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Martinsville Advance



Event Overview

 

●  Event:  Cook Out 400 (Round 8 of 36)

●  Time/Date:  3 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 7

●  Location:  Martinsville (Va.) Speedway

●  Layout:  .526-mile oval

●  Laps/Miles:  400 laps/210.4 miles

●  Stage Lengths:  Stage 1: 80 laps / Stage 2: 100 laps / Final Stage: 220 laps

●  TV/Radio:  FS1 / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

    

Notes of Interest

 

●  The NASCAR Cup Series’ short-track attack resumes with a second straight race in Virginia, and Chase Briscoe is eyeing improvement after finishing 18th last Sunday at the .75-mile Richmond Raceway. Martinsville Speedway is next up for the driver of the No. 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford Mustang Dark Horse for Stewart-Haas Racing, and the .526-mile oval has been the site of a streak of front-running consistency for Briscoe that has improved each time he has turned a wheel on the paperclip-shaped bullring.

 

●  Sunday’s Cook Out 400 at Martinsville will mark Briscoe’s seventh career NASCAR Cup Series start at the venerable track. Since his Cup Series debut at Martinsville in April 2021, when he finished 27th, Briscoe had made steady and significant improvement. He finished 22nd in his return to Martinsville in October 2021 and has not finished outside of the top-10 in his last four Martinsville starts, finishing ninth (April 2022), ninth (October 2022), fifth (April 2023) and fourth (October 2023).

 

●  Briscoe’s best Martinsville race as a NASCAR Cup Series driver came last April when he finished fifth. He started fourth and took the lead on lap 186 and paced the field for the next 71 laps. A series of green-flag pit stops jumbled the running order, but Briscoe came back to take the lead on lap 307 and he stayed out front for another 38 laps to bring his laps-led total for the race to 109, second only to his Stewart-Haas teammate Ryan Preece, who led 135 laps.

 

●  Briscoe has three other Martinsville starts outside of the NASCAR Cup Series – one in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and two in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Briscoe finished seventh in his lone Xfinity Series start at Martinsville in October 2020, and in his two Truck Series starts at the track, both taking place in 2017, Briscoe finished 11th (April) and 19th (October).

 

●  Briscoe won the pole for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville in October 2017. He promptly led the first 39 laps and was a front-running fixture until he was collected in an accident on lap 138 of the 200-lap race. The winner that day was Noah Gragson, Briscoe’s current teammate at Stewart-Haas.

 

●  Mahindra Ag North America is in its third year as the anchor sponsor for Briscoe and the No. 14 team after extending its partnership with Stewart-Haas during the offseason. The multiyear agreement with the NASCAR team co-owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart and industrialist Gene Haas continues to feature Mahindra Tractors, a brand of Mahindra Ag North America, on Briscoe’s No. 14 Ford Mustang for the majority of the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Houston-based Mahindra Ag North America is part of Mahindra Group’s Automotive and Farm Sector, the No. 1 selling farm tractor company in the world, based on volumes across all company brands. Mahindra offers a range of tractor models from 20-75 horsepower, implements, and the ROXOR heavy-duty UTV. Mahindra farm equipment is engineered to be easy to operate by first-time tractor or side-by-side owners and heavy duty to tackle the tough jobs of rural living, farming and ranching. Steel-framed Mahindra Tractors and side-by-sides are ideal for customers who demand performance, reliability and comfort. Mahindra dealers are independent, family-owned businesses located throughout the U.S. and Canada.

 

Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford Mustang Dark Horse

 

You come into Martinsville with four straight top-10 finishes at the track. In fact, in each of your last four races there, you’ve gotten better – ninth, ninth, fifth and fourth – and you led 109 laps in last year’s spring race. Talk about your progression at Martinsville and how you’ve gotten better there with each race.

“I feel like Martinsville is one of those places where the more you run there, the better you’re going to get. It’s such a unique racetrack. It seems like guys, once they figure it out, they’re always good there. You look at Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon and people like that, it’s one of those place where once you figure it out, it seems like your technique always works there. We’ve been really good at Martinsville every time we’ve gone there over the last two years, and have probably done everything but win the race, it seems like. We’ve led a ton of laps and things like that, so hopefully this will be the time we can improve on our recent finishes – ninth, ninth, fifth, fourth – hopefully we can finish better, but would love to obviously bring home a grandfather clock. It’s one of the more iconic trophies and we’ve been really close and almost close enough to where we could see it – see where we want to put it, we just haven’t been able to put it there, yet.”

 

How physical is a race at Martinsville? You’re on the brakes hard at least 800 times, so your lower body gets a workout as much as your upper body.

“It’s really hard. I probably didn’t realize how hard it was until the last time we were there in the fall. For whatever reason after the race, I couldn’t even bend over to take my shoes off. I had to have my wife help me because my back was in so much pain from all the braking we were doing. It’s a really hard place to run, and even mentally it’s a place where you’ve got to be on your game. So Martinsville is probably overlooked a lot of the time, the physicality of it, just because the speeds and the G-forces are what we would have at other places. There’s a lot that goes on with your body at those races so you definitely feel it the next day. Martinsville’s definitely gotten a little more challenging with the NextGen car because, before, you would leave it in fourth gear and just run the whole time in fourth. Now, we’re downshifting every single corner, and then upshifting down the straightaway, so you’re just busier inside the racecar. It definitely has made Martinsville more physical overall. Your arms are getting more of a workout, your feet are doing a lot more with the pedals and things like that, so there’s just a lot going on at Martinsville in a very short lap.”

 

When you have a race that’s as physical as Martinsville, how does the simulator help prepare you?

“The sim’s really hard at Martinsville. It seems like the shorter the racetrack is, the harder it is sometimes to manage the simulator. Really flat tracks and really, really high-banked tracks sometimes throw it for a little bit of a loop. But I will say I feel like we’ve done a really good job over the last year trying to make our Martinsville simulator better, in general. I think that is some of the reason why we’ve seen us have success on the real racetrack, as well. Martinsville’s a hard one just because there are so many variables that go into it. The weather is always really important there with how the rubber gets laid down. At that racetrack, just where the rubber is laid down and things like that really change the grip level. That’s what makes the simulator so challenging there.”

 

When it comes to on-track contact at Martinsville, what’s OK and what isn’t?

“It’s hard to say until you’re in it. It’s hard for me to say this would be OK, or this wouldn’t be OK. Once you’re in the moment, you kind of make up your mind as soon as it happens what you’re going to do to somebody else. It’s one of those deals where if you’re getting held up by a guy time and time and time again, you finally just kind of get fed up with it and you go and move him and go on. I feel like early in the race you try to give him at least a little bit of the benefit of the doubt, but anymore, it’s so hard to pass that as soon as you get to him, you try to move him and go on. It’s definitely evolved a lot over the last couple of years with the NextGen car.”

 

When do you need to just let something go and when do you need to stand up for yourself and give a shot back?

“I think it’s different for everybody. I don’t ever really get worked up, but I think there are some drivers who get worked up and just go ballistic, and that’s when it’s better if you just let it go and forget about it. You see some guys where somebody does them wrong early in the race, it just derails their whole race because they’re more worried about getting that guy back than just trying to run their race. I think it’s different for everybody. Everybody’s personalities and attitudes are so different that it’s a different answer for all. For me, it’s hard to say what you’ve got to do. If somebody does you wrong, you definitely have to get them back at some point just to stand up for yourself because, if you don’t do it and you let somebody walk all over you on the racetrack, they’re just going to do it time and time again because they know you’re not going to do anything about, so you have to stand your ground.”

 

How challenging is pit road at Martinsville, from navigating the curves, the tight boxes and all the traffic?

“Martinsville’s hard. It’s just so narrow on pit road and there’s not a whole lot of room. It’s always hard when you’re leaving your pit box there just because there are normally cars coming around on the outside line. It’s only two lanes wide, in general, so then you’re in the inside lane while those other pit crews are trying to change the right-side tires and it’s really, really tight. And just with how slow the speed is, the RPM change is very, very tight, and that’s why you see so many speeding penalties at a place like Martinsville.”


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