SEAT SUBS: NASCAR veteran Mark Martin will drive the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 11 FedEx Freight Camry at Martinsville Speedway while Denny Hamlin recovers from an L1 compression fracture suffered during an accident at California’s Auto Club Speedway on March 24. Martin, who also shares the seat of the Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) No. 55 Camry, has 858 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) starts and has compiled 40 wins, 271 top-five finishes, 449 top-10 finishes and 56 pole awards, including the pole at Phoenix last month. Martin has made 48 career NSCS starts at Martinsville and has two wins (1992 and 2000) and three poles. Following Martin’s one-race stint in the No. 11 Camry, fellow Toyota driver and JGR NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) competitor Brian Vickers will be behind the wheel beginning with the April 13 race at Texas Motor Speedway.
TOYOTA TALLY: After the first five races of the 2013 NSCS and NNS season are in the books, Camry drivers have already posted strong numbers in both series. In NSCS competition Toyota drivers Matt Kenseth (Las Vegas) and Kyle Busch (California) have each visited victory lane once. In addition, Busch (Bristol), Hamlin (California) and Martin (Phoenix) have all earned pole positions so far this season. In NNS competition, the story has been about Busch returning to the JGR Nationwide Series program and already accumulating three wins in the first five races — Phoenix, Bristol and California. In addition, Busch has also earned two pole positions — Phoenix and California.
MARTINSVILLE MAGIC: Toyota has had a great deal of success at the half-mile Martinsville Speedway in both the NSCS and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS). In NSCS competition, Camry drivers have totaled four wins at Martinsville — second only to another Virginia track, Richmond International Raceway, for the most NSCS wins by Camry drivers since 2007. All four Cup wins belong to Virginia-native Hamlin (Oct. 2010, March 2010, Oct. 2009 and March 2008). Tundra drivers have earned eight wins at the track since Toyota entered the Truck Series in 2004. Those eight victories at one track are only second to the 10 victories that Tundra drivers have earned at Texas Motor Speedway. Tundra drivers that have visited victory lane at Martinsville include Hamlin (Oct. 2011 and 2012), David Starr (March 2006), Jack Sprague (Oct. 2006), Mike Skinner (March and Oct. 2007), Johnny Benson (Oct. 2008) and Timothy Peters (Oct. 2009). Hamlin’s win made him the 23rd NASCAR driver to have wins in all three of NASCAR’s premier series. Hamlin became a two-time NCWTS winner when he made his way to victory lane last October driving a Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
YOUNGEST MARTINSVILLE TRUCKER: When Erik Jones takes the green flag in Saturday afternoon’s NCWTS race at Martinsville Speedway he will make NASCAR history at the half-mile Virginia oval. The 16-year-old Michigan-native will become the youngest driver to ever start a NCWTS race at the historic race track. Jones will make his first career NCWTS start driving the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) No. 51 Tundra. Jones won the prestigious 45th Annual Snowball Derby Late Model race in December 2012, where he battled his new boss, Busch for the win.
TIMOTHY’S TURF: Tundra driver Peters scored his first career NCWTS victory in October 2009 at Martinsville Speedway. The Danville, Va.-resident led the final 84 laps (of 250) en route to victory lane at his ‘home’ track. Peters, who joined Red Horse Racing midway through the 2009 season, previously ran his own NCWTS operation out of his home 30 miles from Martinsville. At the end of the 2012 season, Peters finished a career best second in the 2012 NCWTS driver point standings — six points behind series champion James Buescher.
DARRELL DEBUT: Rookie driver Darrell Wallace Jr. joined KBM for the 2013 NCWTS season to run his first full season in a NASCAR national touring series. In four NNS starts during the 2012 season, Wallace recorded three top-10 finishes and earned one pole position. The 19-year-old driver also won six races in 36 starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in three seasons (2010-2012). Wallace, who is the only African-American running a full-time schedule in a NASCAR national touring series, pilots the No. 54 KBM Tundra. This weekend will mark Wallace’s first NCWTS start at the historic Martinsville Speedway after starting the 2013 NCWTS season with a 12th-place finish at Daytona.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS):
Following the first five races of 2013, Kyle Busch is sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) point standings, trailing leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 36 points
Denny Hamlin (10th) and Matt Kenseth (11th) also rank in the top-12
Brian Vickers will make his second NSCS start of the 2013 season at Martinsville as he returns to the MWR No. 55 Jet Edge Toyota Camry
Camry drivers have led over 45 percent of the laps in NSCS competition — a total of 670 laps led of 1,483 total circuits — the most of the three manufacturers in the series.
DARIAN GRUBB, crew chief, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How will the team approach the next few races? “Obviously, our primary concern is getting Denny (Hamlin) healed up and back in the FedEx car when he’s ready. We have to thank Mark (Martin) and Brian (Vickers) for filling in these next few weeks, and we believe that we can be just as competitive, run up front and win races. Our team is a strong, tight-knit group, and this will bring us even closer together. The goal is to move the No. 11 car up in the owner’s standings in the next few races, and when Denny returns, do everything in our power to get both him and our team in the Chase.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Do you enjoy racing at Martinsville? “It’s been a tough track for me, but Chad (Johnston, crew chief) keeps reminding me that the last couple times we’ve been here we’ve run in the top-10 and we were fifth last spring. We’ve had good races there. I have a hard time trying to figure out what I need on Saturday for practice to be good on Sunday. The concrete is tough because it changes so much throughout the weekend. I haven’t quite got comfortable with what exactly I need. That’s the hardest thing for me here is getting in that rhythm and backing up my entry. I always tend to drive into the corner too far and heat the brakes up and make the front tires mad. Then the thing won’t turn in the center of the corner. You try to get it to turn in the middle and you can’t get off the corner — you lose that forward bite and you end up burning the rear tires off. That’s the tough balance - - you have to really finesse the car.”
NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS):
After five races in 2013, Parker Kligerman is eighth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) point standings, trailing leader Sam Hornish Jr. by 56 points … Elliott Sadler (ninth) and Alex Bowman (10th) and also rank in the top-10
When Kyle Busch earned the pole position for the NNS race at Auto Club Speedway, it marked the 200th pole for Toyota since entering NASCAR in 2004
Toyota has earned 46 NSCS poles, 68 NNS poles and 86 NCWTS poles
The NNS will return to action at Texas Motor Speedway on April 12.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):
After winning the season-opening race at Daytona, Johnny Sauter leads the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) standings with 47 points Matt Crafton (eighth) and Todd Bodine (10th) also rank in the top-10
As the NCWTS heads to the second race of the season, Tundra drivers have swept the first two races of the year four times in the last seven years
Tundra drivers have won at least three straight races to start the season in each instance — 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011
The NCWTS has been off since the season-opening race at Daytona five weeks ago.
ERIK JONES, No. 51 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Are you looking forward to making your first career start in the Truck Series? “We’re looking forward to the opportunity with Kyle Busch (team owner) and coming to Martinsville, especially since they’ve been so successful at that track in the Truck Series. It’s a great opportunity for me and I think it’s going to be a good race for us. I’m used to running on short tracks, so coming to Martinsville isn’t a big jump for me. Getting used to the truck is going to be the biggest thing and getting as much practice in that day. I think we’re going to have a strong Tundra and definitely looking for a good top-10 finish.”
JOEY COULTER, No. 18 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Is it exciting to drive a KBM Tundra at Martinsville? “I’m really excited to race the No. 18 Toyota Tundra at Martinsville. KBM has a really, really good history at that track – Denny (Hamlin) was super fast in the last race. We’re real excited to get to Martinsville and get going. We’ve kind of had a second off-season since Daytona — it’s been quite a big break, but we’re excited to get back rolling. Martinsville is the best race track to have the second race of the year and second start to the season.”
DARRELL WALLACE JR., No. 54 ToyotaCare Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
What have you been doing during the break since Daytona? “I’ve been doing a lot of racing on Xbox, but I’m not sure if that really counts. It’s tough when you have such a big break. We’re getting our Late Model prepared for our first race at Rockingham and we’ll run Denny Hamlin’s race at Richmond and then Rockingham again in November. A lot of preparation time going into that and then a lot of time spent at the shop with the new team, new year and just trying to get to know everybody a little bit better and move forward.”
TIMOTHY PETERS, No. 17 Toyota Tundra, Red Horse Racing
What do you enjoy the most about racing at Martinsville? “What I like about coming back is that its home for me. The key here is to take care of your equipment, take care of your brakes and as Bobby Hamilton always said, ‘If you keep the fenders on it, then you finish on the lead lap and you’ll have a good finish.”