C.E. Falk, III speaks of the grandfather clock trophy he earned by winning the 2018 ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway (VA) with the same attention to detail he would pay one of his Late Model Stock Cars.
“From the Sunday we unboxed it until the middle of July, we had a good run. I was on that thing, she was set up right, [chiming] every 15 minutes,” Falk told Speed51. “We were really enjoying it. My buddy was saying to wind it up every Sunday, pick a certain time. On Sundays at about 3 o’clock I was usually home, so that’s when I would wind it up.
“It’s been a great addition to our home. It brings great memories. It’s something I will cherish the rest of my life.”
This weekend, Falk hopes it will once again be his time to celebrate at Martinsville, as he will be chasing back-to-back wins in the crown jewel of Late Model Stock racing. The veteran racer shared on Speed51’s “The Morning Bullring” that he has some more work to do to compete for the win.
Falk was in the top 10 in timing and scoring during last Thursday’s open testing session at Martinsville ahead of the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, but he felt the car lacked the consistent performance necessary to go for the grandfather clock.
“We’ve got a little bit of work to do. We were eighth on the speed charts, but a couple of guys didn’t have transponders,” he stated. “We are looking for a little extra. We’re working hard this week. We worked most of the day Sunday. Most of our guys are at work during the day, but at night we’re going to be looking for a little extra speed.”
While Falk does not compete on a full-time basis as he did earlier in his career, he hopes the wealth of experience at his disposal as well as some quality time spent improving his car over the summer will pay dividends.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without the knowledge and experience I have from racing since 2007. I really lean on that a lot. This race, I’m definitely prepared for. I took a break after the Hampton Heat, re-evaluated car, chopped it up tried a few things different geometrically and took it to Langley a couple of weeks ago to see if it was better, and it was.
“If the car didn’t run good at Langley, I wasn’t sure if I was going to run Martinsville. If I didn’t have a fighter’s chance, I wasn’t going to waste my time.”
Since 2017, a unique aspect of the Martinsville Late Model Stock event has been its primetime scheduling on Saturday night, the first event scheduled to compete under the venue’s new LED lighting system. It has added a level of energy around the race that borders on the unreal, and has also changed how the race plays out.
“The first time I was out there, I felt like it was a video game,” said Falk. “The only time you could ever experience Martinsville under the lights was NASCAR Thunder 2004 or whatever, you could set Martinsville to night-time mode. It’s really cool under the lights. Every year I start with my dark shield and I have to remember to change to my clear shield for practice.
“It’s such a cool race. To make it under the lights and make the temperatures enjoyable for the fans, to stay out there all day, it gives our race a different focus versus the big series. It’s been a great experience.”
This year’s race also brings a change in format. Most notably, 20 drivers will lock in to the feature field during Friday’s qualifying session, with the rest of the field going to heat races on Saturday afternoon. This is a departure from the previous format, where only two drivers transferred directly to the feature and the vast majority of competitors went to the heats.
“This year will be a lot different, with locking in the top 20,” explained Falk. “Before, nearly everyone had to run a heat race, so your car had to be really good in the day and night time, or make it adjustable to do both. This year, we’re going to practice in the day on Friday, but if you lock in on time, you don’t race again until Saturday night. Your car is going to have to be really good during the day.”
Fans can watch Falk’s interview in its entirety by viewing our on-demand replay of “The Morning Bullring” by clicking here. The show airs every Monday morning starting at 7 a.m. ET on Speed51.com and Speed51’s Facebook Feed presented by Five Star Race Car Bodies.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo