FORD PERFORMANCE NASCAR: MARTINSVILLE PLAYOFF NOTES
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs have reached the halfway mark and three Ford drivers are part of the Round of 8, which begins this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney are still in contention for this year’s championship. The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series will also be in action at the half-mile oval as the Round of 6, featuring Ford’s Matt Crafton, continues with its second of three races.
ROUND OF 8 MENCS PLAYOFF STANDINGS (Top 4 Advance After Phoenix)
4th – Joey Logano (+2 ahead of cutoff)
5th – Kevin Harvick (-2 from final transfer spot)
8th – Ryan Blaney (-21 from final transfer spot)
FORD IN THE MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES AT MARTINSVILLE
· Ford has 30 series wins at Martinsville Speedway.
· Ford has won three straight and four of the last five series events.
· Brad Keselowski is going for the season sweep this weekend.
· Joey Logano has won the pole in 5 of the last 7 contested qualifying sessions.
ROUND OF 6 NCWTS PLAYOFF STANDINGS (Top 4 Advance After Phoenix)
4th – Matt Crafton (+1 ahead of cutoff)
FORD IN THE NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES AT MARTINSVILLE
· Ford has five all-time NCWTS wins at Martinsville Speedway.
· ThorSport’s Matt Crafton has two victories at the speedway while Johnny Sauter has four.
· Sauter is the defending winner of this weekend’s race.
· Ben Rhodes led Ford with a second-place finish in the first race this year at Martinsville.
Martinsville Speedway has not historically been Ford’s best track, but that has been changing the past couple of seasons. After enduring a 28-race winless drought at NASCAR’s oldest track, Ford goes into this weekend having won three straight and four of the last five events. That includes a sweep of last year’s two races in which Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano found their way to Victory Lane, marking the first time Ford captured both Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races in the same season since 2001. Brad Keselowski continued Ford’s hot streak when he won here in the spring. In addition, Ford has won five of the last seven contested poles (all by Logano), not including two sessions that were cancelled due to weather.
BOWYER NETS FIRST FORD WIN
Clint Bowyer snapped a 190-race winless stretch by leading the final 114 laps to win the weather-delayed STP 500 in 2018. The win was Bowyer’s first with Ford and ninth of his career. He passed Ryan Blaney on lap 285 to gain the lead for the first time, and when Jamie McMurray brought out the caution 100 laps later after hitting the wall, Bowyer’s pit crew got him back out with the lead and that proved to be the difference. That capped a big day for Ford, which had five drivers finish in the Top 10 and saw Blaney win Stage 2.
LOGANO PUNCHES CHAMPIONSHIP 4 TICKET
When NASCAR came to Martinsville a year ago for the Round of 8 opener, Joey Logano emerged with an automatic berth into the Championship 4 after a dramatic final lap battle with Martin Truex Jr. Logano, who has five poles at the track, was dominant all day as he led a race-high 309 laps, but Truex challenged and took the lead on the final lap. Logano used his bumper to get inside Truex coming off turn four and the two ended up banging doors to the checkered flag with Logano narrowly beating him and Denny Hamlin.
KESELOWSKI WINS FIRST CLOCK
Brad Keselowski outdueled Kyle Busch down the stretch to win his first grandfather clock after capturing the STP 500 on Apr. 2, 2017. The two drivers waged a memorable battle that saw them swap the lead five times in the last 160 laps, but Keselowski ended up making the decisive pass on lap 458 and led the final 43 circuits to become the first repeat winner in 2017. Prior to winning at Martinsville, Keselowski took the checkered flag at Atlanta in the second race of the season.
A FIRST FOR FRED
The first time Ford won a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway also marked the first career victory for 2015 NASCAR Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen. The date was April 9, 1961 and Lorenzen battled Rex White, who led the first 118 laps after starting on the pole. Lorenzen, driving for Holman-Moody at the time, grabbed the lead on lap 119 and held it until rain came ending the race prematurely after 149 circuits. Little did anyone know that 54 years later both men would be enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the same induction class. Martinsville was a place Lorenzen dominated, winning six times, including four straight from 1963-65. He was absolutely unbeatable in 1964 as he led 990 out of a possible 1,000 laps (487 in the first and 493 in the second) in winning both races.
CRAVEN WINS FIRST CUP RACE
Ricky Craven outlasted Dale Jarrett over the final laps to post the first victory of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career on Oct. 15, 2001 at Martinsville Speedway. Pit strategy played a key role in this race as Jarrett opted for four tires on his final stop while Craven just got two. That enabled Craven to build a lead following the ensuing restart with 17 to go, but Jarrett gained ground and found himself in position to win on the final lap. That’s when Jarrett went to the outside going into turn one and got side-by-side with Craven coming off turn two. Both Fords made contact door-to-door entering turn three, but Craven emerged off four with the advantage and took the checkered flag.
RUDD ROUGHS IT OUT
No driver displayed more toughness during his career than Ricky Rudd and that was evident again in 1998 when the Virginia native endured burns on his backside to win the NAPA Autocare 500 on Sept. 27. On a day that saw temperatures in the mid-nineties, Rudd found himself in a bad way just five laps into the race when his cooling unit failed. As the cockpit got hotter he asked to have a relief driver standing by, so Hut Stricklin was in the pit area ready to takeover. Ice packs helped momentarily, but his back was blistering so the team tried to cool him off with a hose. Unfortunately, the hose they used had been lying in the sun, so when they doused him the first time the water was hot. That method worked better on later stops, but in the end it was Rudd who toughed it out and led the final 96 laps to win and extend his streak to 16 consecutive seasons with at least one Monster Energy NASCAR Cup win.
BUSCH BEATS BENSON
When Kurt Busch won at Martinsville Speedway was on Oct. 20, 2002 he set a track record for winning from the furthest starting position after taking the green flag in 36th-place. It took him all day to eventually get to the front of the field, but he took the lead on lap 389 and surrendered it for only one lap to Johnny Benson the rest of the way in posting his second career win. Benson was all over Busch’s bumper in the closing laps as lap traffic created plenty of drama, but Busch was able to weave his way through and take the checkered flag.
FORD MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP WINNERS AT MARTINSVILLE
1961 – Fred Lorenzen (1)
1962 – Nelson Stacy (2)
1963 – Fred Lorenzen (2)
1964 – Fred Lorenzen (Sweep)
1965 – Fred Lorenzen and Junior Johnson
1966 – Fred Lorenzen (2)
1969 – Richard Petty (Sweep)
1986 – Ricky Rudd (1)
1990 – Geoffrey Bodine (Sweep)
1992 – Mark Martin and Geoffrey Bodine
1993 – Ernie Irvan (2)
1994 – Rusty Wallace (Sweep)
1995 – Rusty Wallace (1)
1996 – Rusty Wallace (1)
1997 – Jeff Burton (1)
1998 – Ricky Rudd (2)
2000 – Mark Martin (1)
2001 – Dale Jarrett and Ricky Craven
2002 – Kurt Busch (2)
2017 – Brad Keselowski (1)
2018 – Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano
2019 – Brad Keselowski (1)
FORD NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES WINNERS AT MARTINSVILLE
1995 – Joe Ruttman
2003 – Jon Wood (2)
2004 – Rick Crawford (1)
2005 – Ricky Craven (2)
2015 – Joey Logano (1)