Showing posts with label Martinsville. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Martinsville. Show all posts
Jimmie Johnson wins at Martinsville

Not one, not two, not three...alright you get the picture. Jimmie Johnson added to his lengthy Martinsville resume in capturing his ninth grandfather clock at the Goody's Fast Relief 500 on Sunday. "This is the right time to start winning races,” said Johnson, who last won at Martinsville in 2013. "It isn’t going to come easy and we knew that coming into this race and there’s so many challenges at this race track." Now that his ticket is punched to Homestead, "Six-Time" is ready to embrace the challenge of racing for a seventh NASCAR Cup Championship. "I’ve been trying to ignore this conversation about seven, and now I can’t. We’re locked in.”

Carl Edwards championship hopes took a hit

The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas dominated much of the action in Martinsville. The trio of Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch led a combined 227 of the race's 500 laps, and that number climbs to 374 if you include the performance of alliance member Martin Truex Jr. But it wasn't all sunshine and roses for the Short Track Squad. After running in the top-10 most of the afternoon, reigning TOYOTA OWNERS 400 champion Carl Edwards suffered a blown tire that put the No. 19 right into the Turn 1 wall. The wreck sent Edwards and the No.19 behind the wall for 24 laps, resulting in a 36th place finish for the Chase contendor. He'll need to put in some serious work at Texas and Phoenix if he wants to keep his championship hopes alive.

Elliott Sadler has his eyes on a championship.
After a two-week break, the NASCAR XFINITY Series will pick back up this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Two races remain before the series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Virginia's own Elliott Sadler is tied with NASCAR Next alumni Daniel Suarez for the Series lead. Blake Koch and Justin Allgaier round out the top four, but Erik Jones and Ryan Reed are in sitting within two points of Allgaier at P4.

Ready. Set. Chase.

The sun has set on Martinsville, and as the Chase field veers out west for a pair of desert showdowns in Texas and Phoenix a gap has already formed among the eight remaining Chase drivers. A pair of poor showings from the Stewart Haas duo and tire problems for Edwards have all three sitting more than 16 points behind Kyle Busch in P4. But Edwards has three career wins in the Lonestar state, and Harvick can look forward to Phoenix, where the 2014 Champion has won six of the last eight contests. Someone's going to make some noise over the next couple of weeks - be sure to tune in and find out who. 
Gray Gaulding
Gaulding meets with teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr after Virginia529 College Savings 250 qualifying at his hometown track, RIR.

At just 18 years old, Gray Gaulding has already had an impressive career in NASCAR, - and this weekend he's adding to it.

The Virginia native will attempt to make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut this weekend in the Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, the first of three rides he's earned in the final four races of 2016.

"It’s exciting to be making my NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at a track like Martinsville," said Gailding. "We’ve had a really good history here (so it's) honestly unfathomable."

Gaulding enters the Martinsville field in the No. 30 Feed the Children Chevrolet for The Motorsports Group (TMG). He's also set compete at Phoenix International Raceway and in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"We are pleased to sponsor Gray Gaulding, the youngest NASCAR driver in the Martinsville field and a promising and fierce competitor," said the Hon. J.C. Watts, Jr., president and CEO of Feed the Children.

The youngster from Colonial Heights, VA started racing about as soon as anyone could. At just three years old he started his racing career on four-wheelers and dirt bikes, running at dirt tracks around the Commonwealth for seven years before giving stock car racing a shot.

After winning four of the five Bandolero races he ran in his first season, it's safe to say he sunk it.

Gaulding continued to impress through the NASCAR K&N ranks, setting a slew of records in the process. In 2013, Gaulding won the pole for the Blue Ox 100 right here at Richmond, making him the youngest pole-sitter in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East history at 15.

Gray Gaulding at Martinsville
A regular in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Gaulding has a Sprint Cup ride for three of the final four races.

As an alumni of the NASCAR Next program (2013, 2014), NASCAR has recognized Gaulding’s talent at a young age. That promise has bore itself out over the past several seasons, where he's competed regularly in the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series with NTS Motorsports, Red Horse Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Earlier this year Gaulding was signed to Roush-Fenway Racing as part of their driver development program. He's competed in two NASCAR XFINTIY Series races this season, at Bristol Motor Speedway and Richmond, earning a 13th place finish in both races.

This weekend in Martinsville is just another milestone in Gaulding’s notable career. While it'll be far from the last - it could be his most significant to date.
Joey Logano

Although things were much different this time last year for the No. 22, Joey Logano still managed to find himself in a familiar place on Sunday - Talladega Victory Lane. Logano dominated the Round of 12 in 2015, sweeping all three races and establishing himself as the front-runner for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Fast forward 12 months and the No. 22 was battling to simply advance. Logano managed to surge ahead on the Lap 191 restart and pull out an overtime win to repeat as the Hellmann's 500 champion. “I feel good,” he said after the race. “ was going to be tough after what happened in Charlotte, so to be able to recover and win in a clutch moment like this to move us on feels really, really good.”

Joe Gibbs Racing

While their regular season dominance may not have yet shown itself in the Chase, Joe Gibbs Racing's quartet of Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, and Matt Kenseth still found a way to show why they're the team to beat. All four drivers have advanced to the next round of the Chase, without a single Chase win between them, thanks to some cautious race tactics at Talladega. “It’s a playoff and you’ve got to say what is smart and so you certainly don’t want to make a big mistakes of some kind and cost your sponsor and everybody that’s wrapped into this,” said team owner Joe Gibbs about the team's defensive strategy.

XFINITY Series Changes

Early today, NASCAR announced rules that will limit how many XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series races full-time Sprint Cup drivers can race in 2017. Drivers with more than five years of full-time Cup experience will be limited to maximum of 10 XFINITY and seven Camping World Truck Series contests beginning in 2017. Additionally, those drivers will also be held from competing in both Series' finales at Homestead-Miami Speedway and any XFINITY Dash for Cash races. “The updated guidelines will elevate the stature of our future stars, while also providing them the opportunity to compete against the best in professional motorsports,” said NASCAR Senior VP of Racing Operations Jim Cassidy.


NASCAR Returns to the Commonwealth
The eight drivers who survived Talladega with championship dreams intact now turn their attention to Martinsville and the only short track in the Chase. Could this be where one of the JGR Toyotas, who've led 1,545 of the 3,307 laps raced on short tracks this year, captures its first playoff win? Hometown Hamlin was the last one to visit Victory Lane, winning the regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway, and has five wins at the half-mile track. Teammate Kyle Busch also won at Martinsville in April, but it's Hendrick's Jimmie Johnson who has seen the most success in Southwest Virginia (eight wins, 23 top-10's in 29 races).

Macy Causey
Macy Causey's work on the track is turning heads at just 15 years old (Photo: Brian Cleary)
It's been a whirlwind week for Yorktown's own Macy Causey.

After a fast weekend in Martinsville where she became the youngest female to qualify for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300’s main field, the 15-year-old Causey jetted down to New Smyrna for the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine, a three-day showcase featuring some of the country's best and brightest drivers.

"The combine was great. I thought I did very well and know I had one of the fastest times of the day," said Causey. "My confidence level on being invited into the program this year is very high - I think I impressed a lot of people with not only my ability on the track but off the track during my three days there."

Causey was one of just 22 drivers from across the country invited to compete for a spot in Rev Racing's NASCAR Drive for Diversity Development program, which is renowned for providing talented young drivers with equipment, mentorship and opportunity.

Her invitation to the 2017 combine marks the second time she's been involved in the program. When the Yorktown native was invited last fall, she was the youngest participant in NASCAR Drive for Diversity history at 14 years old.

Macy Causey
Macy Causey takes in some advice at the NASCAR Drive for Diversity combine. (Brian Cleary)
"It meant a lot to just be invited to the combine," said Causey. "At least 200 people apply and only around 20 are invited so it's really the opportunity of a lifetime. Last year really gave me another opportunity to build my confidence and I've done just that."

Causey competes regularly in the NWAAS Late Model Series - and although she calls Langley Speedway her home track, she's seen success racing in South Boston and the newly minted Dominion Raceway this season. She believes her performance and improvements have her ready to take the next step in her career, but knows the program would take it to new heights.

"It would mean a lot (to be accepted)," said Causey. "I've worked hard these past few years in the late model cars, learning as much as I can. The opportunity to learn from (Rev Racing's) knowledge and take in what they have to offer - I think that's what will help me the most."

While acceptance into the program would be an honor - breaking down barriers is in the Causey bloodline. Her grandmother, Diane Teel, was the first female driver to compete in the XFINITY Series nearly 40 years ago. Teel has been integral for Causey's development as a driver, and she feels fortunate to have had tremendous support from her family.

"My grandmother was the first woman to win a NASCAR race at Langley Speedway. Even though times and cars have changed, I still take her advice and look up to her." said Causey. "I'm really proud to carry the family tradition - I love racing and I think it's something I'll do for the rest of my life."

The NASCAR Drive for Diversity program has helped produce some of the sport's budding stars, like 2016 Sprint Cup Chase competitor Kyle Larson as well as NASCAR XFINITY Series phenoms Daniel Suarez and Darrell Wallace Jr. It's run by Rev Racing, which is headquartered in Concord, North Carolina.
As we've shown in our Commonwealth Corner series, Virginia's racing roots run deep. Those roots will be on full display during the Month of April with NASCAR rolling through Martinsville and Richmond. "I’m really excited to race at Richmond International Raceway this year, not only because it’s the only Virginia track on the XFINITY circuit but also because (we)always performs well there. Winning in my home state would make me so proud," said Halifax-native Jeb Burton. We're excited too Jeb, we're excited too.

Short Track swing

Three of the next four Sprint Cup races will take place on short tracks, kicking off this weekend with the STP 500 in Martinsville. The series moves on to Bristol in two weeks before culminating in Richmond for the TOYOTA OWNERS 400 on Sunday, April 24. "A lot of us grew up on short tracks and Martinsville is where I’ve raced a lot whether it be with the Truck Series or even the XFINITY Series, in which we were fortunate to win the one race we got to run there," said Sprint Cup Series points leader Kevin Harvick.
Logano and Kenseth

It's November 2105. Joey Logano is in the midst of a three-race win streak and looks like the odds-on favorite for the 2015 Sprint Cup Championship. Just 50 laps away from making it four in a row, Matt Kenseth, who is nine laps down, puts Logano into Turn 1 and causes the driver of the No. 22 Penske Ford to finish 37th- effectively ending his Championship bid. Six months later, the two return to where it all went down. Expect all eyes to be on these two as they try for their first grandfather clock this weekend.

Joey Logano qualifies on the pole

Three In A Row
Speaking of Logano, he dominated all three rounds of qualifying. Topping the final round at a speed of 97.043 mph, Logano earned his third straight pole at Martinsville, the first driver to do so since Jeff Gordon accomplished that same feat from 2003-2004. Kasey Kahne will start alongside Logano on the front row.
Baynes Backup

Just seconds before the first Sprint Cup practice wrapped up, Trevor Bayne lost control of his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford heading down the backstretch into Turn 3.  "In qualifying trim I thought our car drove good, it handled good, but I was really lagging in the braking zones," Bayne said. "We were giving up two to three-tenths into both corners and I tried to just push the braking zone a little bit more and it started wheel-hopping really bad.  There was nothing I could do about it.  Once it started bouncing I tried to save it and once it got backwards stood in the gas and it just backed in." Bayne qualified 32nd in his back-up car.