When it comes to preparation for the Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions on October 28 at Martinsville Speedway, many young Camping World Truck Series Drivers look outside their organizations for tips and tricks on how to master driving at the notorious half-mile Speedway.
For drivers at Brad Keselowski Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports, however, that advice can come straight from the top as both organizations are owned by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winners at Martinsville.
Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch both agreed that tips can only take a driver so far, with Keselowski comparing the learning process to getting ready for prom.
“There’s a little bit you can help them out with at a track like Martinsville, but it’s really like teaching someone how to dance,” Keselowski said. “You can teach them a few of the steps, but eventually they have to pick up the rhythm and the pace. Those guys are real sharp, they’ll figure it out.”
For Busch, it’s more a matter of understanding the language of short-track racing, something he said he struggled with when asking five-time Martinsville winner Denny Hamlin questions early in his career.
“I think I can help (truck drivers) out quite a bit. They have to be able to understand what I’m saying and the lingo of getting around Martinsville,” Busch said. “When Denny talked to me when I first came to Joe Gibbs Racing it was difficult to understand what he was saying, but following him around more and more it was easier to understand. You can listen to somebody but it might take a couple times figuring it out.”
Brad Keselowski Racing driver Chase Briscoe, who comes from a dirt-racing background, said that getting laps under his belt is the key to success, but help along the way from his team owner and others is crucial, as well.
“Brad’s really good about giving any advice we need, but at the same time there is that difference in driving style. Brad’s always the first guy I reach out to, but I’ll get as many opinions as I can,” Briscoe said. “Knowing how to race at Martinsville and how to be consciously aggressive is important. You have to know when to block and when a guy is there so you don’t get spun out.”
Briscoe’s teammate, Austin Cindric, echoed those sentiments.
“Brad (Keselowski) is a great guy to have a phone call away. He’s got a lot of experience and he is a great resource for Chase and I to use for advice,” Cindric said. “At Martinsville, if you’re not passing someone, you’re getting passed and if you’re not hitting someone, you’re getting hit. You have to be the guy making passes.”
Kyle Busch Motorsports’ youngest driver this year, Harrison Burton, will be fresh off his 17th birthday when he arrives in Martinsville for the Texas Roadhouse 200. He said that Busch has helped him learn the nuances of Martinsville, but pointed the finger at himself when asked for the key to success at the Speedway.
“You always have to look at yourself and see how you can get better,” Burton said. “It’s a huge help to have Kyle as a team owner, he is one of the most talented drivers in the sport. When you have someone like that at your disposal it’s good to use that, especially as good as he has been at Martinsville. He’s helped me a lot, but he can only get you 25% of the way there. You’ve got to go find the other 75% out there on the track yourself and find out what works for you.”
In the case of NEMCO Motorsports driver John Hunter Nemechek, whose father Joe has competed at Martinsville in multiple divisions in NASCAR, the tables were turned this spring. After John Hunter spent a few races picking Joe’s brain, it was the father coming to the son for advice.
“He’s been a huge help to my career and sped up my learning curve,” John Hunter said. “But, it was funny at the spring race, he ran in the truck race and he was asking me questions instead of me asking him. The roles had kind of turned.”
All of the youngsters will be looking to put the information they gather on “how to dance” at Martinsville Speedway to good use on October 28 for the Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions, which is the first race in the second round of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. Last year, Johnny Sauter won the race, on his way to winning the series championship.
Kids 12-and-under are admitted free to the Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions.Adult tickets to the race are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.