On what would already be a stressful and exciting ValleyStar Credit Union 300 qualifying day at Martinsville Speedway (VA) Saturday, a few extra wrinkles tested the resolve of both track officials and the eighty drivers signed in trying to make Sunday’s $25,000 to win show.

Timothy Peters and Jake Crum might have been the only ones smiling by day’s end, as they qualified 1-2 for tomorrow’s feature and are locked into the front row. They are the only ones guaranteed a starting spot in the 300 as the rest of the field will have to go through qualifying heats to earn a spot for the main event.

For a long time Saturday, it wasn’t clear if anyone at all was going to be able to sleep easy before Sunday. When the day dawned in the Virginia foothills, a grey, threatening sky covered the racetrack and raindrops began falling almost as soon as practice started. The drops would continue all through the afternoon but never quite hard enough to halt a moment’s worth of on–track activity.

The rain would prove to be a merely tertiary concern as Martinsville’s scoring system crashed moments into practice. Despite nearly three hours of debugging, NASCAR officials were unable to fix the system and instead met with drivers to discuss how or even if they would be able to qualify. After a long discussion, drivers voted to do group qualifying with NASCAR stopwatches providing the official speeds during time trials. In the end, just a little more than half the field voted for the group method while many others wanted to do single car runs to maximally ensure accurate scoring.

Rolling off an hour late, Peters and Crum found the sweet spot of the qualifying order as both went in the middle of the round when the rubber had accumulated for grip but before the darkening sky turned the track back cold.

Peters turned in a 20.08, good enough to earn his first career pole for the biggest Late Model Stock race of the year. Peters, the 2005 champion, was also the beneficiary of the first delay this race faced – a one week postponement due to Hurricane Joaquin’s rains last week. Peters was scheduled to run the Truck race Saturday in Las Vegas and then start Sunday’s feature with no practice.

Instead, he gets to start in the safest position Sunday afternoon – in front of the (metaphorical) storm.

“Everything changes when you get delayed.” commented Peters after waiting an hour to get the official word he was the pole sitter. Just the wait the track sits and fluctuates in temperature. We came in this morning and the track was overcast and cold. It makes everyone so fast and you never know how you’re going to stack up. This is a proud moment for myself. We’ve been able to win the race and do the hat dance, but to win the pole was something to put in the bucket list.”

“You know, I voted for single-car qualifying. Obviously the group deal worked out for me. I think it would have been more effecient [for scoring] if we had done the single-car deal. The main thing you have to look at is that everyone here has a lot invested in coming to this race. Every racer here counts. Everyone coming here tomorrow is here to see a certain person in the race tomorrow. You want to make sure they have a fair shot.”

Crum, another form winner of the race (2009) will sit on the outside pole.

“I’m excited because we’re going to have 25-lap better tires than everyone,” Crum said in his post-qualifying comments. “It’s definitely an advantage. You win races at the shop and it shows by starting on the front row in front of the 80 best drivers in the country. I felt like we had the top-running car in the test two weeks ago.”

Third through fifth place qualifiers Brayton Haws, two-time 300 winner Lee Pulliam, and Brandon Butler will lead their respective heats to green on Sunday. The first heat race will roll at 12 PM ET with the main event expected to start around 2 PM. Speed51.com will have live Trackside Now coverage beginning around 10:30 AM.

— Story & Photos by Tim Quievryn // Southeast Editor // @thethirdturn

Qualifying Times (with heat race assignment):

1 1 12B Timothy Peters 20.08
2 2 01B Jake Crum 20.13
3 3 41 Brayton Haws 20.18
4 1 5 Lee Pulliam 20.19
5 2 02 Brandon Butler 20.20
6 3 16 R.D. Smith 20.21
7 1 88 Josh Berry 20.22
8 2 83 Matt Bowling 20.23
9 3 27 Tommy Lemons, Jr. 20.24
10 1 2B Myatt Snider 20.24
11 2 17B Stacy Puryear 20.25
12 3 50 Jamie Caudill 20.26
13 1 15 Kres Vandyke 20.26
14 2 98 Todd Gilliland 20.27
15 3 40 C.E. Falk 20.28
16 1 2 Matt Waltz 20.30
17 2 99 Tony Keen 20.31
18 3 00 Shane Lee 20.31
19 1 03 Brenden Queen 20.32
20 2 33C Alex Yontz 20.33
21 3 1 Mike Darne 20.34
22 1 81C Patrick Coleman 20.34
23 2 3 Kaz Grala 20.34
24 3 01 G.R. Waldrop 20.35
25 1 36 Anthony Anders 20.37
26 2 73 Bruce Anderson 20.38
27 3 20 Sam Yarbrough 20.38
28 1 12C Ryan Wilson 20.39
29 2 31 Ryan Robertson 20.40
30 3 21C Travis Swaim 20.41
31 1 51C Dalton Sargeant 20.41
32 2 2A Dennis Holdren 20.42
33 3 12A Annabeth Barnes 20.42
34 1 82 Barry Beggarly 20.42
35 2 58 Tyler Ankrum 20.43
36 3 18C Logan Bearden 20.43
37 1 21 Chad McCumbee 20.43
38 2 07 Spencer Davis 20.44
39 3 11 Juan Garcia 20.45
40 1 44 Dillon Bassett 20.46
41 2 18 Quin Houff 20.46
42 3 06 Davin Scites 20.47
43 1 77 Blake Stallings 20.48
44 2 17 Bryan Reedy 20.48
45 3 88C Ronnie Bassett 20.49
46 1 51 Kyle Dudley 20.50
47 2 57 Eddie Johnson 20.51
48 3 10 Nick Smith 20.51
49 1 6 Bobby McCarty 20.52
50 2 01A Philip Morris 20.53
51 3 90 Terry Carroll 20.55
52 1 54 Michael Fose 20.57
53 2 12 Austin Thaxton 20.57
54 3 25 Derrick Lancaster 20.58
55 1 15A Jamie Byrd 20.59
56 2 16A Jeff Oakley 20.59
57 3 9 Dean Ward 20.60
58 1 7A Dylan Ward 20.61
59 2 5B Wes Burton 20.61
60 3 8 Thomas Scott 20.62
61 1 29 Brandon Baker 20.64
62 2 91 Justin Carroll 20.65
63 3 0 Chris Dodson 20.70
64 1 15B Kyle Barnes 20.72
65 2 7 Dude Gibbs 20.73
66 3 5A Tyler English 20.73
67 1 57B Kelly Kingery 20.77
68 2 17A Joey Throckmorton 20.78
69 3 11C Kevin Smith 20.78
70 1 38 Mark Keesee, Jr. 20.80
71 2 7B Justin Crider 20.82
72 3 10A Kevin Parker 20.82
73 1 33 Macy Causey 20.85
74 2 81 Nicholas Cole 20.88
75 3 1B Jamie Sweeney 20.91
76 1 1A Daryn Cockram 20.96
77 2 78 Ricky Gillispie 21.22
78 3 24 Philip Sisson 21.38
79 1 12D Justin Taylor 21.67

Peters and Crum Ain’t Got Time To Run Martinsville Heats