Dale Junior is Back for NASCAR at Martinsville
Weekend Preview: Tums Fast Relief 500
After a caution-filled Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas last week, the Sprint Cup Series drivers will run their 2nd race of the 2012 season at Martinsville Speedway. The track, which ran its first race in 1949, will be holding its 128th race this weekend. Sunday’s race will also be the 7th race of the “Chase for the Championship.”After 2 weeks out of the race car, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be making his return to the driver’s seat for this weekend’s race. In preparation for this weekend’s return to the track on Monday, Earnhardt ran 123 laps during a test session at Gresham Motorsports Park. “He hasn’t had a headache since October 12th and we have not been able to provoke any symptoms since that time. I have informed NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports that he is medically cleared for all NASCAR-related activity,” says Charlotte neurosurgeon Jerry Petty.
James Finch, owner of the #51 Sprint Cup Series team, announced his driver line-up for the remainder of the season on Tuesday. Finch told Fox Sports that A.J. Allmendinger and Regan Smith will split the driving duties for the last 4 races of the season.
Allmendinger will be behind the wheel for this weekend’s race at Martinsville as well as next week at Texas. Regan Smith will drive the #51 car for the last 2 races of the season.
This is a milestone week for Roush Fenway Racing owner Jack Roush, whose organization celebrates its 3,000th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start in Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500. Roush’s Ford team made its series debut on Feb. 14, 1988, when Mark Martin finished 41st in the Daytona 500. Since then, Roush has celebrated 130 victories including last weekend in Kansas.
Goodyear will be bringing the same tire combination for both the Sprint Cup Series and Camping World Truck Series this weekend at Martinsville. This is the same compound that teams have run in their last 2 races at the track. Goodyear had a tire test for the 2013 cars at Martinsville back in August.
If you are interested in buying a fully equipped Sprint Cup Series team, now is your chance. Gavel Auctions is scheduled to hold a public auction of the complete assets from the #49 Robinson-Blakeney/American Israel team on October 30th. Items for auction include race cars, engines, haulers, pit road boxes and more. The #49 team attempted races earlier in the season with driver, JJ Yeley.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s #88 Chevrolet will have a lot less green next year both financially and sponsor wise. Dale Jr. and his #88 team are losing 15 races of sponsorship in 2013 as PepsiCo plans to reduce their sponsorship of the team. PepsiCo is working on a $10 million deal with Hendrick Motorsports that would include five races annually with Earnhardt (Diet Mountain Dew and Amp), two races with Jeff Gordon (Pepsi) and one with Kasey Kahne. Hendrick Motorsports is actively searching for a sponsor to fill the 15 race void for Earnhardt’s team.
Earlier this week, Stewart-Haas Racing announced their 2013 crew chief line up. Tony Gibson, the current crew chief for Ryan Newman’s #39 team will be transferring to the #10 team of Danica Patrick. Ryan Newman will be reunited with a past crew chief and one with whom he had much success, Matt Borland. Borland served as Newman’s crew chief for five years when the two were together at Penske Racing. During the 5 year period they were together, the combination earned 12 wins and 37 poles. Borland, who currently is the vice president of competition for Stewart-Haas racing will get a head start on 2013 as he becomes Newman’s crew chief beginning this weekend at Martinsville.
Series points leader, Brad Keselowski will once again be bringing a new chassis to the track for this weekend’s race at Martinsville. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be welcomed with a familiar car this weekend as he races the same chassis for the 5th Martinsville race in a row. In the last 4 races, Earnhardt has an average finish of 4th with this chassis. Newman, who won the April race is my pick for this weekend’s race. Look for Newman and Matt Borland to make a triumphant return in this weekend’s race.
Tune into Sunday’s coverage of the Tum’s Fast Relief 500 beginning at 11:30 AM on WBKR & WBKR.com. If you won tickets from WBKR for this weekend’s race, be sure to share your pictures and race experience with us!
– Blake Smith