This Week in Ford Racing April 13, 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Some like it and some don't, but come Sunday the 43 drivers competing at Martinsville Speedway in the Advance Auto Parts 500 will all have two things in mind - surviving the...
This Week in Ford Racing
April 13, 2004
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
Some like it and some don't, but come Sunday the 43 drivers competing at Martinsville Speedway in the Advance Auto Parts 500 will all have two things in mind - surviving the half-mile short-track and posting a good finish. Ford drivers Mark Martin, Elliott Sadler and Ricky Rudd all have differing views about Martinsville, which they shared recently.
MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra Taurus:
"Martinsville is a track I don't like very much, but I've won twice there. Everybody tells me I run good there, but I think we run terrible there. It's kind of confusing to me because every time I say something to someone about how I don't run good there, they contradict that. I guess it's always been a real challenge for us. Even though we've won twice there and had a number of good finishes, it feels really difficult."
THAT TRACK HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS TWO LONG DRAG STRIPS WITH CORNERS. IS THERE A RHYTHM YOU HAVE TO GET INTO QUICKLY THERE? "I see it as just being difficult. I see those long straightaways as, 'Oh Lord, we've got to get slowed up for this corner again.' The corners are really sharp and the concrete is really difficult to run on and it's rough and it doesn't give you much grip. There's no way you can get up on the wheel and overdrive the car and get some extra speed like you can at a lot of other places."
ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus:
"Martinsville probably isn't my most favorite track that we race on the schedule, but it's close to home and I have a lot of friends and family that come there to cheer us on. I did get a fifth-place finish there the first race last year, I don't know how. The guys at Robert Yates Racing gave me a great race car there and we're taking the same one back, so, hopefully, we'll have close to the same results. It's like a pair of shoes. At some tracks you go to you fit right in them and they feel comfortable and everything is good - you know what you want. But some tracks you still struggle with a little bit and you don't really know the feel that you need to have to be competitive there each and every lap. Martinsville is still a place that I'm trying to do my homework on and learn the most I can."
RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus:
"I like Martinsville, I always have. It's changed a little over the years. They ground the surface of the bottom groove and that's changed it a little bit, but, to me, there's not a whole lot of difference over the years. It's probably changed the least of any of the tracks we go to. For years having great brakes would win you the race, but that's not really the case anymore. Everybody's brake systems are pretty foolproof now and it's really about how much traction you can get up off the corner and how much of that horsepower you can use when you stand in the gas. The guy who can stand in it the hardest is usually the guy that goes to the front."
HOW DOES 500 LAPS AT MARTINSVILLE COMPARE TO 500 LAPS AT BRISTOL? "You've got so many cars in the same spot and you've got a lot of cars that are running virtually the same speed, so the frustration level is a little bit higher than it used to be. There used to be bigger speed differences and you don't see the big speed variation like you used to see. Everybody is running the same speed within about a tenth-of-a-second of each other, so everybody is in each other's way. One thing that has helped calm that down a little bit is that by grinding that bottom groove, it's evened up the inside and outside groove down in turns one and two, so it's kind of opened up some passing there."