SMT: Martinsville preview

HISTORY AND PRESTIGE DEFINE NASCAR WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR'S MADE IN AMERICA WHELEN 300 AT MARTINSVILLE DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 7, 2006) -- There is a certain mystique about Martinsville (Va.) Speedway that makes NASCAR Modified races there so ...


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 7, 2006) -- There is a certain mystique about Martinsville (Va.) Speedway that makes NASCAR Modified races there so special.

It's more than sharing the track where the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competes a few weeks later, in the Subway 500. It's more than racing at a historic venue that honors its short track heritage, by hosting the prestigious Bailey's 300 for Late Model Stock Cars in early October.

Martinsville, one might say, was made for Modifieds.

It began in 1947, the same year that NASCAR itself was founded in Daytona Beach, Fla. On Sept. 7, Martinsville Speedway opened as a dirt track and Red Byron won the first 50-lap feature for Modified Stock Cars.

Modified racing continued to thrive at Martinsville throughout the next four decades, with notable drivers such as Ray Hendrick, Bobby and Donny Allison, Carl "Bugs" Stevens, Fred DeSarro, Richie Evans and Jerry Cook collecting victories. One of Evans' victories, in 1981, is part of Martinsville legend -- he won the race while skidding up the front stretch wall and catch fence, losing a wheel in the process but keeping enough momentum to finish ahead of Geoffrey Bodine for the win.

In 1985 came the advent of the present-day NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, with a formalized series of championship points races across the East Coast. Martinsville held the second race in Whelen Modified Tour history, on April 6, 1985. New York's Charlie Jarzombek won that race ahead of Mike McLaughlin, Jimmy Spencer and Brett Bodine.

These and many other memories form a long-standing tradition of NASCAR Modified racing at Martinsville, which makes each visit special. Last season, the Whelen Modified Tour began two new traditions: competing in the first night race at Martinsville and welcoming the drivers of the newly-formed Whelen Southern Modified Tour in a special combination race format.

Both of these new traditions continue as the Whelen Modified Tour and Whelen Southern Modified Tour return to Martinsville for the second running of the Made in America Whelen 300, under the lights, on Sept. 1-2.

On Fri., Sept. 1, Bud Pole time trials will be held to determine the first 20 starting positions in the race. There are 300 laps of racing scheduled for Sat., Sept. 2. The Chatlee Boats & Sporting Goods 50-lap "last chance" qualifying race is scheduled to begin at approx. 7 p.m. and will give 15 drivers a final chance to transfer into the 250-lap feature event, which begins at approx. 8:30.

In addition to being one of the most prestigious and competitive events on Tour, it's also one of the richest. More than $127,000 is up for grabs in the Made in America Whelen 300, including a $7,000 share to the race winner.


* Race winners ... The Made in America Whelen 300 will be the Whelen Modified Tour's 31st appearance at Martinsville Speedway. There were 14 different winners in the previous 30 races. Four drivers -- Mike Ewanitsko, Jeff Fuller, Reggie Ruggiero and Mike Stefanik -- have four wins apiece while Charlie Jarzombek recorded three Whelen Modified Tour wins at Martinsville. Other previous Whelen Modified Tour winners at Martinsville are Tom Baldwin (two wins in 1988), Brett Bodine (two wins in 1986), John Bryant (1985), Tony Hirschman (1990), George Kent (1987), Mike McLaughlin (1988), L.W. Miller (2002), Satch Worley (1992) and Ted Christopher (2005).

* Among the four-time Modified winners at Martinsville, Ruggiero can claim the longevity award. His first Martinsville win came in 1987 and he recorded his fourth in 2000. Stefanik scored his four wins during a three-year span from 1989-92.

* Track record ... Greg Sacks, a New York native and veteran of over 260 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races, holds the Modified track qualifying record at Martinsville, at 18.746 seconds (101.014), set in 1986.

* Christopher Conquers ... Ted Christopher, the defending winner of the Made in America Whelen 300, is expected to make his 225th Whelen Modified Tour start at Martinsville. Through Aug. 5, Christopher has 25 career victories. Christopher, of Plainville, Conn., also won the inaugural Whelen Southern Modified Tour race on March 26, 2006 at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C.

* Did you know? ... Martinsville Speedway's first NASCAR-sanctioned race was a Modified event held in 1948. Fonty Flock won the race, while Pee Wee Martin, of nearby Bassett, Va., finished second and Buck Baker was third. NASCAR founder Bill France competed in the race and finished eighth. (Note: For more historical facts about NASCAR Modified racing at Martinsville, visit

* Southern Stars ... While last year's Made in America Whelen 300 was the first combination race to include the Whelen Southern Modified Tour, many drivers from Southern states raced with the Whelen Modified Tour when it came to Martinsville over the past 21 years. The last southerner to win a Modified race at Martinsville was Virginia's Satch Worley in 1992. Brian Loftin, of Lexington, N.C., finished 12th overall in last year's Made in America Whelen 300 and was the highest-finishing Whelen Southern Modified Tour driver.

Fast Facts

What: Made in America Whelen 300, a combination race featuring the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.

Where: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway

When: Friday, Sept. 1 & Saturday, Sept. 2

Posted awards: $127,953

Race length: 250 laps, 131.5 miles
Track layout: 0.526-mile oval.

2005 Race Winner: Ted Christopher, Plainville, Conn.
2005 Bud Pole Winner: Chuck Hossfeld, Ransomville, N.Y.

Pre-Race Schedule (All Times Local): Friday, Sept. 1 -- Registration and Inspections begin 2 p.m., Practice 5-6:30 p.m., Time trials 8:30 p.m. (fastest 20 cars will earn starting positions 1-20.); Saturday, Sept. 2 -- Garage opens 2 p.m., Chatlee Boats & Sporting Goods 50-lap qualifying race (top 15 finishers advance to starting positions 29-43).

-credit: nascar

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Drivers Brett Bodine , Geoffrey Bodine , Jeff Fuller , Jimmy Spencer , Mike McLaughlin , Chuck Hossfeld , L.W. Miller , Greg Sacks , Ted Christopher