Friday, Sep 29

RCR Race Preview: Martinsville Speedway

Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway... In 184 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville Speedway, RCR has seven victories, including five by Dale Earnhardt (1985-fall, 1987-spring, 1988-spring, 1991-spring, and 1995-fall). Ricky Rudd won the fall race at Martinsville in 1983, which was RCR’s first Cup Series win on an oval. Kevin Harvick won the 2011 spring race at Martinsville, his first victory at the .526-mile paved speedway. The team owns 31 top-five and 65 top-10 finishes entering Sunday afternoon’s race. 


Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Martinsville Speedway... RCR has one NASCAR Xfinity Series victory at Martinsville Speedway. Kevin Harvick captured the 2006 event in dominating fashion, leading 149 of 250 laps. Clint Bowyer, Harvick’s teammate, finished a close second, crossing the finish line .271 seconds behind. Harvick and Bowyer combined to lead 207 of the event’s 250 laps enroute to a 1-2 finish. In nine NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Martinsville, the Welcome, N.C., based team has one win, one pole, four top-five and five top-10 finishes. 


Did You Know? Team owner and NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Childress first competed at Martinsville Speedway as a driver on April 30, 1972. His best finish came during the 1975 fall race where he claimed a fifth-place finish, one of seven top-10 finishes he racked up in 19 starts at Martinsville.


Catch the Action... The NASCAR Xfinity Series Before You Dig 250 at Martinsville Speedway will be televised live on Saturday, April 15, beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1. The race will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90. 


Follow Sunday’s Action at Martinsville... The NASCAR Cup Series NOCO 400 at Martinsville Speedway will be televised live on Sunday, April 16, beginning at 3 p.m. ET on FS1. The race will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

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Austin Dillon and the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER OFF Road Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Martinsville Speedway… In 18 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville Speedway, Dillon boasts three top-five and three top-10 finishes. He earned his best finish of third in April 2022 at the half-mile short track after starting from the 23rd position. Dillon has made five appearances at Martinsville Speedway in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, earning his best finish of third in October 2011.


About TRACKER OFF Road... Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 prominently features TRACKER ATVs, a game-changing new line of all-terrain vehicles and side-by-sides offering breakthrough performance, service, and value in the off-road industry. TRACKER OFF ROAD was born out of a powerhouse partnership formed between Bass Pro Shops and TRACKER founder Johnny Morris and Textron Specialized Vehicles, bringing together the undisputed world leader in boating with a global leader in innovation and technology.


About Bass Pro Shops... Bass Pro Shops is North America's premier outdoor and conservation company. Founded in 1972 when avid young angler Johnny Morris began selling tackle out of his father's liquor store in Springfield, Missouri, today the company provides customers with unmatched offerings spanning premier destination retail, outdoor equipment manufacturing, world-class resort destinations and more. In 2017 Bass Pro Shops acquired Cabela's to create a "best-of-the-best" experience with superior products, dynamic locations and outstanding customer service. Bass Pro Shops also operates White River Marine Group, offering an unsurpassed collection of industry-leading boat brands, and Big Cedar Lodge, America's Premier Wilderness Resort. Under the visionary conservation leadership of Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops is a national leader in protecting habitat and introducing families to the outdoors and has been named by Forbes as "one of America's Best Employers." Bass Pro Shops has a long relationship with NASCAR, dating back to 1998. For more information, visit


Dillon Takes The Stage… Dillon is scheduled to make an appearance at the NASCAR Experience Stage on the fan midway on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Local Time for a Q&A session with fans.



How do you feel about short tracks like Martinsville Speedway?

“I’m looking forward to Martinsville Speedway. Last year, we finished third in the spring race so hopefully we can take our Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Off Road Chevrolet and advance our position by two spots. The car has changed since last year and now with the new short track downforce rules, my No. 3 team is working hard to make sure we are prepared. I’ve always loved going there, it’s a fun track, and it’s kind of a home track for me since Martinsville Speedway fairly close to RCR’s campus in Welcome, North Carolina. It’s going to be a battle for 400 laps so hopefully we can take advantage of it.”


How do you approach Sunday’s race since it’s 400 laps and not the normal 500 laps?

“The 400 lap race presents a little more attack mode and trying to get into positioning for long green flag runs. We don’t have to conserve brakes as much as you would in a 500 lap race. We just have to go at the start of the race and maximize track position as much as possible. I feel like my No. 3 Bass Pro Shop /TRACKER Off Road Chevrolet will be fast on Sunday and I can’t wait to see how the race plays out.”


How important will qualifying be at Martinsville Speedway?

“The qualifying position is important at every track, but qualifying at Martinsville Speedway is extremely important for track position and pit stall selection. Pit Road is very treacherous there, so hopefully we can get a good starting spot on Sunday. If not, we’re going to have to battle all day and get to the front in any way possible. I know my Richard Childress Racing team is ready for a fight and it all starts on Saturday with qualifying."


Kyle Busch and the No. 8 Mark III Employee Benefits Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Martinsville Speedway… Kyle Busch will be making his 36th start at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. The driver of the Mark III Employee Benefits Chevrolet has two victories at the .526-mile oval (2016 spring and 2017 fall). His victory in 2016 came in dominating fashion. Busch led 352 of 500 laps and claimed his first win in his 22nd start at Martinsville. His average running position in the race was 1.49 and Busch became the first driver to score a NASCAR national series sweep at Martinsville (he won the Truck Series race the day prior to his Cup victory). In 2017, Busch claimed his second Martinsville victory in NASCAR overtime when he held off Martin Truex Jr. for the victory. Busch also has two pole positions at Martinsville (2014 and 2018) and enters Sunday’s race with four top-10 finishes in the last five races at the paperclip-shaped oval. He has been running at the finish in 34 consecutive Martinsville races (his average finish is a respectable 12.171) and has 21 top-10s in 35 previous starts at the Virginia short track. Busch enters this weekend’s race at Martinsville sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 47 points behind the leader.   


About Mark III Employee Benefits… Mark III Employee Benefits is a family owned, operated, and licensed brokerage and consulting firm since 1973 and is the benefits provider for Richard Childress Racing. The company serves over 150 public sector clients and insure over 300,000 employees throughout Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Mark III Employee Benefits is qualified to evaluate, design, implement, manage, and enhance overall benefits program. Services and areas of expertise for the company include medical consulting, benefit administration, compliance updates, wellness programs and online enrollment platforms. For more information, log on to



Do you think that Martinsville is the most challenging short track on the schedule? How physically and mentally demanding is racing at Martinsville?

“Martinsville is a challenging short track. I think with the Next Gen race car, it has become a bigger challenge just with the fact that everybody is a lot closer. Little setup differences with the old car meant an awful lot in speed and it seems like little setup differences with this car doesn’t really mean a whole lot. Everybody runs the same speed no matter what so it just makes it tough to pass. Track position is everything. The aero effects when you get behind guys make it tough to move around and find grip in other grooves in order to make moves. It seemed like with the old car you could definitely follow a lot better and keep yourself closer to the guy in front of you so if he made a little, tiny mistake you could pounce on that and make a pass."


“The racing there is pretty demanding. I mean, you’re on the brakes all the time and steering all the time. You’re trying to feel that grip and not slip. You want to carry your speed as fast as you can while off the gas. The biggest thing that I learned that made me better at Martinsville is how fast can you go slow. You actually spend more of the lap off the throttle than you do on the throttle so it’s about figuring out how to go slow fast.”  


How important is it to qualify well at Martinsville, not only for track position to start the race but also regarding pit selection?

“Qualifying well at Martinsville now is more important than what it once was. I remember it used to be that it didn’t matter how you qualified. I was never a really good qualifier at Martinsville but you could always race towards the front, pick up some positions on pit road, and get yourself in a good position for the end of the race. I think track position and pit selection with qualifying well is very important. There are four to five really, really good pit stalls on pit road and if you can get one of those pit stalls then that can really make or break your day on pit road.”


You ran well in the Busch Clash. Does that give you optimism for a good run at Martinsville? Can you apply anything you learned there to Martinsville?

“Running well at the Clash gives me some pretty good optimism for Martinsville. I think we’re running the lower downforce package at Martinsville so to me, unfortunately, right now we’re kind of at a deficit with the lower downforce package. But if we can figure that out, then I feel like what we were able to do at the Clash will resonate and give us something for Martinsville that will keep us up front.” 


Sheldon Creed and the No. 2 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Camaro SS at Martinsville Speedway… Sheldon Creed has two career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Martinsville Speedway, both coming in 2022 behind the wheel of the No. 2 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet. In the fall event at the paperclip-shaped track, the 25-year-old started from the second position and also finished in second-place. In addition, Creed has five NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts on his resume at the track, earning one pole (2020) and two top-10 finishes (2020-2021).


Building Momentum... After driving to a sixth-place finish at Richmond Raceway, Creed has now posted four top-10 finishes in the last five Xfinity Series races. With the strong performances, the sophomore driver continues to steadily climb in the driver championship point standings, currently sitting in seventh-place (58 points behind leader and RCR teammate Austin Hill).


Meet Creed… On Saturday, April 15 at 4:50 p.m. ET, Creed is scheduled to sign autographs at the RCR Merchandise Trailer located in the Fan Midway at Martinsville Speedway. Directly after at 5:05 p.m. ET, the California native will head to the Chevrolet Display located in the Fan Midway at Martinsville Speedway for a question and answer session with host Johnny D. Stop by to see Creed before the green flag waves.


Lights Ready and Waiting… Prior to the start of the 2023 season, NASCAR announced the implementation of a newly-designed oval wet weather package that would be available at certain one mile and under tracks, in addition to road course circuits. If wet weather was to damper the on-track activities at Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR would have the option to allow teams to implement the oval wet weather package, including red Whelen lights. Each vehicle is equipped with Model M4 Series lights for inside the rear window and Model ION T-Series lights for under the rear bumper.


About Whelen Engineering… Whelen Engineering is a family-owned company with a pioneering spirit and a passion to protect the lives of those who protect and serve others. The company mission is to provide industry-defining safety solutions around the world, while creating a community of problem-solvers who are inspired to push boundaries and continue our legacy of delivering ground-breaking innovation. As a global leader in the emergency warning industry, Whelen has been trusted to perform since 1952, when George Whelen III invented the first rotating aviation beacon. Whelen now encompasses two state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Connecticut and New Hampshire with over 750,000 square feet of engineering and manufacturing space and the largest design staff in the industry. Every part of every Whelen product is proudly designed and manufactured in America. We embrace quality as our foundation, we celebrate innovative engineering in every product we produce.



You earned a second-place finish in the fall at Martinsville Speedway. Did the No. 2 team learn anything that can transfer to this weekend?

“I think so. Our Whelen Chevrolet has practiced and qualified well both times we have been at Martinsville, which has set us up well for the race. Last fall, I didn't think we raced great, but we played out a good race and were able to survive at the end to finish second. Hopefully we can improve our race pace overall for Saturday night. I still feel like we will be able to practice and qualify well, but we have tried to change the car up a little bit to help our race pace and race better around others. One of the keys to having a good day at Martinsville is surviving and having good restarts during green-white-checkers at the end."


What do you need out of the car to run well at Martinsville Speedway?

"In the past, we have started up front and stayed there for the first 30 or 40 laps, but then we grow tight in center and lack drive on exit. Our gameplan has been to determine what we can give up to gain drive on exit and help the center of the corner. We have worked a lot on that in the sim this week and I feel like we got to a good place. Hopefully that translates into racing well in real life."


Do you enjoy racing at Martinsville Speedway?

"It's actually one of my favorite short tracks. I've also been decent there since the Truck Series days and as long as it stays green, I usually always have good days. But when it gets to carnage at the end, it's 50/50 whether you are on the good or bad side of it."


Austin Hill and the No. 21 Bennett Transportation and Logistics Chevrolet Camaro SS at Martinsville Speedway… Austin Hill has two career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Martinsville Speedway, posting two top-10 finishes in 2022 while driving the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. During the spring race last season, Hill started from the 14th position and drove forward to claim a fourth-place result. The Winston, Georgia native also has 11 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts at the Ridgeway, Virginia facility, earning one top-five (second in 2021) and three top-10 finishes.


Bennett Truck Drivers of the Year… Bennett Family of Companies is honoring and recognizing their 2022 Driver of the Year recipients with a multi-day experience, hosted at Richard Childress Racing and Martinsville Speedway. The honorees will take part in an awards ceremony and exclusive shop tours of both RCR and ECR Engines, before attending the Xfinity Series race on Saturday night. The names of all recipients will be proudly featured on the decklid of Hill's No. 21 Bennett Transportation and Logistics Camaro.


King of the Hill… Through seven races, Hill continues to lead the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver championship point standings. The sophomore driver has a 12-point lead over Riley Herbst. Since his season-opening win at Daytona International Speedway, Hill has been the only points leader in 2023.


About Bennett Family of Companies... McDonough-Ga. based Bennett Family of Companies is a woman-owned, Women’s Enterprise Business Council (WBENC) certified, diversified transportation and logistics company. Through its 14 affiliated operating companies, the Bennett Family of Companies delivers integrated transportation and supply chain management solutions worldwide. Bennett has 4,625 drivers/owner-operators, over 1,000 employees and 600 agents located across the United States. For more information, visit



What are your thoughts heading into Martinsville Speedway? Do you enjoy racing at the paperclip-shaped oval?

“Yes and no honestly. A lot of the time, especially at the end of the race, people drive into the corner and drive into back of you. It can be annoying, because you know you're going to be hit constantly and you can never get into a rhythm unless you're in the top-five. If you're up front, you can get away and get into a rhythm. But if you are mired back in traffic and running in 15th, you never see what your car is capable of, because you're always guarding from behind. I like Martinsville when you go out for practice and the way the track drives, but the way that the competition races there is a little iffy."


"You need a good race car. Your car needs to be really good and stable on entry, not loose or sliding the left front under braking, and then be able to roll to the center. It doesn't matter if your speed slows down in the center, as you can get a really good drive off to pull away from them. I think that's where the guys who win there are successful. But racing at Martinsville is kind of like Daytona and Talladega in a sense, where you can have a really fast car, but a late race restart happens where you get ran over and you are left finishing 30th. I'm kind of torn of whether I like the place or not."


Knowing the second race at Martinsville Speedway in the fall is the final stop before the championship race, is the No. 21 team focused on making improvements to be the best when it matters most?

"We are working really hard to make our car better, because even though we did finish in the top-10 in both races, we didn't think we were that great. We had stuff go our way in the first race and in the second race, I thought we had a halfway decent car, got in a wreck and had to drive our way back to ninth. There was some promise there, but we are going with a little different package than we did last year. Just trying to find something and if it doesn't work, at least we can mark it off and say 'no, that's not it' when we come back in the fall. When we are in the playoff hunt at the end of the season though, I honestly hope I've already won at either Las Vegas or Homestead so I don't have to worry about it and can just have fun. Anytime you go to Martinsville thinking about points, it's a cluster. You really hope you are either already locked in or really good on points."



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