MARTINSVILLE, VA. (March 30, 2001) - Ricky Hendrick would like nothing better than to celebrate his 21st birthday with his first-ever NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory in the Advance Auto Parts 250 at Martinsville Speedway, April 7. The...
MARTINSVILLE, VA. (March 30, 2001) - Ricky Hendrick would like nothing better than to celebrate his 21st birthday with his first-ever NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory in the Advance Auto Parts 250 at Martinsville Speedway, April 7. The son of legendary three-time Winston Cup Champion team owner Rick Hendrick, Hendrick will blow out the candles on his birthday cake April 2. Now the young driver of the No. 17 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet Silverado hopes he can blow away the competition at Martinsville.
"I feel really confident going into this race," Hendrick said. "It's a short, tough, flat track. So was Bakersfield (the last race on the tour), but we finished in the Top-10 there and we feel ready to take on Martinsville. Bakersfield is a half-mile track, but the difference at Martinsville is that there is no banking to keep you on the track. Nothing about Martinsville is easy, but we've put a lot into this race and we're prepared."
To prepare for the Martinsville NCTS clash, Hendrick, crew chef Lance McGrew and Hendrick Motorsports team members Cory Quick and Lisa Smokestad tested a Jerry Nadeau Winston Cup car to paperclip shaped Virginia. Hendrick unofficially posted the sixth-fastest speed of the test.
"The more experience you have going into a race, the better prepared you are." Hendrick stated. "That goes for the team and for me. We've gotten some good experience lately. We tested here with the Cup cars at Martinsville and it was a lot of fun. It also gave me a good understanding for how it will feel to race here with the Craftsman Trucks because Cup cars are very similar to the Trucks.
"Martinsville is a very tight half-mile track and you don't have much time to think, everything happens really fast," Hendrick continued. "I'll rely heavily on experience, instinct and, of course, my spotter."
Hendrick has raced at Martinsville previously, competing in a NASCAR Late Model event in 1998. One of the few rookies to make the field, Hendrick started 18th and finished 11th after a late race wreck led to a shuffle in the standings dropping him out of the Top-10. That additional experience has fueled Hendrick's confidence heading into the Advance Auto Parts 250.
"An actual race is the best experience you can have," Hendrick said. "It's the only true way to get the feel for the track. Most of my experience on short tracks is with go-karts and late models, but the most valuable thing I learned is to hang on tight. There will be a lot of beating and banging in this race, but hopefully patience and a cool head will keep us out of trouble and on this hot streak we have been running."
Hendrick, who leads the race for NCTS Rookie of the Year Honors, knows that to stay on top requires a calm thinking on the track.
"We've done so well this season with a second, fifth and eighth-place finishes it is important to keep the big picture in mind. The season still has 21 races left. We have to be smart because we are also tied for third in the championship points chase. It's going to be a truly awesome year." The green flag will fall on the Advance Auto parts 250 at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, April 7. The race will be telecast live on ESPN.