RICHMOND, Va. – Mark Martin is looking forward to making his 51st NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career start under the lights Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.
“It’s a great little short track,” said Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. “It’s small, but it has a lot racing room out there. There are multiple grooves, and it really lends itself to some great side-by-side racing and awesome finishes. Racing at night is always good, too. I think it throws in a little extra excitement.”
However, the added thrill factor and tight schedule at Richmond create more challenges for crew chief Lance McGrew as the team prepares for the 400-lap race under the lights.
“Practicing during the day and racing at night does present quite a challenge,” McGrew said. “The biggest obstacle is the track temperature. As the track temperature increases, the available grip on the asphalt decreases so the car just doesn’t have the grip that it had with a cooler track. It always seems to react differently. That’s why we rely on track history and driver comments from previous years to help make our prerace adjustment decisions.”
In addition to historical data, McGrew will rely this weekend upon Martin, a veteran driver who, during the last 12 races, has gained more positions during the last 10 percent of laps at Richmond than any other Sprint Cup competitor. On average, Martin has gained 2.5 positions in the final 40 laps at each Richmond race for a total of 30 spots in those 12 races.
In addition to being the top closer at the raceway, Martin also holds the track record for most top-five finishes among all active drivers. In his 50 previous starts at the 0.75-mile oval, Martin has earned one win, 17 top-five finishes and 27 top-10s.
This season’s ninth NASCAR Sprint Cup event will air Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX.