Ford Performance NASCAR: Martinsville Advance

FORD PERFORMANCE NASCAR: MARTINSVILLE 1 NOTES

Ford Performance has won at Martinsville Speedway 26 times overall and as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series prepares for the first of two visits to the half-mile oval, the standings show five Ford drivers holding down spots in the Top 10.  Team Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are fourth and fifth, respectively, with Wood Brothers Racing driver Ryan Blaney seventh.  Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick are eighth and ninth, respectively.  Here’s a look at some of Ford’s highlight victories at this week’s tour stop.

A FIRST FOR FRED

The first time Ford won a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway also marked the first career victory for 2015 NASCAR Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen.  The date was April 9, 1961 and Lorenzen battled Rex White, who led the first 118 laps after starting on the pole.  Lorenzen, driving for Holman-Moody at the time, grabbed the lead on lap 119 and held it until rain came ending the race prematurely after 149 circuits.  Little did anyone know that 54 years later both men would be enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the same induction class.  Martinsville was a place Lorenzen dominated, winning six times, including four straight from 1963-65.  He was absolutely unbeatable in 1964 as he led 990 out of a possible 1,000 laps (487 in the first and 493 in the second) in winning both races.

THE KING REIGNS

Richard Petty holds the record for most Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins at Martinsville with 15, including a sweep of both events in 1969.  That marked the only year ‘The King’ drove a Ford, which ended with him winning nine times overall and finishing second to David Pearson in the championship standings.

CRAVEN WINS FIRST CUP RACE

Ricky Craven outlasted Dale Jarrett over the final laps to post the first victory of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career on Oct. 15, 2001 at Martinsville Speedway.  Pit strategy played a key role in this race as Jarrett opted for four tires on his final stop while Craven just got two.  That enabled Craven to build a lead following the ensuing restart with 17 to go, but Jarrett gained ground and found himself in position to win on the final lap.  That’s when Jarrett went to the outside going into turn one and got side-by-side with Craven coming off turn two.  Both Fords made contact door-to-door entering turn three, but Craven emerged off four with the advantage and took the checkered flag.

RUDD ROUGHS IT OUT

No driver displayed more toughness during his career than Ricky Rudd and that was evident again in 1998 when the Virginia native endured burns on his backside to win the NAPA Autocare 500 on Sept. 27.  On a day that saw temperatures in the mid-nineties, Rudd found himself in a bad way just five laps into the race when his cooling unit failed.  As the cockpit got hotter he asked to have a relief driver standing by, so Hut Stricklin was in the pit area ready to takeover.  Ice packs helped momentarily, but his back was blistering so the team tried to cool him off with a hose.  Unfortunately, the hose they used had been lying in the sun, so when they doused him the first time the water was hot.  That method worked better on later stops, but in the end it was Rudd who toughed it out and led the final 96 laps to win and extend his streak to 16 consecutive seasons with at least one Monster Energy NASCAR Cup win.

BUSCH BEATS BENSON

The last time Ford went to victory lane at Martinsville Speedway was on Oct. 20, 2002 with Kurt Busch and crew chief Jimmy Fennig.  Busch set a track record for winning from the furthest starting position after taking the green flag in 36th place.  It took him all day to eventually get to the front of the field, but he took the lead on lap 389 and surrendered it for only one lap to Johnny Benson the rest of the way in posting his second career win.  Benson was all over Busch’s bumper in the closing laps as lap traffic created plenty of drama, but Busch was able to weave his way through and take the checkered flag.

FORD WINNERS AT MARTINSVILLE

6 – Fred Lorenzen (1961,’63,’64*,’65,’66)

4 – Rusty Wallace (1994*,’95,’96)

3 – Geoffrey Bodine (1990*,’92)

2 – Richard Petty (1969*)

2 – Ricky Rudd (1986,’98)

2 – Mark Martin (1992, 2000)

1 – Nelson Stacy (1962)

1 – Junior Johnson (1965)

1 – Ernie Irvan (1993)

1 – Jeff Burton (1997)

1 – Dale Jarrett (2001)

1 – Ricky Craven (2001)

1 – Kurt Busch (2002)

* Denotes season sweep