SPARTA, Ky. – Mark Martin never has competed in a race at Kentucky Speedway, but the NASCAR veteran still considers himself ready for Saturday’s Quaker State 400, the track’s inaugural Sprint Cup Series event. As part of their preparation, Martin and crew chief Lance McGrew notably took advantage of a Goodyear tire test at the 1.5-mile racetrack on June 1.
“Any time you get on the track, it’s a big help,” said Martin, who will drive the No. 5 Quaker State/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet this weekend. “I’ve tested at Kentucky before. This team has tested there before. But testing there and knowing you’re going to race on that specific track is different. It will be a help to us; a good starting point. But, really when you throw in all of the testing time that all of the teams will get on Thursday, it will even out a little. That’s a lot of time on the track for everyone, and I think that will prove to be most valuable.”
Along with Thursday’s test session, Martin will be able to score some extra time on the track when he competes in Friday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series event. Martin will pilot the No. 32 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet. He has competed in the car three times this year, scoring one win and three top-10 finishes.
“Mark racing Friday night is definitely going to help us for Saturday,” McGrew said. “He’ll have the opportunity to move around on the racetrack and really see what driving lines work for him. With that extra time on the track, under race conditions, he’ll also have a better idea of how the track will rubber up and how wide the racing groove will be for Saturday night. We’ll definitely talk Friday night and take some of what he learned and apply it to the Cup car.”
Experience isn’t the only thing on Martin’s side. He has finished sixth or better in the two inaugural events in which he’s competed. Most recently, Martin started 18th in the race and led 20 laps en route to a sixth-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in 2001. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has one win in an inaugural Cup race under his belt from his 1998 victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Watch Mark Martin and the No. 5 team compete in the 400-mile Cup event Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT.