MARTINSVILLE, Va. – From rookies without a lap on the track to tried and true veterans, 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers spent 10 hours testing at Martinsville Speedway Tuesday in preparation for the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 Powered by Kroger on Oct. 27.
They were all searching for the same thing: that one little extra millisecond that would improve their performance at the half-mile oval in 19 days.
“We’ve learned a few things. Just trying to figure out a few dos and don’ts today,” said veteran driver Greg Biffle. “The things that worked in the spring don’t always work in the fall, so it’s good that we are back here testing.”
For 21-year-old Kyle Larson, who had never seen Martinsville Speedway before Tuesday, the test was of ultimate importance. The Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 Powered by Kroger will be just his second-ever Sprint Cup start.
“We’re mainly working on getting through the center (of the turns) and getting good drive off,” Larson said of the test that ran from about 8:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. “I’ve never been to a track with the long straights and tight corners like this. We’ve got pretty good on the long runs. We’re not the fastest, but not the slowest either. We’ve got to get a little better, but I think we’ll be OK for race weekend.”
David Ragan and his Front Row Motorsports team wasn’t worried nearly as much about speed on Tuesday as they were on trying new things that would make them faster in a few weeks.
“Of course we never accomplish everything we want to in a test unless the track lets us line up and throw the green flag. For us, though, we want to change some of the bigger items today that we don’t have time to work with on race weekend. Suspension parts and pieces, brake parts and pieces,” said Ragan. “Tomorrow we’ll work on handling and more race stuff.
“Today has been perfect. The weather has been perfect, the track has rubbered in good. We couldn’t ask for anything better.
Joining Biffle, Larsen and Ragan Tuesday were Biffle’s Roush Fenway Racing teammates Carl Edwards, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.; Richard Childress Racing drivers Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard and Jeff Burton; Penske Racing drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano; and Furniture Row driver Kurt Busch.
There were also a handful of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers on hand, including Ross Chastain and Ryan Blaney with Brad Keslowski Racing and Ben Kennedy, who will be making only his third truck series start, with Turner-Scott Motorsports.
All the teams will return Wednesday for a second day of testing. Grandstands will be open at no charge all day.