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Oct 25, 2012 - 04:28 PM
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2012 Martinsville II: Toyota NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Oct 25, 2012 - 04:18 PM
2012 Martinsville II: Toyota NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Preview


COVERING KANSAS: Camry driver Martin Truex Jr. registered a runner-up result in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway. It was his second straight runner-up result at the track after a second- place finish in April. Truex's MWR teammate Clint Bowyer (sixth) also earned a top-10 finish at his home track in Kansas.


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CAMRY CHASERS: Heading into the seventh event of the 10-race 'Chase for the Sprint Cup' championship playoff this weekend at Virginia's Martinsville Speedway, Denny Hamlin sits in third-place in the point standings and trails point leader Brad Keselowski by 20 points and second-place Jimmie Johnson by 13 points. Bowyer remains fourth in the standings (-25 points) and Truex moved up to sixth (-43 points).

HIGH HOPES FOR HAMLIN: Toyota driver Hamlin has been victorious in three of his last six trips NSCS to Martinsville Speedway -- in October 2009, and March and October of 2010. In capturing those three checkered flags, the Chesterfield, Va.-native led a race-high 206 laps (of 501) in 2009, another race-high 172 laps (of 508) in the 2010 spring race, and 40 laps in the 2010 fall race. Hamlin has a total of four NSCS wins at Martinsville. He scored his first win driving a Toyota Camry at the track in March 2008.

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, Martinsville is second only to another Virginia track -- Richmond International Raceway -- for the total number of NSCS wins by Camry drivers since 2007. All four of the Cup wins belong to Virginia-native Hamlin (October 2010, March 2010, October 2009 and March 2008). Tundra drivers have earned seven wins at the track since Toyota entered the Truck Series in 2004. Those seven wins at one track are second only to the 10 victories that Tundra drivers have earned at Texas Motor Speedway. Tundra drivers that have visited victory lane at Martinsville include Hamlin (October 2011), David Starr (March 2006), Jack Sprague (October 2006), Mike Skinner (March and October 2007), Johnny Benson (October 2008) and Timothy Peters (October 2009).

TIMOTHY'S TURF: Tundra driver Peters scored his first career NCWTS victory in October 2009 at Martinsville Speedway. The Danville, Va.-resident joined Red Horse Racing midway through the 2009 season and previously ran his own NCWTS operation out of his home 30 miles from Martinsville. This weekend's NCWTS race at Martinsville will prove crucial for Peters as he contends for the 2012 championship. Peters is currently third in the standings -- 26 points behind point leader Ty Dillon -- with only four races remaining in the season.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Since the start of the 2012 season, Toyota drivers have combined for 10 victories, 46 top- five results, 98 top-10 finishes and have led 3,304 laps … The next win for a Camry driver in the NSCS will be the 50th for Toyota in the series since the start of the 2007 season …Darian Grubb, crew chief on the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 11 FedEx Camry for Denny Hamlin is a graduate of Virginia Tech University and native of Floyd, Va. … Clint Bowyer will make his 250th career NSCS start at Martinsville on Sunday.

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What has prevented you from returning to victory lane at Martinsville?

"Fuel strategy -- one time. It was when we finished 12th -- we were leading the race and pretty much dominating and got caught on pit road with a caution and went a couple laps down. Then after that, this year -- the spring race is the one race where we did not run well. We had some setup issues that we found in the car afterwards, after the race was over -- some mistakes that we made with our setup, basically putting the wrong pieces in the wrong places. So, that is hopefully why we ran so bad in the spring where we finished decent but not great. And so hopefully that's rectified. Honestly, we look forward to going back. Especially, as good as our short track program's been here in the last few -- between New Hampshire and Richmond -- that don't necessarily correlate, but still drive like a short track."

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

How different is the style of racing at Martinsville compared to other Chase tracks?

"Totally different -- aero doesn't mean anything and track position is important. Martinsville has always been one of those tracks that I look at and think that I'm really not that good there. Chad (Johnston, crew chief) and the guys reminded me this week that I have three top-fives there and four top-10s in like the last three or four races there. We've had a good record there lately, so they are going to change my mind about it. We have a brand new car we're taking there and we're all real excited about it. The guys put a lot of effort into it back at the shop and, hopefully, we will go up there and have a shot at winning the thing."

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

How has Scott Miller helped with the turnaround at Michael Waltrip Racing?

"Scott Miller (MWR competition direction) -- just like I did -- we both walked into a good situation. It wasn't he or I or any one person that turned the thing around. It was just bits and pieces here and there in the whole organization. They had a lot of depth -- a lot of organization already. It just seemed like he came in and he's got an understanding of keeping an eye on the ball and following that goal and keeping everything on track. People get to racing themselves and get grouchy. This is a tough schedule. He does a good job of just managing the crew chiefs, managing our R&D (research and development). This sport seems like if you lay down and take a break for a week, you're three weeks behind. It's unbelievable how fast things advance. If you don't have a game plan and have somebody in place to orchestrate all of that you're going to get behind, and Scott Miller is our guy for that."

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Halloween Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Is it possible to make it through a Martinsville race unscathed?

"There's some guys here that can run around Martinsville and not have a mark on their car when the race is all said and done and they finish in a good spot. My first couple times here I think I had every corner ripped off of it and was finishing in the 20s and then I finally figured out what to do and how to do it and then I started running well and picking up some top-fives a little bit and not having a mark on the car. It seems it's easier when you're a little bit better or you're a little bit smarter, when you know who you're racing and when you're car's good to come out of here with a good day and not be torn up too much. There's always some times where somebody just wants to drive into you for something to do and move you out of the way and cause some chaos. You'll have those moments too at Martinsville."

NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS): After 30 races, Mike Bliss ranks eighth in the series point standings … Brian Scott (ninth) also ranks in the top-10 in the standings … The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) Camry currently leads the NNS owner's point standings by 21 points over second-place … The NNS will enjoy their final weekend off of the 2012 season before returning to action at Texas Motor Speedway on November 3.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS): After 18 races, Timothy Peters ranks third in the series point standings -- 26 points behind series point leader Ty Dillon … Parker Kligerman (fourth), Matt Crafton (sixth) and Johnny Sauter (ninth) are also in the top-10 in the standings … NSCS Toyota driver Denny Hamlin earned his first NCWTS win in last fall's Martinsville race and will make his second NCWTS start this season when he pilots the No. 51 Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports at Martinsville … Hamlin's win made him the 23rd NASCAR driver to have wins in all three of NASCAR's premier series … Tundra driver Todd Bodine will make his 775th career NASCAR national series start at Martinsville … Travis McFarland, a mechanic on the No. 17 Tundra is from Winchester, Va. … Mark Schmuck, fuel man and mechanic on the No. 7 Tundra is from Virginia Beach.

TIMOTHY PETERS, No. 17 Toyota Tundra, Red Horse Racing

What is it like racing at your home track of Martinsville Speedway?

"It always gives me confidence going back there knowing that I was able to check the win box off my first time there. It's really special. I worked hard to get to that point -- not only me but my family, my wife Sara (Peters) and everyone that was giving me support and to go there that day and get that off my chest and do it in great fashion it was pretty cool. I always went up there as a kid and watched Darrell Waltrip and I have a lot of great memories from when he drove the number 11 and the 17. There's not one memory in particular, but all the trips stand out as great memories."

PARKER KLIGERMAN, No. 7 Toyota Tundra, Red Horse Racing

What do you like about racing at Martinsville Speedway?

"Martinsville is definitely a track that brings us back to the old days of NASCAR -- lots of beating, banging and leaning on each other. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series always puts on a good race there and I enjoy going there because of that. It's a place that really puts emphasis on the driver and the team to find a truck that can turn in the center really well, while having the drive off the corner. The great thing about NASCAR is that you race at all different types of tracks and every place has something a little different to offer. I think the old-fashioned, beating and banging short track racing that happens at Martinsville is the kind of racing that a lot of our fans look forward to, both young and old. I know as drivers we look forward to it, getting some aggression out every once in awhile."

TODD BODINE, No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra, Red Horse Racing

What is so special to you about racing at Martinsville?

"I have been going to Martinsville since I was eight years old. I grew up in Rocky Mount, Va., and went to school at Franklin County High School, which is about 30-40 minutes from the race track. My brothers Brett and Geoffrey both have multiple NASCAR wins at the track and also multiple wins in the modified series. I was part of the team and even changed tires back when they were racing modifieds. There is a lot of family history in southern Virginia and it's very much a 'home track' for me."

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