While past races at Martinsville don’t always dictate future success, drivers aren’t lacking confidence heading into the weekend.
Brett Moffitt, who is the youngest winner in the Speedway’s storied history and has four wins on the season, is looking to improve on his third place finish in the spring.
“We had a good run at Martinsville in the spring and I think we’ve improved our short-track program since then,” Moffitt said. “This is one of the most important races in the Playoffs since it’s the first chance we have to advance directly to Homestead if we can win. It would be nice to close to the deal on Saturday and guarantee ourselves to be one of the final four. Martinsville is a tough place to win and a difficult place to seal the deal. The racing is so physical and aggressive, and there’s a lot at stake this weekend. We’ll have a strong AISIN Group, AW North Carolina Tundra and try to play offense all weekend.”
Defending race winner Noah Gragson, who sits third in points, said last fall’s win gives him confidence heading into the weekend.
“Having that grandfather clock gives me a lot of motivation going into the future of my career and I feel like I’m a much more experience driver than last fall,” Gragson said. “Martinsville sticks out in my mind as a place I can get it done. It’s definitely a confidence booster going in and seeing ads for the race coming up at Martinsville with me in them. That’s really cool to see and gets me pumped up.”
In 2016 Johnny Sauter rode a Martinsville win to the Championship. The veteran racer now finds himself atop the points standings and said he has learned from past experiences when it comes to getting around the Half-Mile of Mayhem.
“I don’t know if it’s confidence or just that I’ve been there and seen every scenario play out. That’s a race where you can be minding your own business and get caught up in somebody else’s mess pretty quick,” Sauter said. “Martinsville is a tough little place, everything can be going your way then something throws a wrench in your plans. That’s a racetrack where I feel like you race the racetrack all day, take care of your stuff, then hope you’ve got something left with 50 laps to go.”
Grant Enfinger finished fourth at Martinsville in the Spring and is looking to see the intensity ratcheted up a notch this weekend.
“Martinsville is always exciting, and with it being a playoff race, that’s going to make it even better,” Enfinger said. “It’s a true short track, and it’s a track where there can be big shakeups because attrition takes its toll there.”
The Texas Roadhouse 200 is this Saturday.
If a Playoff driver wins the race, he will be the first to claim a spot in the Championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Tickets are on sale now and are $35. Youth 17-and-under are free.