Darrell Wallace Jr returns to Martinsville Speedway after making history last October by becoming the second African-American to win a NASCAR national series event – and the first in 50 years. And now, the 21-year-old looks to make more history at the .526-mile track.
After his win in October, Wallace celebrated with family members of the Wendell Scott family, who live in nearby Danville. Scott was the first African-American driver to win a national series event, in 1963. Wallace also comes to Martinsville looking to improve his place in the standings after getting collected in a mid-race accident at Daytona.
While Wallace enjoys his significant accomplishment in the fall, he also looks to become the first driver to win back-to-back races at the paper-clip shaped track since Mike Skinner swept in 2007.
Hometown hero, Timothy Peters has built a successful career in the Camping World Truck Series that includes seven victories and a top-ten points finish in the last six races.
Arguably, his greatest personal accomplishment was his Martinsville Speedway victory in 2009. This weekend, he hopes to duplicate that feat.
Peters, lives in nearby Danville, VA, hopes the new truck body will only elevate his success on the Virginia short track. The 2014 truck body debuted at Daytona and will make its first short-track start this weekend.
After Kyle Busch passed him with less than a quarter-mile to go in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway, Peters is coming to Martinsville set on getting his second win at his home track.
Although Peters enters with the points lead as the highest finishing championship contender from Daytona, he knows keeping that lead will be a challenge at one of NASCAR’s most challenging tracks.
Johnny Sauter is trying to make it two spring wins in a row at Martinsville and the veteran will attempt to become the first driver since Kevin Harvick to win back-to-back spring races at the track – Harvick did it in 2009 and 2010. Also expected to contend is defending series champion Matt Crafton and defending pole winner of the Kroger 240, Jeb Burton.
Peters finished fourth in this race last year. If Peters is able to score the win this Saturday, he would become the sixth driver to record multiple wins at the track. Dennis Setzer, Mike Skinner and Harvick all share the record with three wins.
With his announcement earlier this week that he will make his Camping World Truck Series début at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, NASCAR Next driver, Ben Rhodes took another step up the NASCAR ladder. The Louisville, KY, driver will be one of four NASCAR Next members entered for this weekend’s Kroger 250, joining Jeb Burton, Gray Gaulding and Ben Kennedy.
This will mark the first time four active members of the NASCAR Next program – an industry initiative to spotlight young talent in the sport – will compete in a Camping World Truck Series race. Last year, NASCAR Next members Chase Elliott, Burton and Kennedy competed together in five races.
“I’m really thankful for this opportunity,” said Rhodes. “I can’t thank Harry Scott and Steve Turner enough for giving me this chance to gain valuable experience behind the wheel of one of the best trucks in the truck series. Turner Scott Motorsports is a top-notch organization and I hope to learn a lot this year from both my Truck Series team as well as my K&N team.”
Gaulding is one of seven drivers entered who did race in the season opener at Daytona and like Rhodes, will be making his first official NASCAR national series start.
Erik Jones returns to the series for the first time since becoming the youngest winner in NASCAR national series history with his victory at Phoenix last season. He will again drive the No. 51, Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota. In the video below Jones reflects on Phoenix, previews Martinsville and reveals his goals for the 2014 season.
Terrebonne, Quebec native Alex Guenette will make his first start of the season on Saturday. Last year, Guenette suffered mechanical problems and finished 25th in the truck event at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in his only previous start. He finished tenth last season in the final standings of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.
GMS Racing has announced 2011 K&N Pro Series East champion Max Gresham will drive No. 23 Chevrolet in five Camping World Truck Series events in 2014. Gresham completed full-time last season scoring one top-five and four top-ten finishes. Gresham’s first race of the year is at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.
Joey Coulter has signed Alamo Rent-a-Car as a sponsor on his No. 21 Chevrolet for this weekend’s Kroger 250.
When SS Green Light Racing fields the No. 07 truck this weekend for Ray Black Jr, it will be the 315th consecutive series’ start for the team. The streak began back in 2001.