POST-RACE REPORT: MARTINSVILLE
Ridgeway, Virginia (April 24, 2023) - After much anticipation, both G2G Racing and driver Memphis Villarreal were ready to take on NASCAR's oldest speedway, the Martinsville Speedway.
The weekend did not start to plan, as mother nature parked all at-the-track action very quickly on Thursday morning. NASCAR then made the call to scrub the day, come back tomorrow, qualify, then race. This left Villarreal in an interesting spot. He could be potentially making his first career start with no practice in his No. 46 S&S Fishing & Rental Tundra TRD Pro.
The next day, the team began to go to work on their No. 46 machine, preparing it for the upcoming qualifying session. As it drew closer, there was a calmness that was flowing around the team, knowing the truck would run great in qualifying and in the evening’s 200-lap race.
In his qualifying attempt, Villarreal took to the track, recording a lap of 20.396 seconds. At the time of the lap, he had put his truck on the provisional pole!
As the session continued, his time slowly made its way down the leaderboard, but was still keeping ahead of the trucks he needed to be ahead of to make the race. Then, about halfway through the qualifying session, everyone was able to breathe easy, as it was made official that he had locked himself into the field on pure speed.
He was issued the 29th starting spot.
Mother Nature began to rear her head, as weather began to move in, as the race drew closer. This meant a potential new challenge.
Before the season had started, NASCAR had announced they would debut rain tires and equipment at short tracks if there was wet conditions. Therefore, if it did rain, no one in the entire series, let alone sport, had raced on wet tires on a short track.
Then, shortly after the command to start engines, lightning struck within 8 miles of the 0.533-mile speedway, forcing a lightning delay. This would continue for a total of 3 hours, in addition to multiple heavy downpours. This soaked the speedway, but this meant the teams would have to get their trucks ready to run in the rain.
Therefore, both Villarreal and team went to work on his truck, quickly converting it over for rain racing.
As drivers were told to return to their trucks and get ready to race, the team was calm and ready to fight with the best of them. And that is just what happened.
Off the green flag, Villarreal began picking his way through the field. Unfortunately, the leaders, who were making great time around the track, passed him to put him a lap down, along with NASCAR Cup Series Superstar, Ross Chastain.
Villarreal jumped up on the wheel, and passed Chastain very efficiently, moving into the Luck Dog position. Then, caution shortly followed, putting him back on the lead lap; trapping the Cup Superstar a lap down.
When the race resumed, Villarreal hovered around the 26th position, where he would finish in Stage 1.
After pit stops, Villarreal had vaulted to 21st, hoping that would help him in his race to the front. Then, Mother Nature made another unwanted appearance.
After a short stoppage, the trucks returned to the track. Villarreal looked to quickly make his way through the field, as it was reported there was more rain on the way that could shorten the race. Therefore, as soon as the race resumed, the action intensified.
He was able to maintain his position for a few laps, before the handling on his truck slowly started to go away. By the end of Stage 2, he had slipped to the 25th position. But with rain in the area, the team decided to not bring him down pit road and see if they would make up some positions on drivers who might come down pit road, if the race was to be restarted.
The race was eventually restarted, in which Villarreal was able to pass the truck ahead of him right before a caution waved over the track for more rain.
Therefore, NASCAR brought the trucks down pit road, before declaring the race over. This would reward Villarreal with a 24th place finish in his NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series debut.
After a wet and cold trip to Martinsville, the team will look to improve upon their success at 1.5-mile tracks, as the series heads to the Kansas Speedway for the Heart of America 200. The action will kick off at 8:00pm, Eastern, with coverage live on Fox Sports 1 and NASCAR SiriusXM, Channel 90.
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