Denny Hamlin is making a special appearance this weekend at Martinsville Speedway – in the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 Air Jordan Toyota Tundra during Saturday’s Kroger 200 Camping World Truck Series race. Virginia-native Hamlin joins KBM Truck Series regulars Joey Coulter and Darrell Wallace Jr. at his home track, where he is the two-time defending October race winner in the Truck Series.
Hamlin led a race-high 88 laps at Martinsville in 2011 – his first Truck Series win – but led only the final five laps in his 2012 win. He has six total wins at Martinsville, including four Cup Series victories.
“I think that running the Truck Series race provides you with a little bit of information that you can take over to the Cup car on Sunday,” said Hamlin on the KBM website. “The biggest thing I would say with the Truck Series race at Martinsville is how the tires wear and how the track rubbers down. When you run a Nationwide Series race, you typically have more of the Cup guys that are also running – Kyle (Busch), Joey (Logano), Brad (Keselowski) and Kasey (Kahne) usually run a lot of them – where in the Truck Series race I think that Kevin (Harvick) is the only other Cup guy racing Saturday. I’m sure that other guys – drivers and crew chiefs – will be paying close attention to the race and seeing what the track does and how tires wear, but I’ll be able to experience it firsthand and share what I learn with Darian (Grubb) Saturday night after the race.”
Coulter, in the No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Tundra, has five races at Martinsville on his resume, with very different results by season: in the spring races, his average finish is 20.7; in the fall, 4.0.
“I really think that it’s just coincidence that the stats worked out like that,” said Coulter. “I think if there is any magic to it, we just seem to have more momentum at the end of the year than we do at the beginning. Temperatures are about the same during those times of the year, so I don’t think that has much to do with it.”
Wallace Jr., in the No. 54 ToyotaCare Tundra at Martinsville, qualified on the outside pole and finished fifth in his first race at Martinsville in March.
“We have a little better package than we did last time and we’re looking to finish better as well,” said Wallace Jr. “It’s good that we have these next four races in a row and can stay on top of things. I’m excited to go back to Martinsville Speedway where we ran good in the Spring and definitely had a shot at the win. We will be a lot better this time around. It’s good to go back to Martinsville where I’ve always loved racing and it’s treated me well. If we can better our finish and finally knock a win off our list, we’ll be all right. I’m feeling confident and still pumped and ready to get there.”
Qualifying for the Kroger 200 takes place Friday at 5 p.m. ET, with the race going green Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET. Keep up with the action at www.nascar.com and www.kylebuschmotorsports.com.
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