Martinsville Friday practice report

Martinsville, VA---There were 121 drivers from seven states practicing on Friday at Martinsville Speedway for Sunday's $91,095 Taco Bell 300. Only the fastest 20 cars will nail down starting positions in Saturday's qualifying for...

Martinsville, VA---There were 121 drivers from seven states practicing on Friday at Martinsville Speedway for Sunday's $91,095 Taco Bell 300. Only the fastest 20 cars will nail down starting positions in Saturday's qualifying for the event. The remainder of the 42-car field will be set in four 25-lap qualifying races that kick off the Taco Bell 300 on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. The Taco Bell 300 is NASCAR's richest Late Model Stock race and all 121 drivers are hoping to take home the $15,000 winner's prize. Robert Powell is the defending race champion and was one of the fastest cars to practice. "We put a new motor in before we came up here and we ran real fast all day. We ran fast on a 40-lap run and we were also fast on stickers," said Powell. "If we're not in the top 10, we'll be upset. We're a top two or three car, but there are a lot of fast cars here. "I get around this track pretty good. And I'm more relaxed this year than ever here, and I guess that comes from winning last year," he said. Butch Hamlet, driver of the Taco Bell/Fox 21/27 Chevrolet, was another one of the fastest cars with times as quick as 21.40 seconds, 88.485 miles per hour. Rodney Sawyers won the pole a year ago with a speed of 88.185 miles per hour. "I should be very competitive for the pole. I hate saying that because it will probably jinx me," said Hamlet. "In qualifying, the car is going to have to be fine and the driver is going to have to be fine. I think we'll be OK on both points." NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Atlantic Seaboard Region Champion Nick Woodward said he got better as the day went on. "We weren't too good at the start today, but we were pleased by the end of the day. We fined tuned a couple of things and we picked up three-tenths. We 've got one little change to make tomorrow to help us with the long runs. The more we went out today, the better I felt," he said. David Blankenship, driver of the Clarence's Steak House Chevrolet, said his car was good, but you never know what can happen in the Taco Bell 300. "We feel pretty comfortable with what the car has done all day, but you really don't know for sure until the race starts Sunday," he said. The top Late Model Stock drivers from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia and Maryland will be competing. On the line Saturday will be the Taco Bell 300 qualifying record of 89.876 miles per hour set by Ronnie Thomas of Christiansburg, VA. David Hyder of Trinity, NC holds the track Late Model Stock record of 90.227 miles per hour. Saturday's pole winner will pick up $1,000 from Chatlee Boats. Ten past Martinsville Late Model winners are entered including Powell, Hyder, Blankenship, Billy Hogan, Donnie Apple, Eddie Johnson, Phil Warren, Joe Gaita, Shayne Lockhart and Tony McGuire. Qualifying is 1 p.m. on Saturday and the top five finishers in each qualifying race on Sunday along with two provisionals will make up the starting field for the 200-lap feature race. The race will be stopped at lap 100 with the leader receiving the $5,000 BB&T Award. There will be a ten-minute pit stop and crews may work on the cars and change any two tires. A number, to be determined, of the top cars will be inverted for the restart. At lap 190, the caution flag will be displayed and cars will be lined up single file for ten green flag laps to the finish. All seats are unreserved and are $20 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12 and are available at the speedway.

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Nick Woodward