCE YOU'RE BASED IN NEARBY STUART? "You always want to win in your hometown, but sometimes it seems you run better at other places than you do at home. It would mean a whole lot for us to win there."

WHAT KIND OF MEMORIES DO YOU HAVE OF MARTINSVILLE? "Glen (Leonard's brother Glen Wood) used to run there years ago and we thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think (David) Pearson won there once. We've had some pretty good runs over there, but we never did run the short tracks as much in the earlier days because we didn't have a short track car, so to speak. I'm looking forward to Elliott doing well over there. He and Mike Beam and Eddie and Len have been doing a lot of testing over there and it looks pretty good, so, hopefully they can come home and do well."

WITH SOME OF THE LEGENDARY DRIVERS WHO HAVE DRIVEN FOR THE WOOD BROTHERS, HOW IS IT TO HAVE A ROOKIE BEHIND THE WHEEL NOW? "He's a rookie, but still he's got great talent. You could see that before we hired him with the way he performed in the Busch Series. It's basically just getting to know what he wants and if that matches with what you want and getting it all worked out. As far as the talent he has to drive the car, I think when they get the car right you'll see him do well."

EDDIE WOOD, Co-Owner -21- Citgo Taurus -- DOES MARTINSVILLE MEAN SOMETHING EXTRA SPECIAL FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM? "Yeah, it's special for us but for the last five years or so we haven't run very well there. As a result, we tested twice there and we've got a different kind of car than we've ever had. We're also using Mike's (Beam) setup and he's usually run pretty good over there. Elliott won a Late Model race over there a few years back, so if we get in the show and don't have any problems there, I think we'll be just fine."

IS THERE MORE PRESSURE RACING IN FRONT OF THE HOME FANS? "It's no different. It's just another race, it just happens to be close by. We'd like to do well there because a lot of people we know will go to that race only. People around where we live, they won't go to Charlotte or Rockingham or Darlington, they'll go to Martinsville so we'd just like to do good for them."

DO YOU HAVE ANY MARTINSVILLE MEMORIES THAT STAND OUT FOR YOU? "I guess the last race we ran really well over there was with Morgan Shepherd in the early nineties. I remember my dad (Glen) racing there in his modified days, but Martinsville is still Martinsville. They've put a new pit wall up, they've got new stands and suites, but it's still Martinsville. It hasn't changed."

Martinsville Speedway was good to Ted Musgrave, driver of the No. 75 Remington Arms Taurus, during last year's spring race. While driving for Roush Racing, Musgrave managed a second-place finish for the fourth time in his NASCAR Winston Cup career. Musgrave is coming off his best effort for car owner Butch Mock after finishing seventh last weekend at Bristol.

TED MUSGRAVE -75- Remington Arms Taurus -- I GUESS YOU GO FROM ONE SHORT TRACK EXTREME TO THE OTHER IN BRISTOL AND MARTINSVILLE, RIGHT? "I'm not sure if the season was like that last year. There are a lot of tempers that flair here at Bristol because it's a short track and there's a lot of banging. I hate to see it carry on back over to Martinsville because you know all that's gonna do is put a little more fuel on the fire. No, what a minute now, maybe that's better because if that happened at Talladega we're all involved, so maybe this is a good thing."

YOU FINISHED SECOND IN THIS RACE LAST YEAR. WHAT DO YOU RECALL ABOUT THAT? "Yeah, a day late and a dollar short again -- second again. It was a real good day. To tell you the truth, I really was gonna probably run third because the 43 car ran out of gas with six or eight laps to go and that helped me inherit my second-place finish. But the car was real good, I do remember that. Hopefully, we'll carry those notes over for this year and try to work on it from there and improve one more position. Martinsville has kind of been a hit or a miss for me, mostly a hit usually, but it's a lot like Bristol with qualifying and race setup with everybody running so close together on times. It's real tough, but there's a little more forgiveness at Martinsville. You can pass a guy more easily at Martinsville than you can at Bristol."

WHAT ABOUT THE PIT ROAD ADJUSTMENT? "From what I hear, I have not seen it and we haven't tested Martinsville, but what I do hear from people with the pits the way they are it resembles a lot like the Wilkesboro pits where they come in off the backstretch and start pitting right through the corner. Hopefully, we'll be good enough where we won't have to be in that area, but I don't know what it's gonna do. It sure won't affect the racing. The race track is still the same. The only thing it will do is it might jumble up some things like green flag pit stops, especially green flag pit stops. If you've gotta come on pit road at a certain mile and hour and now you have twice the distance than you did previously, instead of going maybe two laps down to make a tire change under green, you may be three to four laps down making green flag stops. So that is gonna be the big thing right there. If a guy gets out there and does pit under green and the caution comes out, that guy is done of the day more or less. His whole race is thrown away, so that's something to watch out for."

ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH THE CAR YOU'LL BE TAKING? "Yeah. We have not tested the car yet. We just built it and it hasn't seen the track yet, but we had the same situation at Bristol. We put it together and it had never been on the race track, but we qualified 13th and it ran real good. Hopefully, that will be the same scenario at Martinsville. I feel pretty confident because I think we're getting things straightened out. We're getting a lot of cars built and putting things behind us, so we're just looking ahead and not behind."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ted Musgrave , Morgan Shepherd , Elliott Sadler