Of the 80 drivers who attempted the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway in 2017, one of the biggest surprises throughout the weekend was the consistency shown by Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina native Trevor Noles. After qualifying his #2 Noles Cabinets/Lemons Motorsports Late Model in the third position, Noles would go on to lead 34 out of the 200 laps in the race before coming home in the fifth position.
Noles has once again partnered up with Tommy Lemons Jr. for the 2018 ValleyStar Credit Union 300, and is confident that he will have a car that can contend for the win at the end of the evening. Noles admitted that he learned a lot from having Lemons as both a teammate and owner for the weekend, but he was also impressed by the amount of speed his car showed and hopes that he can set a similar pace on Saturday night.
“I had pretty high expectations going in,” Noles said. “I was expecting to run somewhere between Top 5 and Top 10, but we unloaded really good, and we made a couple of adjustments to the car and got better over the weekend as we ended up fourth in qualifying after the DQ’s. I have better expectations for this year, so hopefully I can get the monkey off my back and use this as a turning point for my year.”
Lemons has been one of the most successful drivers in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 over the past decade, as he picked up his first win in the race in 2013 after leading 11 laps, and would back that up with another victory in 2015. Lemons found himself in a position to join Philip Morris as the only driver to win three times in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, but was unable to mount a challenge against race winner Timothy Peters and finished in seventh.
Lemons’ success as Martinsville was one of the reasons why Noles elected to collaborate with him, but the relationship between the two stems all the way back to when both drivers were beginning their careers in Late Models. Noles has been thankful for all of the support that Lemons has provided him over the past year along with all of the fast Late Models that Jumpstart Motorsports keeps providing him, and aims to return the favor by putting one of his cars in victory lane.
Noles nearly obtained that first victory with Jumpstart Motorsports in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, and found himself in a close battle for the win between himself, Peters, Peyton Sellers and Lee Pulliam. Although his car would fade during the closing stages, Noles was overwhelmed by the amount of success he experienced in only his second start at Martinsville, and is anxiously looking forward to having another opportunity to compete against some of the best Late Model drivers.
“When you go to Martinsville, you always have to worry about Pulliam and Sellers,” Noles said. “When you have a car as good as I had, you can’t ask for more. It was fun to beat and bang with those guys and to run side-by-side with Timothy Peters for 40 consecutive laps. It was a huge night for me, and it was awesome to end up front with those guys.”
Noles’ fifth place run at Martinsville gave him confidence going into his first attempt at the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown with Jumpstart Motorsports, but the team’s first race in the Thunder Road-Harley Davidson 200 at South Boston Speedway ended on Lap 1 when Noles was swept up in a big crash on the backstretch. Despite the setback, Noles planned to run the Hampton Heat at Langley Speedway until the race was rescheduled due to rain, which forced Noles to pull out of the event due to a conflict in his schedule.
With the Triple Crown no longer on his mind, Noles is focused on adding his name to the list of notable drivers who have won the ValleyStar Credit Union 300. Although Martinsville Speedway will introduce a couple of changes to the race format for the 2018 edition of the 200-lap feature, Noles believes that track position and patience will still be essential in deciding who leaves the track with a grandfather clock.
“We’re going in with a couple of different strategies,” Noles said. “I know they’re doing that two-tire, four-tire deal at Lap 100, so that’s going to be a big change. I’m just going to try and do what I did last time, which is to qualify inside the Top 10, save as much tires as I can, and try to stay out of the big one.”
After the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 concludes, Noles plans to shift his focus towards Super Late Models, and will compete in the SLM feature of the inaugural Commonwealth Classic at Richmond Raceway on Oct. 20. Noles also has the Snowball Derby circled on his calendar, and will team with Super Late Model veteran Donnie Wilson for the event, who has fielded cars for Noles throughout his career.