CONCORD, N.C. – This weekend Roush Fenway Racing (RFR) rookie Sprint Cup driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will make his debut at a track traditionally noted for knocking around rookies and veterans alike; Martinsville Speedway.
“We have won there a few times, but history would definitely show that it has been a challenge,” said RFR team owner Jack Roush, who will take his team to Martinsville for the 26th season this weekend.
“We have some amount of optimism with the new car (Gen 6) that the glass is half full,” added Roush. “I’m optimistic that the things we have learned with our testing and what we had going with Carl (Edwards) at Phoenix (win), will come to bare at Martinsville, but it has not been our best place over the past few seasons.”
While it is the shortest track on the NASCAR circuit, the combination of fast straightaways and flat, narrow, tight corners of the half-mile paper clip-shaped racing oval, have made for exciting racing, as well as long, intense and at times frustrating days for NASCAR competitors for over six decades.
Stenhouse Jr. will become the 14th driver to start a Sprint Cup race at Martinsville for Roush Fenway, with the 13 previous drivers combining for 176 starts, 26 top-five and 62 top-10 finishes and four poles.
RFR has turned over 85,000 laps at Martinsville in Cup action, while tallying four Cup victories at the track. In addition, RFR boasts two more NASCAR wins at Martinsville via the truck series.
While Stenhouse will make his debut at Martinsville this weekend, team owner Jack Roush first took his team to Martinsville in the spring of 1988, qualifying fourth, but finishing 23rd after a mechanical issue. However, Roush Fenway would find the key to success early at Martinsville, going on to post top-10 finishes in seven of its next 10 races at Martinsville, including the team’s first win at the track in the spring of 1992, in the No. 6 Ford with Mark Martin.
Jeff Burton became the second driver to win for Roush Fenway at the track, leading 92 laps in the fall of 1997. Roush Fenway and the duo of Martin and Burton posted a one-two finish at Martinsville in the spring of 2000, and the team placed all four of its Sprint Cup cars inside the top-10 there in the spring of 2002. Kurt Busch won Roush Fenway’s fourth Sprint Cup race at Martinsville the following fall; becoming the third RFR driver to win at the track.
Jon Wood and Ricky Craven tacked on NASCAR truck series wins there in 2002 and 2005, giving RFR a total of six wins at the track, where it has turned over 96,000 laps in NASCAR action.
Carl Edwards captured RFR’s fourth Sprint Cup pole at Martinsville in the fall of 2011, and led 28 laps in route to a ninth-place finish. Roush has led a total of 1,360 laps at Martinsville Speedway, since its 1988 debut there.
This weekend Stenhouse, the two-time defending Champion of the NASCAR Nationwide Series, will turn his first laps at Martinsville and look to become only the third RFR driver to score a top-10 finish in their Martinsville debut for the team.
Sunday’s Sprint Cup race is set for 1:00 p.m. EDT and will be televised live on FOX.