Philip Morris at speed during practice at Martinsville Speedway. Corey Latham Photo

Veterans Lead the Way in Practice at Martinsville

Of the 86 drivers that took to the track in the only practice session for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, 75 posted times in the 20-second bracket. However, when the red flag was displayed at 7:00 p.m., familiar faces were prevalent at the top of the charts.

Three-time ValleyStar Credit Union 300 winner Philip Morris began his quest for a fourth Martinsville victory on a high note by topping the charts in the only ValleyStar Credit Union 300 practice session on Friday with a time of 20.269. Morris liked the way his car handled on both old and new tires, and only plans to make a shock change to improve his car.

“As the track gets cooler, it becomes harder to turn the car,” Morris said. “We’re just trying to free it up with everything that we can do besides the easy adjustments that we can do later on if it looks like it’s really going to cool down.”

Bobby McCarty, who is currently sharing the lead of the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown Series with Nick Smith, posted the second fastest time of the session with a 20.302. Ryan Repko, who is making only his second career start at Martinsville, was third with a 20.337. C.E. Falk III and Peyton Sellers were fourth and fifth respectively.

After scoring a Top 10 in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 in 2016, Repko has had Martinsville circled on his calendar all year. He believes that racing under the lights will make the track more fun to race on, and that his car will have plenty of speed when the green flag drops on Saturday.

“We started getting tight, and then we made some adjustments and we started getting free,” said Repko. “During that last run I felt pretty neutral. We slowed down a little bit, but I felt like that was because of hot tires, and I’m expecting to qualify near the front.”

West Virginia native Davin Scites was sixth on the charts, while 2009 ValleyStar Credit Union 300 winner Jake Crum was seventh. Rounding out the Top 10 were Stacy Puryear, R.D. Smith, and 2005 ValleyStar Credit Union 300 winner Timothy Peters.

While many teams used the practice session to prepare their cars for qualifying, others used it as an opportunity to improve on their race setup. Stacy Puryear believes that the practice chart was not indicative of his car’s true speed, and that he will be one of the better cars for the main event tomorrow night.

“Believe it or not, we never put any tires on,” Puryear said. “We made our qualifying run last Thursday night, and had four or five laps on the tires, and that’s what we unloaded with. I feel like we have a really good race car, and if we can qualify in the Top 10, then I think we can race them hard tomorrow.”

The practice session was relatively incident-free with the exception of a couple of single-car spins, but a couple of teams encountered mechanical issues. Both Ryan Wilson and Anthony Alfredo lost engines during the session, but Wilson was able to make an engine change and return to the track near the end of the session. However, Alfredo was not as fortunate, as his team did not have a spare engine, forcing him to withdraw from his first ValleyStar Credit Union 300.

The ValleyStar Credit Union 300 is NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious Late Model Stock Car race. The day starts with three 25-lap heat races to set the field, followed by a 25-lap “last chance” heat. Tickets for the September 23rd event are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 1-877-RACE-TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.

Official Times from Practice:
1. 01 Philip Morris 20.269
2. 22 Bobby McCarty 20.302
3. 14 Ryan Repko 20.337
4. 02 CE Falk 20.345
5. 26 Peyton Sellers 20.353
6. 06 Davin Scites 20.388
7. 01 Jake Crum 20.409
8. 17 Stacy Puryear 20.449
9. 16 RD Smith 20.456
10. 12 Timothy Peters 20.462
11. 83 Matt Bowling 20.467
12. 87 Mike Looney 20.469
13. 2 Trevor Noles 20.471
14. 08 Deac McCaskill 20.471
15. 34 Justin Snow 20.490
16. 57 Eddie Johnson 20.517
17. 11 Jeff Oakley 20.519
18. 27 Tommy Lemons Jr 20.531
19. 2 Dennis Holdren 20.539
20. 88 Josh Berry 20.543
21. 44 Justin Johnson 20.539
22. 21 Travis Swaim 20.551
23. 18 Jason York 20.558
24. 26 Danny Edwards Jr. 20.559
25. 21 Mike Darne 20.560
26. 24 Mason Diaz 20.561
27. 22 Grayson Cullather 20.562
28. 5 Lee Pulliam 20.563
29. 55 Mark Wertz 20.570
30. 77 Trevor Ward 20.575
31. 03 Brenden Queen 20.590
32. 18 Ty Gibbs 20.593
33. 2 Brandon Pierce 20.593
34. 33 Macy Causey 20.594
35. 15 Kres Van Dyke 20.595
36. 77 Blake Stallings 20.617
37. 73 Bruce Anderson 20.644
38. 57 Jimmy Mullins 20.647
39. 2 Myatt Snider 20.654
40. 22 Robert Powell 20.657
41. 50 Jamey Caudill 20.658
42. 57 Justin T. Carroll 20.669
43. 25 Derrick Lancaster 20.683
44. 27 Coy Beard 20.684
45. 91 Justin Carroll 20.700
46. 7 Justin Crider 20.707
47. 9 Brad Kurth 20.712
48. 4 Annabeth Barnes-Crum 20.724
49. 51 Chris Chapman 20.738
50. 1 Jamie Sweeney 20.741
51. 12 Nick Smith 20.743
52. 82 Barry Beggarly 20.745
53. 92 Casey Wyatt 20.752
54. 81 Jared Fryar 20.762
55. 95 Jacob Heafner 20.769
56. 63 Tyler Matthews 20.799
57. 50 Haley Moody 20.799
58. 07 Dean Ward 20.802
59. 8 Anthony Alfredo 20.805
60. 17 Bryan Reedy 20.813
61. 8 Thomas Scott 20.816
62. 12 Austin Thaxton 20.818
63. 24 Colin Garrett 20.854
64. 4 Timothy Phipps 20.859
65. 61 Justin Hicks 20.863
66. 4 John Moore 20.882
67. 2 Matt Leicht 20.890
68. 5 Ronnie McCarty 20.920
69. 90 Terry Carroll 20.923
70. 36 Owen Smith 20.927
71. 22 Scott Lancaster 20.930
72. 33 Jimmy Wallace 20.944
73. 28 Jason Barnes 20.955
74. 19 Cameron Bowen 20.979
75. 21 Tommy Neal 20.984
76. 05 Mason Bailey 21.035
77. 12 Ryan Gray 21.064
78. 37 Adam Gray 21.083
79. 7 Jamie Byrd 21.091
80. 12 Ryan Wilson 21.171
81. 25 Craig Eastep 21.245
82. 07 Kevin Neal 21.258
83. 78 Ricky Gillespie 21.299
84. 18 Bobby Gillespie 21.414
85. 04 Larry Barrett 21.534
86. 7 Dylan Ward 25.345


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Brandon White