There are 33 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour teams at Martinsville and 16 Southern Tour teams in attendance.
Three drivers who had run the full season in the south to this point, are not entered this weekend. Those drivers are Jay Hedgecock, John Sutton and Lee Jeffreys.
The top 25 in Northern Tour points were all accounted for at Martinsville. Notable drivers outside the top 25 who did not make the trip included Renee Dupuis, Dennis Charette and the Pasteryaks (Uncle Carl and his nephew Chris).
NASCAR MODIFIEDS: MARTINSVILLE FRIDAY PRACTICE NOTES By Mike Twist
Rain, Rain, It Goes Away; Martinsville Newbies and More
ERNESTO CAN’T STOP PRACTICE
There were a total of 49 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and Whelen Southern Modified Tour teams were on hand for practice and qualifying to prepare for Saturday night’s Whelen Made in America 300.
Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Tropical Depression Ernesto did his best to try and rain on their parade in Martinsville, but he didn’t really succeed. The skies were gray and it was rainy much of the day at the track, but practice was only delayed 24 minutes by the weather.
The track might have still a little bit tricky to get around though. Within the first 10 minutes of practice, both Gene Pack and Zach Sylvester had solo spins in the turn one and two portion of the track. Both drivers avoided hitting anything, or being hit, and rolled on after brief caution periods.
All 49 cars in the pit area took laps during the session and Todd Szegedy was the quickest of the bunch with a lap of 18.846 seconds. He was followed on the speed charts by Ruggiero Ruggiero, Mike Stefanik, Tony Hirschman and Donny Lia.
Bobby Hutchins was the quickest Southern Modified driver in the session.
Other notables in practice were defending Martinsville winner Ted Christopher in 14th, Chuck Hossfeld in 16th, Eric Beers in 17th and defending Southern Modified champion Junior Miller in 18th.
Zach Sylvester sits spun on the track with his #15 as Jay Foley (#57) barely squeeks by. (Top). Gene Pack spun within the first two minutes of practice. (Bottom). (51 Photos)
With the Martinsville race being a combination event between the Mod Tour and Southern Mod Tour, there were a few conflicts when it came to car numbers. Ironically, both involved the Myers Brothers from North Carolina.
Burt Myers has the #1 on the Southern Tour and Rob Summers shares that number up North. Myers kept his number, while Summers is running the #01 this weekend.
Meanwhile, Jason Myers had to sacrifice his usual #4 to Jerry Marquis’ Mystic Missile entry. Myers renumbered his ride with the #74.
BAD START TO THE WEEKEND
Things didn't get started on the right foot for Kevin Goodale's #58 team at Martinsville. After several inches of rain drenched the track on Thursday night and Friday morning, Goodale's hauler got stuck in the mud in the parking lot. It took a few track forklifts and one heavy-duty tow truck to get the rig freed.
With all of the rookies this season on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, there were quite a few first timers who hit the track this afternoon at Martinsville. A few of those newbies shared their first impressions with Speed51.com.
“It’s a pretty neat track,” said Jon McKennedy. “It’s real narrow and tight. You use a lot of brake, it’s kind of like a paperclip with tight corners and long straightaways. It’s a little bit similar to Stafford, but a little bit tighter.”
This was McKennedy’s first trip to Martinsville in person.
“I thought that the track was a lot flatter,” said McKennedy. “It looks a lot bigger on TV. When I actually got here, I found that it had more banking and was smaller than I expected.”
Meanwhile, Matt Hirschman had been going to the track for years. He served as his father Tony’s co-crew chief here last season, but Friday was his first time behind the wheel at the Virginia oval.
“It’s kind of like what I expected,” said Hirschman. “There wasn’t anything surprising. It seems like it will be hard to pass, but we’ll see.”
Even though in is a half-mile in length, Hirschman thinks of the track as an oversized bullring.
“I really wouldn’t consider this a big track as slow as the corners are,” said Hirschman. “It feels like you go faster at Stafford or Thompson than you do here. It’s got long straightaways, but slow, tight corners. I like it though. I like them all. There isn’t one track that I don’t like, I just want to race.”
JOHN-LESS AT MARTINSVILLE
One of the hottest drivers on the Modified Tour, John Blewett, III, is not at Martinsville. The New Jersey driver, who won two events this summer on the Tour, is running for the track championship at Wall Township Raceway (NJ) and will be racing there Saturday night.
Martinsville isn’t entirely Blewett-less though. John’s younger brother Jimmy is on hand with the TS Haulers #12 team. He was 12th quickest in practice.
Jerry Marquis got to keep his #4, while Jason Myers had to change his to a #74.
Matt Hirschman sits by his mount in the garage area.