With all that's new about NASCAR's Gen-6 car, there will still be one large component of this weekend's Sprint Cup race that will still have a classic feel - the track itself. At 66 years old, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway is the oldest track on the NASCAR circuit and its old-school feel makes it a favorite of driver David Ragan.
Ragan takes his No. 34 Front Row Motorsports team to the .526-mile paperclip-shaped track for Sunday's STP Gas Booster 500 after consecutive top-25 finishes at Bristol and Fontana. The driver expects to improve on his early-season results with Race 6 at Martinsville, where he has a solid record in his 13 career starts. The driver has one top-10 and one top-15 finish and a best result of eighth (2011).
Comments from Front Row Motorsports team driver David Ragan heading to Martinsville:
"Martinsville is a lot of fun for me. I grew up racing on a small, quarter-mile track with my Legends cars at Atlanta and Charlotte. As a race fan, I think it would be one of the more fun tracks to go and watch a race. You don't think of 43 Sprint Cup cars on a half-mile track as the norm. It's challenging and different, and it's a track where we can run well. Front Row Motorsports has had some good cars there in the past. Martinsville is just a fun track. It's in a small community and it's got an old-school NASCAR feel to it, so I really like that place.
"We can't really take much from Bristol to Martinsville. At Bristol, we got to run 500 laps with some suspension parts that were new this year, with the rear-end housings and some of the specs that we have. So that was good that we could get through a short-track race and we can look at it and learn from it, and we're very happy the way everything turned out. But other than that, there aren't many similarities.
"Martinsville is a track where you've got to take care of your brakes and your equipment for 500 laps. It's a long race, but handling is important. With these Gen-6 cars being a little bit lighter, they certainly will be easier to stop. Any time that you're dealing with something 150 pounds lighter, that's going to be easier on the equipment. But the cars are going to be faster. As we saw at Bristol, at a half-mile racetrack, the weight's very important getting through those corners and accelerating. The cars just speed up faster because of the weight. So I think you'll see some fast laps at Martinsville.
"The brakes have gotten so good now that you can really abuse them for 500 laps, and they're pretty good even at the end of a race. We put in all new Brembo brakes on Sunday morning and they've been pretty good every week, year after year."