For the first time ever, drivers raced around Martinsville Speedway under the LED lights Thursday night. Nearly 90 Late Model Stock Car teams arrived at “The Paperclip” to test for next Saturday’s ValleyStar 300. This year, testing was more important than ever.
With this year being the first ValleyStar 300 under the lights, Test Day was the first chance for drivers to see how their cars would react when the sun goes down and the lights come on.
We catch you up on everything that went on Thursday night in the notebook below.
Sellers Happy With Setup: Peyton Sellers, still trying to chase his first grandfather clock, was happy with his car following the Thursday night test. During the practice, Sellers and crew made a number of changes including changing a truck arm. Overall, Sellers was happy with the car, and should be one to watch next week.
Drivers Experience Night Racing For First Time: Overall, the consensus opinion amongst drivers was that the track has more grip under the lights.
Repko seconded what many drivers thought about the change from day to night as many drivers picked up speed throughout the evening as temperatures dropped.
VanDyke Hopeful For ValleyStar 300: After finishing third at Martinsville last year, Kingsport Speedway (TN) track champion Kres VanDyke participated in Thursday’s test.
“We have a notebook of stuff from last year,” VanDyke said. “We started from that and found a few things to build on. I didn't see the handling change a whole lot, the track firmed up though.”
Bowen Finds Speed After Lights Come On: Prior to the lights coming on, Cameron Bowen was less than thrilled with his car. However, after the lights came on, the sun set, and cooler temperatures set in, Bowen seemed to be pleased with his race car.
“I think we picked up a lot more grip. I like it better at night; it's a lot cooler.”
Falk Believes He Has A Bullet: CE Falk has finished in the top-10 three times in the Martinsville 300, but he believes this year may be his best shot to win.
“We have some speed, which is nice, just trying to make it drive a little better though,” Falk said. “We found some stuff towards the end, the track definitely changed a lot towards the end. The track got really fast, slowed down, and then picked up again, but I feel like our car is pretty good.”
Causey Struggles Under Lights: After finishing up her final run of the day, Macy Causey, who finished 39th last year, was one of the few drivers who admitted she struggled with the lights on.
“Towards the beginning of the day it was pretty good, but as the night went on we didn’t seem to get any faster and everyone else started picking up,” Cause stated. “Towards the end of practice we got it pointed in the right direction. We made a big adjustment.”
Engine Rule Changes Made During Test: Two hours into the test, officials and drivers called for a break and officials announced engine changes for Ford crate and Chevy built engines.
For Ford crates, they will now run a 5.23 gear and hit the rev limiter at 7200 RPM. For Chevy built engines, they will now run a 5.42 engine and hit the rev limiter at 7500 RPM.
Moody Gains Speed Late: Haley Moody will be attempting to make the race for the second time in her career. This time around, she’ll have a car built and maintained by LMSC ace Lee Pulliam underneath her.
Moody was happy as practice ended Thursday night.
“We gained a lot of speed at the end, I think we have a really good car. We are fast on older tires,” Moody said “I like it at night, I think it tightened everybody up. I think it will be really interesting.”
For more on Test Day, check out Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage of the event by clicking here.
-By Reese Nobles, Speed51.com Mid-Atlantic Correspondent – Twitter: @RNoblesSpeed51
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com