Another Heralded Rookie Class Ready to Tackle Martinsville

The rookies are ready for the STP 500.
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The flag won’t be the only thing that’s green when the STP 500 starts at Martinsville Speedway on April 2. For the second year in a row, a heralded class of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year candidates will take to the historic half-mile speedway for the first time.

The track isn’t unfamiliar to Erik Jones, Ty Dillon and Daniel Suarez, as all three have tackled NASCAR’s only remaining original track in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the past.

“It’s been a rough track for me,” Jones said. “I’ve only run there in a truck. I ran third there one year, which was great for us and I’ve had some decent runs going, but it’s a tough track for me. Probably one of the tougher ones that we go to.”

Dillon seemed a little more optimistic when talking about returning to Martinsville.

“I’m looking forward to getting back,” he said. “I love that speedway. I love the track. It’s going to be fun. I’ve run well there in the truck series in the past, but it’s been a couple of years since I’ve raced there.”

However, neither Jones nor Dillon were nearly as enthusiastic as Suarez when asked about racing in the first short track race of the season.

“I think Martinsville is going to be a super cool place to race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series,” he said. “It is a lot of fun. It’s very, very intense and aggressive racing.”

If the drivers are looking for advice, one group they may want to steer clear of is last year’s crop of rookies.

Chase Elliott, the defending Rookie-of-the-Year, said he is still looking for help himself.

“I am not the person to ask about Martinsville,” Elliott said. “I have had struggle beyond struggle there. That’s a place that I have just not have been able to figure out at all. I hope that I can improve upon that this year.

However, he also said that this talented group won’t need his help even if he could offer it.

“The rookie class is filled with good racers,” he said. “So they don’t need my help. They’ll be just fine.”

Chris Buescher, the only rookie to win a race last year, feels the same as Elliott when comes to giving tips on Martinsville, but he did drop one piece of knowledge that was told to him, last year.

“Shoot,” Buescher said. “I’m still looking for advice myself on that one.

“The best advice I got that I’ll try to pass on is to give a little space on the initial start. It bunches up quick.”

While the iconic grandfather clock trophy is always the ultimate goal of any driver who races at Martinsville, this class of rookies has tempered expectations heading into the race.

“My goal is to run all of the laps and finish on the lead lap and get a great finish,” Dillon said. “We’ve just got to finish that race and I think we will have a great finish if we do.”

Jones shared a similar goal.

“My goal: if we can finish on the lead lap and make it out of there without getting wrecked, I’d be a pretty happy guy,” he said.

For Suarez the goal was a little less specific.

“I think racing in the Cup series is going to be very cool and I just hope we can do it the right way” he said.

Racing returns to Martinsville Speedway March 31-April 2.

This year the historic track celebrates its 70th anniversary.

 

The weekend starts on Friday with Virginia Lottery Pole Day and continues on Saturday with the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race.

 

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be in action on Sunday with the running of the STP 500.

 

Ticket prices start at $45 and tickets in the Bill France Tower are $50.

Ticket prices increase the week of the race.

 

The race is the first short-track race of the season and marks the series’ return to the east coast after the “West Coast Swing.”

 

Last year Kyle Busch became the first driver in the tracks storied history to win both the Truck and Premier Series races in the same weekend.

 

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.

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PO Box 3311
Martinsville, VA 24115
www.martinsvillespeedway.com/
1-877-RACE-TIX
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