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Head2Head: First-time Truck winner at Martinsville?

March 26, 2012, ,

Martinsville Speedway is a tricky little track, rewarding patience and wherewithal with a trip to Victory Lane and a grandfather clock. But do you have to be a veteran driver to reap the rewards of an afternoon at the paperclip-shaped venue?

Will another Truck driver get his or her first win at Martinsville?


With its slow, tight, flat corners and narrow straightaways, Martinsville Speedway can be an intimidating place for a driver visiting there for the first time. You're constantly in bumper-to-bumper traffic -- and one wrong move could result in a costly meeting with one of Martinsville's concrete walls.

And yet, Martinsville is a place where relative inexperience hasn't always been a detriment. In 2009, rookie Timothy Peters scored his first truck series win there, leading 84 laps on his way to a 1.815-second margin of victory over Todd Bodine.

Last spring was a perfect example of how quickly drivers can adapt to Martinsville's unique style of racing. Second-year driver Austin Dillon led 37 laps and finished seventh, then came back in the fall and improved to third.

Motocross legend Ricky Carmichael scored his third Martinsville top-10 after leading 36 circuits. Brazilian Miguel Paludo led five laps in his Martinsville Truck debut, finishing a respectable 12th.

So don't count out drivers like Ty Dillon, Justin Lofton, Joey Coulter and Parker Kligerman just because they don't have a lot of laps on Martinsville's flat half-mile surface. It's all about getting maximum acceleration off the corners while babying the brakes, avoiding mistakes and putting yourself in the right position at the end.

If John King can pull off the unexpected upset at Daytona, there's no reason to think that another first-time winner won't be celebrating in Martinsville's Victory Lane.

Mark Aumann, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Congratulations to John King for his surprising and entertaining victory at Daytona International Speedway a whopping five weeks ago. It was fun to watch, and it was fun for the Camping World Truck Series. But let's not go getting all crazy and expecting a rash of first-time winners.

Let's look at the past 10 Martinsville races. The victors? Denny Hamlin, Johnny Sauter, Ron Hornaday Jr., Kevin Harvick (2), Timothy Peters, Johnny Benson, Dennis Setzer and Mike Skinner (2).

The only name in that list to earn his first career NASCAR victory at Martinsville was Timothy Peters. The others have a combined 129 victories in the Truck Series and had the experience necessary to make a winning move in the close confines of the tiny Southwest Virginia track.

Martinsville isn't a track for newbies, nor is it a track where one lucks into a victory. It's beating and banging and a long day of preserving brakes and avoiding trouble. It's a track for veterans and for those who know how to handle the pressure of the paperclip.

Could someone like Miguel Paludo or Ty Dillon come through it unscathed and visit Victory Lane? Of course. They, and others, are talented drivers looking for their breakthrough and that could come at any point, as King showed at Daytona.

Unfortunately for them, it's much more likely that someone will be adding to his grandfather clock collection rather than receiving his or her first.

Jill Erwin, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

There's plenty of talk about first-time winners, and Mark Aumann and Jill Erwin disagree on the likelihood of it happening at Martinsville. Read their arguments and then weigh in with your own in the comments below. And don't forget to vote in the poll at the right.