James Buescher wins the Fan Appreciation 200 Presented by New Holland at Iowa Speedway.
Storied paperclip oval was one of original tracks on NASCAR circuit Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series heads to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway this weekend, one of two annual treks to the legendary half-mile that have taken place for more than 65 years. Before Charlotte, Bristol, Texas or Talladega. Before Daytona or Darlington even, there was Martinsville. They were racing at Martinsville before NASCAR grew from an idea into reality. “Stock car racing makes its debut at the new Martinsville Speedway next Sunday afternoon when more than 35 of the nation’s leading drivers risk their necks and cars for over $2,000 in prize money. … The new track boasts the largest grandstand of any speedway in the South, a huge affair which will seat 10,000 spectators. The total capacity of the speedway is 20,000 people. Built at a cost of $85,000, the Martinsville Speedway is regarded as one of the finest half-mile dirt tracks in the United States.” The item appeared in one of the region’s daily newspapers. The date was Monday, Sept. 1, 1947. NASCAR was officially incorporated in February 1948. Built by local businessman H. Clay Earles, Martinsville hosted one of the eight original stops on the NASCAR Strictly Stock schedule in 1949. Before that, drivers who would become some of stock car racing’s earliest stars could be found hustling their way around the paperclip-shaped track. Red Byron, winner of the inaugural ’49 race, won the track’s first official event two years earlier, a 50-lap affair for Modified stock cars. Fonty Flock won there in ’48 just as NASCAR was getting started. One by one, the other tracks on the schedule that first season eventually fell by the wayside – Charlotte Speedway, Daytona’s beach and road course, Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, North Carolina, Langhorne and Heidelberg (Pennsylvania), Hamburg (N.Y.) Speedway. Even North Wilkesboro, a staple from the start, eventually faded into the background when NASCAR departed after the ‘96 season. Martinsville, however, remains. “It means we, and by that I mean going back to when the place was built by my grandfather all the way through until now, are doing something right,” said Clay Campbell, grandson of the track’s founder and president of the facility since 1988. “A lot of guys that started close to the same time, obviously they aren’t around now. I think my grandfather had the vision to keep investing in the facility and doing things that were necessary not only from a fan standpoint but from a competitor’s standpoint and everything that he did, I think we’re pretty much following the same philosophy.” • • • “It was dirt to begin with,” Richard Petty said, easing back in the recliner inside his motorhome. “I never ran on it when it was dirt. My daddy did and he won some races.” Outside, cars are circling Phoenix International Raceway , site of the recently completed CampingWorld.com 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. PIR is roughly 2,000 miles from Martinsville, and Petty, now 77, is nearly as removed from his days as a championship driver. One of the five inaugural members of NASCAR’s Hall of Fame, Petty is the sport’s all-time leader in premier series wins with 200 and is one of only two drivers to win seven championships. He’s also a valuable link to NASCAR’s past. And Martinsville, much like the Petty family, is an unbroken piece of ribbon that has run through the sport from its earliest days. Petty’s father, Lee, was NASCAR’s first three-time champion. A Hall of Fame member as well, Lee Petty won 54 times. Three of those victories came at Martinsville – two when it was dirt and a third after the track was paved. “When they asphalted it (in ’55), it was completely different,” Richard Petty said. “When they re-did the track, they cleaned up the infield. When (NASCAR) ran there and it was dirt, there were bushes in the infield, a little creek running down through there. All that was there was the track. “Once they asphalted it, they didn’t just do the track, they cleaned up everything else. It was like a brand new track. It was shaped the same, but everything else was different.” The creek is still there today, running underneath the track and working its way from one end of the speedway to the other. Petty won 15 times at Martinsville, a record matched only by his success at North Wilkesboro. It’s no surprise that Martinsville remains a staple on the schedule after all these years. “Not really,” he said. “It’s just so different from any other track we run.” At 0.526 mile, it’s the shortest of the short tracks and unlike other venues, there’s only the slightest banking in the turns. Turn 43 cars loose all at one and it isn’t just close-quarters racing -- it’s the closest-quarters racing fans are likely to see all season long. “Back when we had drum brakes, the deal was being able to run 500 laps and have brakes when the race was over,” Petty said. “Probably wasn’t but two or three cars that had brakes that could stop the thing when it was over with. “It was just a good track for the way I drove and the way (crew chief) Dale Inman set up cars; we just had a good combination for that race track. We understood the track.” From 1967-73, Petty won 10 times at Martinsville, including five straight starts between ’68-71. “We spent more time working on the brakes that week than we did on getting (the car) to handle or run fast,” Petty said. “From our strategy standpoint … a lot of times we didn’t race that hard. We saved our brakes, stayed in the race. But as far as going out and trying to lead all the laps and everything, that wasn’t our deal. It was more of a survival track. Over a period of time they got the brakes better and it got to where you had to race all the time.” • • • The lone block concession stand in the infield is one of the few reminders of Martinsville’s past. “The last piece of history,” Campbell said. “It goes back as far as the ‘60s, probably longer than that.” Other structures have been upgraded or replaced through the years. The sport has changed, and those that follow it have as well. Keeping up with the fast-paced sport, and everything it entails “is difficult,” Campbell said, “but therein lies the fun part of the business and the challenge of it. “It’s no different than the competitors – they have to keep changing to newer things and keep up with the pace; and the same thing for the facilities. Fortunately now with us being a part of ISC and a bigger global picture we’re more in touch with things that we need from a social media standpoint, Wi-Fi and on and on and on. Things we now have and things we’re exploring for the future.” International Speedway Corp. owns 12 of the 23 tracks hosting NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events in 2015. The company purchased the speedway in 2004. Nearly 170 tracks have hosted one or more NASCAR premier series races since that inaugural 1949 season, from Airborne to Wine Creek, Auto Club to Watkins Glen. Most are now gone. Martinsville, one of the very first, is still there. “We’re very fortunate that we had the things we needed and on are par with most of the others so we can keep on moving right along,” Campbell said. “Things like the garage, access roads coming in, the (Turn 4) tunnel, the suites, and things of that nature. “Luckily, as time went on with my grandfather, he didn’t sit still and that was a good thing. Because had he done that we’d be playing catch-up, and now’s not the time to be playing catch-up.” MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Erik Jones has team's only experience at Martinsville
Earnhardt will drive No. 55 Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Viva Motorsports announced Monday that NASCAR XFINITY Series driver/owner Jamie Dick will sit out this weekend's race at Auto Club Speedway after being diagnosed with new onset diabetes. Dick, 26, visited the infield care center at Phoenix International Raceway , reporting symptoms of fatigue and dizziness after finishing 28th Saturday in the fourth XFINITY Series race of the season. Medical personnel at the track recommended Dick visit nearby West Valley Hospital in Goodyear, Arizona, that evening. According to the team, Dick was released from the hospital Sunday afternoon. The team said he returned to the Charlotte, North Carolina, area for further treatment and evaluation. "I would like to thank everyone for their support during this difficult time," Dick said in a statement released by the team. "It was quite a surprise to hear the diagnosis from the doctors, but the response from the NASCAR and PIR medical staffs was outstanding. The support from the racing community, my Viva Motorsports team, and the fans has been overwhelming. Now I need to learn about this disease and do whatever it takes to get back behind the wheel as soon as possible." Jeffrey Earnhardt , who drove the Viva No. 55 Chevrolet in the other two XFINITY events this season, will fill in for Dick in Saturday's Drive4Clots.com 300 (4 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) in Fontana, California. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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Wrapping up the week that was and look forward to the week ahead Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Hendrick Motorsports will have five teams vying for starting positions in Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway , but HMS officials aren't skirting the rules. Since 2006, NASCAR has limited Sprint Cup organizations to no more than four full-time teams. However, officials allow a fifth entry for a maximum of seven starts "for the purpose of enabling a rookie driver … to become familiar with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition." In addition to full-time teams for drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne , HMS will field a fifth entry for defending XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott at Martinsville. It will be Elliott's first attempt in the Sprint Cup Series, one of five scheduled for the 19-year-old this season. Elliott will also be entered in Sprint Cup races at Richmond (April 25), Charlotte (May 24), Indianapolis (July 26) and Darlington (Sept. 6). The No. 25 Chevrolet will carry sponsorship from NAPA and will be led by crew chief Kenny Francis. Elliott is slated to replace Gordon in the team's No. 24 Chevrolet beginning in 2016. It will be the first time an organization has fielded five Sprint Cup teams in one race since 2009 provided Elliott qualifies for the 43-car field. HMS fielded a fifth team on a part-time basis that season for driver Brad Keselowski -- his final start with HMS came at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October. Roush Fenway Racing was allowed to field five full-time teams through the end of '09 due to sponsorship agreements that were in place when the cap was announced three years earlier. MORE INSPECTION TIME ADDED • NASCAR will continue to incorporate additional time into the pre-qualifying inspection process as the Sprint Cup Series returns from a three-week West Coast swing and heads to Martinsville. Schedule adjustments at Las Vegas, Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway resulted in an additional 15 minutes of off-track time at each venue to allow teams to prepare and present their cars for pre-qualifying inspection and for officials to complete the inspection process. The move came in the wake of inspection delays at the season's second event, the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Thirteen cars were unable to complete the pre-qualifying inspection process in time to post an official first-round qualifying lap at Atlanta. Friday's schedule at Martinsville indicates changes from '14 that will provide an additional 10 minutes of time between the end of opening practice and the start of qualifying. Compared to last year's Martinsville spring race schedule, opening practice is now five minutes shorter (12-1:25 p.m. ET) and qualifying will being later (4:45 p.m. instead of 4:40 p.m.). In addition, in a NASCAR bulletin distributed to teams, the first round of Sprint Cup Series qualifying will now be 20 minutes at short tracks and intermediate tracks. This takes affect at Martinsville this weekend. NO PRACTICE PENALTIES • No teams required more than three attempts to pass pre-qualifying inspection at Auto Club Speedway , meaning none will be docked 15 minutes at the beginning of practice Friday at Martinsville. NASCAR notified teams earlier this year that any vehicle that fails qualifying inspection more than twice will be subject to a 15-minute practice penalty that will be applied during the opening practice of the next scheduled event. TIRES IMPOUNDED • NASCAR impounded the tires from four teams following Sunday's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway . Tires from the teams of Kevin Harvick and teammate Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), as well as teammates Ryan Newman and Paul Menard ( Richard Childress Racing ) went back to the NASCAR R&D Center for evaluation. Harvick and Busch finished second and third, respectively, while Menard finished fourth and Newman fifth. It marked the second time this season that NASCAR had impounded tires following a Sprint Cup Series event. The sanctioning body took tires from the teams of race winner Harvick and eighth-place finisher Joey Logano after this month’s Phoenix race. No issues with the Phoenix tires were found, according to NASCAR officials. Sunday's race was the first for teams with the new left-side tire code at Auto Club. There was no change in the right-side tires. • According to Goodyear, Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series teams will run the same Goodyear tire codes this weekend at Martinsville used when the two series visited the half-mile track last October. This particular tire is not used for any other events by the two series. PIT ROAD PENALTIES • Officials in NASCAR's Pit Road Officiating (PRO) trailer called 12 of the 22 penalties issued during Sunday’s Auto Club 400 , the second fewest through this year’s first five races. Six of the 12 were for tire violations -- failure to control an outside tire. Only Phoenix saw fewer total violations (19) and those made by officials in the PRO trailer (nine). There have been 158 penalties thus far this season, including 60 that were called by the PRO group. Officials in the tower continue to call infractions for speeding when entering/exiting pit road, pitting before pit road is open and various safety-related violations. Officials in the PRO trailer use video to respond to potential infractions such as too many crewmen in contact with the pit service area, crewmen over the wall too soon and pit box tire violations. PENALTIES FOR FONTANA INFRACTIONS • On Wednesday, NASCAR issued penalities for infractions during race weekend at Auto Club Speedway . Click here for penalties on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series No. 33 team, and click here for penalties on the NASCAR XFINITY Series No. 8 team. POST-RACE INSPECTIONS • Because of the schedule that saw teams competing at Las Vegas, Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway in consecutive weeks, final post-race inspection for entries from both Phoenix and Auto Club will be conducted Wednesday at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina. Both Stewart-Haas Racing entries of driver Kevin Harvick , which finished first and second at Phoenix and Auto Club, respectively, were sent back to the R&D Center as well as the cars of Auto Club winner Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske ) and Phoenix runner-up Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates). MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Michael Waltrip Racing driver making season debut at Las Vegas Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live LAS VEGAS – Sporting a big smile and nodding acknowledgement to countless "welcome back" wishes as he walked around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway paddock, Brian Vickers conceded it felt a little different getting dressed for work Friday. "The first two times I've put this suit on it's been for photo-shoots or commercials or media and today it's to actually use it and it felt a little better zipping it up today than it did the first two times because it's here -- it's real and I can't wait to get in that car here in a few minutes," Vickers said. Sunday's Kobalt 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) in Las Vegas will be Vickers' first Sprint Cup Series race of the season in his No. 55 Aaron's Toyota as he recovers from offseason open-heart surgery. Doctors had to repair an issue from a previous operation to "patch" a hole in his heart. It's the third time since 2010 that Vickers has been sidelined because of serious medical issues, including a hole in his heart and recurring blood clots found at various times in his lung, leg and finger. Vickers, 32, has dealt with these life-altering, career-interrupting diagnosis and conditions through the years with thoughtful perspective – a quality those that know him would say he benefitted from well before he needed it most. "I think a perspective is anytime you have to fight for something and anytime it's taken away from you -- I mean, it's kind of like a kid with a toy, right?" Vickers said. "You take the toy away -- they just want the toy more. How many times have you pulled a toy away from a kid and -- we're just big kids, especially boys, we never grow up and I see a lot of females nodding -- so you take their toy away and they just want it even more. "And I've had it taken away several times, so, yes, I want it more and I think I also have a deeper appreciation for it. I think when you get in a routine, you do something for 10 years or 15 years, five years, whatever it is, you just kind of wake up in the morning and you expect it and then one day when you realize and maybe several days you realize that you can't just wake up and expect it, you've got to fight for it and you appreciate it more and you love it more "But at the same time, I also have -- I think I've tried to find balance in my life where, like I said earlier, it's not who I am. If it doesn't happen, my life's not over. There's still a lot of things to be done and challenges and opportunities and you just kind of keep going." Which is good news for Michael Waltrip Racing , which has steadfastly held a seat for the 2003 XFINITY Series champion and three-time Cup winner. His value to the team is not only behind the wheel. Vickers has contributed even when he's not been racing. Just ask 22-year old racer Brett Moffitt . Moffitt admirably filled in for Vickers in the No. 55 last week at Atlanta (eighth-place finish) and as a MWR development driver has relied on Vickers as a mentor on-track and someone whose path of perseverance away from the track, inspires. "I think we all have different stories of how we got here and how we stay here,'" Moffitt said Friday. "Seeing him [Vickers] go through all of this for multiple times and still having the will power to come back and tell himself he won’t be defeated is huge. His energy and attitude are better than ever right now. I really think he will come back on top of his game here, which he has proved in the past he can do." Some would find it interesting that as Vickers has navigated his medical challenges, his philosophy about his job has evolved too. A big talent, who has won money and fame and adoration through his performance on track, Vickers has discovered there is a good life to be had no matter how high your profile. "It's something over the last 10 years and my life and particularly the last five years dealing with everything, I've learned that my love for racing has only increased -- my love for what I do and how much I appreciate it -- but I've also learned that it's not who I am," Vickers said. "It's something I do and it's part of who I am. It's a very special part of who I am and it's something that means the world to me, but it's not who I am. If I can't race, that's okay -- life is going to go on. "I think from that perspective, yes, I asked the doctors, 'Can I go race and I want to go race,' but if they say no, I'm not going to fight them. If they said, 'Listen, we don't think it's safe,' I'm not going to fight them on it. Kind of through that process -- I mean, listen, being back here at Vegas, it was their choice, not me. I didn't push them into this." That's not to say that Vickers didn't always hope for the best and plan for the positive. Faced with difficult odds and given medical challenges he never anticipated, Vickers has remained equal parts strong, optimistic and philosophic. The upside of having to overcome these tough, personal and emotional circumstances is finding out that you can. "There are certainly times where I wasn't sure if I was ever going to be back and then you kind of deal with those emotions and then all the sudden you're back and then you have to deal with those emotions," Vickers said. "I couldn't be more thrilled about it. I think to a large extent a month ago, I was as curious as probably some of you were as to how I would feel Friday morning. I can tell you I couldn't be happier." "I was talking to someone on the way in and they asked what my emotions were going into this and I kind of look at it like a win-win. If we go out there and do well, that's great. And even if we don't, just being able to get back in a race car again and go 200 is incredible." Then he paused and smiled again, offering a not-too subtle lesson to us as all. "No matter what the outcome, I'm happy to be here and happy to be back in a car again and get a chance to do something I love, but I'm an optimist -- I think we're going to go out there and do well and I'm really proud of what this Aaron's Dream Machine team has done so far this year with Michael (Waltrip, team co-owner and a part-time driver) and Brett (Moffitt, replacement driver) and the gains we've made through the off-season and the gains that Toyota has made through the off-season and hopefully we can put it all together here this weekend in Vegas and come out of here with a good finish." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Third-place finish after late cautions didn't diminish day's gains Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live FONTANA, Calif. -- The disappointment was palpable as Kurt Busch candidly answered questions from a handful of reporters huddled around his No. 41 Chevrolet on Auto Club Speedway pit lane Sunday afternoon. A hundred yards away Brad Keselowski was performing a loud victory burnout for the sold-out California crowd. The celebration could have easily belonged to Busch, who started from the pole position, led a race-high six times for a race-best 65 laps, but finished third after getting out-maneuvered on the restart of NASCAR's second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. Keselowski led only that final lap. Busch was obviously letdown by the outcome. Yet even in the highly emotional moments immediately after the race, he didn't deflect his fortune on the late caution flag controversy. Busch actually seemed upbeat despite the outcome. "I don't know what we could have done different,'' Busch said matter-of-factly. "We just got pinned in by the yellows and the sequence at the end on which tires we needed to have to optimize how many laps were left. "We had two tires; Keselowski had four. We didn't need that extra yellow at the end, and I just got out-muscled by Keselowski." And contrary to what one might have expected, Busch even described the day as being "fantastic" overall. For him, every day racing a Sprint Cup car is fantastic. After missing the first three races of the 2015 while serving a NASCAR suspension for legal issues off-track, Busch has wasted no time returning to form behind the wheel of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet. He started eighth and finished fifth in his first race back at Phoenix a week ago and added a Coors Light Pole Award and third-place effort in California. In those two starts, Busch has earned more points (82) than four drivers who have started all five races -- his team owner Tony Stewart among those he has outpaced in just two races ( see the full standings here ). And because NASCAR granted Busch an exemption, he is Chase eligible as long as he stays among the top 30 in points. He's already 28th. "Some of it is the preparation of the team and some of it is the cars coming back toward my driving style," Busch explained of his fast start. "I like cars with less downforce in the rear and that balance feel I think has complemented the way that I drive. So, honestly I think it has to do with some of the rules packages that NASCAR has implemented and you've got to drive the car a little bit looser." After winning the pole position at the super fast California 2-miler on Friday, Busch insisted he wasn't looking for redemption necessarily. But he was frank about how much it means to be back in a car and the extra motivation he carries. "It's about driving,'' Busch said. "I have said it before on how this is a privilege to have a chance to drive at this top level. When it is taken away from you or you have made a mistake and you don't get a chance to go out there and do it on your terms, it is tough. "I don't have anything to prove. I have my job to do, which is to go out there, drive and race for wins." His talent has never been in question, but his drive has never more apparent. "(I'm) just putting the blinders on and focusing on the car," Busch said. "It's my love. It's my passion. It's what I do." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Comparing two of NASCAR's greatest streaks Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Editor's note: Kevin Harvick has eight consecutive top-two finishes. The all-time best top-two streak is 11, by Richard Petty. Here's a look at how they compare.
At age 19, Chase will attempt to qualify for first Sprint Cup race Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Think about this for a moment: Chase Elliott , son of the ever-popular Bill Elliott , will attempt to make his Sprint Cup Series debut at Martinsville Speedway , a track steeped in history and tradition, for Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Not only does he need to qualify for the race, but Elliott also will need to do it without having the benefit of much time spent in a Sprint Cup Series seat. And if that's not enough, if he qualifies for the race -- which is expected to be attended by none other than Richard Petty -- Elliott will do so at a younger age than Jeff Gordon did in 1992. Throughout his short history as a national series driver, Elliott has shown an unflappable, even-keel approach en route to such heights as last season's XFINITY Series title. But if any weekend were to test his Zen-like calm, who could blame him if this were the one? "If I wasn't nervous come this weekend, then I'd think something was wrong with me," Elliott said. "I think that should be the case. With as much excitement as this weekend brings I think you're going to have some nerves to go along with it. I'm looking forward to experiencing both of those sensations." If his nerves indeed need some calming, then Elliott can go to bat knowing he will have Gordon on his side. Jeff just happens to be tied with HMS teammate Jimmie Johnson for the most Cup wins at the track with eight, so it's not like he's coming at Chase with a blank slate. "I think for me, Jeff will probably be the guy I lean on most this weekend," Elliott said. "One, our car is being prepared out of the 24 and 5 shop. Just to be familiar with that group of guys and how they do things, I think that only makes sense to kind of lean on those guys more than anybody else with the plans for next year. Last time I checked, Jeff had run a handful of races at Martinsville; I feel like he'll have some good information and a lot to be learned talking to him." Elliott said he hasn't driven a Cup car since January of 2014, and most of that experience was at Nashville Superspeedway, a 1.33-mile concrete track that was used for testing. Plus, in the time since Elliott drove a Cup car, a lot has changed thanks to the 2015 rules package. Add in the fact that Elliott will be working with crew chief Kenny Francis for the first time, and there are a lot of challenges he'll be facing beyond just the normal task of driving on a tough, tight 0.526-mile track. But besides having Gordon and the entire HMS team on his side, Elliott also has the benefit of it being a break in the XFINITY Series schedule. Therefore, he can concentrate on the very tall task at hand. But as one might expect, his own expectations for his first Cup race sound pretty reasonable. "Hopefully, for me, I just want to execute all weekend and put together a solid week," Elliott said. "I think for us, if we can run all the laps and stay on the lead lap and battle to run in the top 15, I feel like that's a great day to shoot for. I feel like that's possible and that would be a really good day." Of course, if he does something more than that, then it could add to the track's already thick history. It's a history that will be on the young driver's mind. "I think back of all the times I've gone to Martinsville to watch my dad race," Elliott said. "Even not that long ago. Weird to think I'm going to go run a Cup race and not be watching. ... Such a great opportunity and I want to make the most of it." Senior writer Holly Cain contributed to this report. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule