Martinsville: Toyota preview

THIS RACE: The Kroger 250 will be the 13th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at Martinsville Speedway. There will be 10 Toyota Tundras in the field. LAST RACE: In the most recent NCTS race at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Marchh 18), Chad ...

THIS RACE: The Kroger 250 will be the 13th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at Martinsville Speedway. There will be 10 Toyota Tundras in the field.

LAST RACE: In the most recent NCTS race at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Marchh 18), Chad Chaffin and Robert Huffman were the first Tundra drivers to cross the finish line. Chaffin, started 13t and led 11 laps en route to a seventh-place finish in the No. t30 Germain/Arnold Racing Tundra. Huffman, driver of the No.12 Darrell Waltrip Motorsports Tundra, started 15 h and finished 10th. Mike Skinner, driver of the No.5 Bill Davis Racing Tundra, qualified third at Atlanta and led the field for 29 laps (9-37) before being forced to pit after contact with the wall.

POINTS PACE: After the first three races of the 2005 season, four Toyota drivers are among the top-15 in the NCTS championship point standings. Johnny Benson is eighth in the standingsh with 401 points, 119 points behind leader Bobby Hamilton. Tundra drivers behind Benson in the standings are 10t -place Robert Huffman (378 points), 13th-place Todd Bodine (357 points), and 15th-place David Reutimann (347 points).

LAST YEAR AT MARTINSVILLE: A year ago, in the Spring NCTS race at Martinsville Speedway (April 17), Toyota driver Mike Skinner led 38 laps and crossed the finish line fifth -- the top finisher among eight Tundra drivers. David Reutimann (8th) was the only other Toyota driver to record a top-10 finish.

RETURN OF D.W.: Darrell Waltrip will put on his driver's suit one more time as he returns to the seat of the No.11 Toyota Tundra for the NCTS race at Martinsville. Last year, Waltrip started the Spring race at Martinsville (24th) and also competed at Indianapolis Raceway Park (28th). During his NCTS career, Waltrip has made six starts at Martinsville, with his best results being a fifth-place (1996) and a pair of sevenths (2003).

WHAT D.W. LIKES: "When I go to the truck races, I go there with the same intensity, desire and commitment that I've always had," explains Waltrip. "I go to have fun, too. The things I enjoy are being at the track, having my own car or my own truck team, and having my guys to hang out with and just talk racing."

TEN TUNDRAS TEST: All 10 Toyota NCTS drivers tested their Tundras at Martinsville late last month. Johnny Benson, Todd Bodine, Chad Chaffin, Shige Hattori, Robert Huffman, Bill Lester, David Reutimann, Mike Skinner, Darrell Waltrip and Brandon Whitt participated in the March 24 test.

MARTINSVILLE TEST TALK: "The Martinsville test was great and one of the best days I've had at the race track in a long time," says Darrell Waltrip. "I was the fastest truck there according to our watch. We all had electronic timing and scoring -- what we set up with the Pi System. I ran a 19.99-second lap and I think Mike Skinner was next quickest with a 20.10. We made long runs -- including two 50-lap runs -- and my Tundra stayed really consistent and good. We were very pleased the truck."

MIKE HAS ONE: Mike Skinner has one NCTS victory at Martinsville, winning the 1996 race at the track.

CHAD HAD ONE: In his first NCTS start at Martinsville, Chad Chaffin had a memorable race day. "The first time I raced a truck at Martinsville was in 2003," says Chaffin, driver of the No.30 Germain/Arnold Racing Tundra. "I actually thought we were going to win the race. We led a lot of laps and had a pretty dominant truck most of the day, before Dennis Setzer passed me for the lead. We were running second with a few laps to go -- and I thought second-place finish was `in the bag' -- when we ran out of fuel." Chaffin, who led 80 laps in the race, eventually crossed the finish line 26th.

FIRST IMPRESSION: "I was intimidated coming here the first time for the Craftsman Truck Series because I had always seen people burning their brakes off at Martinsville when I would watch the races on TV," explains Chad Chaffin. "I had raced on a lot of short tracks, but nothing like Martinsville. It takes a lot of discipline to run Martinsville because you can't spin the tires coming off the corner and you can't overuse the brakes going into the corner. The problem I have is sometimes I'm not the most disciplined driver."

TODD TALKS MARTINSVILLE: "It will definitely be different running at Martinsville than at the speedways we've raced on the first few weeks," says Todd Bodine, driver of the No.66 Fiddle Back Racing Tundra. "I'm looking forward to racing at Martinsville. I grew up around the track, graduated high school about 45 minutes from the track (Rocky Mount, Va.), and remember watching my brothers (Geoffrey and Brett) race Modifieds at Martinsville. I also won a Cup pole (2001) at the track and have a few top-10s there."

BENSON BEFORE: Johnny Benson, driver of the No.23 Bill Davis Racing Tundra, has 20 NASCAR Cup starts at Martinsville, along with three NCTS starts at Martinsville (1995, 1997 and 2004). "The trucks are fun to race at Martinsville, but it's a track that's brutal on the truck bodies," says Benson. "Martinsville is a place where people seem to think, `Well, we can just run into each other because it's a short track.'"

MARTINSVILLE MAN: One person who has more experience than most drivers at Martinsville won't be in the starting line-up. Jeff Hensley, who has hung up his driver's suit and now serves as crew chief for Mike Skinner's No.5 Bill Davis Racing Tundra, knows Martinsville as well as anyone. Growing up in Ridgeway, Virginia, just six miles from Martinsville Speedway, Hensley spent considerable time at the track and is very familiar with the circuit. He competed in 10 Busch Series races at Martinsville between 1982 and 1985, recording six top-10 finishes.

MARTINSVILLE MEMORY: "The first time I raced at Martinsville was in 1982," says Hensley. "I think it was the first year of the Busch Series. I had run a race at Caraway Speedway and decided to try and make the Martinsville race. There were 50 or 60 cars there and I had to run a qualifying race just to get into the 250-lap feature. I managed to finish second in the heat to make the race. Then we ran the big race -- running against guys like Jack Ingram, Tommy Ellis and Tommy Houston -- and we finished ninth. It was a big deal just to make the race, let alone finish in the top-10."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Darrell Waltrip , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Johnny Benson , Dennis Setzer , Bill Lester , Chad Chaffin , David Reutimann , Brandon Whitt , Robert Huffman
Teams Bill Davis Racing