NASCAR WCUP: Dodge Ready To Make New Winston Cup Assault
Posted By Terry Callahan
MARTINSVILLE, VA--The long wait for Dodge is almost
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel
When the Dodge Intrepids roar to life for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, it will mark the manufacturer’s return to Winston Cup racing after an absence of more than 20 years.
And in less than two months, the Dodge brigade will roll into Martinsville Speedway for the Virginia 500, bringing bushels of history back with them to the oldest track on the Winston Cup circuit.
Eighteen times a Dodge product has graced victory lane at the .526-mile track. Thirteen of those Dodge wins came with Richard Petty behind the wheel.
Ironically the new Dodge charge toward Martinsville Speedway has a noteworthy tie to Petty. Of the 10 drivers piloting Dodges this season, only one, John Andretti, has won at Martinsville. When Andretti took the checkered flag for the 1999 Virginia 500, he was driving a Petty-owned car.
And when Andretti returns to Martinsville this spring, he’ll again be driving for Petty, but this time in a Dodge.
The last time a Dodge won at Martinsville was in 1975, and even though Petty won a race at Martinsville in 1975 in a Dodge, his wasn’t the last Dodge win here. Petty won the Virginia 500 in April of 1975 in a Dodge while Dave Marcis won the Old Dominion 500 in September of 1975, Dodge’s last win here.
The last Dodge start at Martinsville came in the Goody’s 500 on Sept. 23, 1984 when Buddy Arrington started 28th and finished 18th. Joining Andretti in Petty Dodges will be Kyle Petty and Buckshot Jones. Bill Elliott and rookie Casey Atwood will pilot the Ray Evernham Dodge entries. Ward Burton and Dave Blaney will drive the two cars fielded by Bill Davis Racing, which switched to Dodge, while Sterling Marlin and rookie Jason Leffler will drive Chip Ganassi’s pair of Dodges. Stacy Compton will be back for his second year with Melling Racing, but this time in a Dodge.
While Andretti has the only Martinsville win among the new crop of Dodge drivers, several have run strong here.
Kyle Petty was second in the Virginia 500 in 1991 and has five top-five finishes at Martinsville. Marlin finished second in both the 1988 and 1992 Virginia 500 and has several top-10 Martinsville finishes. Elliott has a couple of top 5s to his credit at Martinsville.
Compton has had fair success in three different divisions – Late Model Stock, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and Winston Cup – at Martinsville while Burton has had similar success in Late Models, the Busch Grand National Series and Winston Cup. Dave Blaney has made two Martinsville races, both in his rookie season a year ago, while 2001 rookie Casey Atwood has one start here. Neither Jones nor Leffler have made a Winston Cup start at Martinsville Speedway.
The next racing action at Martinsville Speedway is the Virginia 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race on Sunday, April 8. Tickets are $40-$70 and are available by calling toll free at (877) 722-3849 or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.
Text Provided By M. Smith