NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes - Open Week Springtime In Virginia: Dogwoods And Truck Racin' Two sure signs of spring in Virginia are dogwood trees in bloom and the roar of engines at Martinsville Speedway. You're sure to...
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes - Open Week
Springtime In Virginia: Dogwoods And Truck Racin'
Two sure signs of spring in Virginia are dogwood trees in bloom and the roar of engines at Martinsville Speedway.
You're sure to find both on March 26-27 when the .526-mile speedway hosts the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the Kroger 250.
Putting 36 tough trucks on the paperclip-shaped track pretty much guarantees there'll be action aplenty.
"Martinsville is a survival track," said Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Team Gill Racing Dodge), one of just two multiple winners of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Martinsville. "With young drivers and seasoned veterans in the field, I'm sure it will be a survival race."
Setzer cut his teeth on short tracks like Martinsville -- notably at Hickory Motor Speedway near his home in Newton, N.C.
He sees many of the same fans at Martinsville when the trucks line up in March and October since Martinsville is about 100 miles from home.
Setzer says they're sure to get a show and the fans literally are on top of the action.
"You can look right down into the cockpit and see the drivers working the steering wheel," said Setzer, adding that Martinsville's long history with late model and modified racing has made it special.
"To the late model fans, it's a really special place," he said. "It always was our Daytona."
Setzer currently is eighth in the standings, largely on his third-place finish at Daytona. He's optimistic the firstyear team will find resources to keep him in the points race.
Goodyear Testers Say Darlington Promises 'Heckuva Show'
It's probably not too early for fans to start thinking about buying tickets for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' return to historic Darlington Raceway on Aug. 14.
Two drivers who tested Goodyear Wrangler tires there last week -- Aric Almirola (No. 51 Graceway Pharmaceutical Toyota) and Timothy Peters (No. 17 K&N Toyota) -- gave the 1.366-mile South Carolina track their personal approval.
Both can't wait to get back.
"It's going to be exciting for the fans but it's going to be a challenge for us as well," said Peters, who will be making his first appearance at the "Track Too Tough to Tame."
"It's going to be action-packed for sure."
Almirola predicts, "... a heckuva race. The trucks really draft so much so I'm sure we'll be nearly flat-out," he said. "There's not a lot of room to put two trucks side-by-side here anyway so I'm sure sparks are going to fly."
Bodine, Busch, Hornaday Have Stats But No Victories
Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet) has accomplished just about everything at Martinsville Speedway -- except win.
In 15 total starts at the Virginia short track, Hornaday has five top fives and nine top 10s. He has led 231 laps.
In the last six races, he has five top-10 finishes. Even his poor finishes are strong. In the fall Martinsville race in 2008, Hornaday finished 29th. But in the event, he led 154 of the 200 laps, and scored the second-best Driver Rating (123.6) despite running out of fuel near the end.
So the stats suggest he's due.
Since the inception of Loop Data statistics in 2005 -- a span of 10 races at Martinsville -- Hornaday has an Average Driver Rating of 108, an Average Running Position of 8.4, a series-high 170 Fastest Laps Run and a series-high 1,926 Laps in the Top 15 (85.3%).
Todd Bodine (No. 30 Toyota), another former champion still looking for his first Martinsville victory, could find start No. 13 at the track a lucky one.
Bodine finished second to hometown hero Timothy Peters in last October's event. Since 2005, Bodine holds some of the top numbers at Martinsville. In those 10 races, Bodine has a Driver Rating of 93.6, an Average Running Position of 10.8, 43 Fastest Laps Run and 1,707 Laps in the Top 15 (75.6%).
As usual, also watch for Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota), who has encountered uncharacteristic struggles at Martinsville. In six races there, Busch has three top 10s. But he also has three finishes outside the top 15. In his Martinsville career, Busch has a Driver Rating of 103.3 and an Average Running Position of 8.4.
Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet) hopes to bounce back at Martinsville Speedway following a 27th-place finish in Atlanta. Crafton has yet to win at the .526-mile track but posted top-10 finishes in each of the track's most recent four races including a second place to Mike Skinner (No. 5 International Trucks/Monaco RV Toyota) in the 2008 Kroger 250.
Martinsville Speedway has made the Kroger 250 a truly family-friendly event. Children age 12 and under will be admitted free.
Setzer and Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Ford) have competed in the most races (20 of 22) held at Martinsville and share the record for top-five finishes (eight). Setzer leads all drivers with 13 top 10s.
Toyota did not enter competition in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series until 2004. Beginning with the 2006 Kroger 250, a Tundrahas won six of the past eight races.
Up Next: Martinsville
After races on the series' two fastest tracks -- Daytona International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway -- the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to its roots for the March 27 Kroger 250 at .526- mile Martinsville Speedway.
The race is the first of two hosted by the popular Southern Virginia track -- one of just three tracks to have been on the schedule each year since the series began in 1995.
Kevin Harvick (No. 2 Chevrolet), the defending winner, bids for a fourth straight victory in successive starts dating to Phoenix in 2009.
Next Race: Kroger 250
The Place: Martinsville Speedway (.526-mile oval)
The Date: Saturday, March 27
The Time: 2 p.m. ET
Race Distance: 131.5 miles/250 laps
TV: SPEED, 1:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM (Listen locally on WZBB-FM, 99.9.)
2009 Polesitter: Rick Crawford
2009 Winner: Kevin Harvick
Friday -- Practice, 10-11:20 a.m., 1:10-2 p.m. Qualifying, 4:40 p.m.