MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Yes, the addition of 1,600 feet of SAFER barrier on the frontstretch and backstretch at Martinsville Speedway has narrowed the racing surface by roughly 30 inches on the straights.
JTG/Daugherty Racing driver AJ Allmendinger felt the difference almost immediately, putting a “Martinsville stripe” on the side of his No. 47 Chevy during Friday’s opening practice.
Running his car at the edge of control, however, proved good preparation for qualifying. In Friday’s time trials, Allmendinger claimed the third starting spot for Sunday’s race—a career best, and light years better than his average starting position of 20.5 at Martinsville.
“Well, my guys fixed all my mess-ups,” Allmendinger said. “I hit the wall four times in a row in practice, and that was the biggest thing. I thought we had a good car—I just kept trying to destroy it.
“They did a good job and you know (crew chief Brian) Burns and (race engineer Tony) Palmer and my guys, and especially (consultant) Todd (Parrott) coming in has made us better these last few races. I’ve always liked this place and have always been pretty good here. Hopefully, it’s a good start to a really good weekend.”
Allmendinger’s best finish at the .526-mile short track is a second in 2012.