Compiled by: Langley Austin ~ [email protected]

Copper Hill, VA(October 17, 2012) — Well, it’s finally that time of year … Martinsville is here.

The Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 is on tap for this weekend.  Drivers and teams are making final preparations now and so is the staff.  We’ve been busy with our JRI Shocks “Month of Martinsville” preview, getting the fans up to date on what to expect at Martinsville Speedway.

Now it’s time to deliver the FDJ Motorsports Power Rankings, a pre-race special for all the big races.  This time instead of trying to calculate where a driver ranks based on performance, we’re trying to predict the future a little bit.  We take into account his past finishes, performances and more from Martinsville as well as performances this season in other races and just knowledge about the driver and how he races.

Well, lets let it roll on, here’s the Pre-Race Martinsville FDJ Motorsports Power Rankings.  Hope you enjoy.

Honorable Mentions ….

Clint King
We all know the name, Clint King grew up looking up to Late Model Stock Car drivers and once behind the wheel of one he impressed with becoming the youngest winner in UARA. However it’s been a long road since, but in his first trip to Martinsville, don’t be surprised if he surprises you …

Jamie Yelton
Yeah, I know he hasn’t raced in like forever, but Jamie Yelton has been known to be right in the mix when he does strap in. He says he was two tenths faster than everyone at the test, if he can back that up, he’ll be one of the cars to beat.

Ryan Wilson
He hasn’t had a lot of success at Martinsville, but the young drivers program has improved every year and this year, I think he could be one of the guys to beat. All he needs is a little luck.

Chad Finchum
You might not even know the name. However, after the way he performed at Motor Mile Speedway in just a handful of starts this season, you might know it soon enough. Chad Finchum seems to be the real deal and after missing last years Martinsville race in his first venture to the 1/2 mile track, he’s looking to impress this season.

Mike Looney
He might not be the guy to beat every week and everywhere he travels, but that’s only because of bad luck. Mike Looney seems to have a black cloud that follows him around, but before that black cloud strikes him down, he’s generally a top competitor anywhere he goes. Martinsville will be no different.

Ben Rhodes
After a stellar performance at Richmond Int. Raceway in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown, Ben Rhodes is one of the drivers that everyone will have an eye on this weekend. Rhodes is reunited with crew chief, Lee McCall, who won Richmond with Tony Stewart and looks to be a top contender at Martinsville.

22 – Chad Harris
Yeah, he’s back. Chad Harris might have taken a couple seasons off, but the former pole winner is as sharp as ever. Teamed once again with veteran crew chief, Dave Roope, the duo is looking for success on Martinsville’s half mile.

21 – Kenny Forbes
He’s not the most familiar name in the garage area, but Kenny Forbes has delivered some impressive performances in the last couple of seasons. The young driver could be among the top contenders this weekend.

20 – Adam Long
Fresh off his win in the Twin 75-lap East TN State Championship races at Kingsport Speedway and being dubbed the “King of the Concrete Jungle”, Adam Long is ready for a victory. Since his Kingsport wins, Adam also got married which will certainly add to his motivation at Martinsville.

19 – Ronnie Bassett, Jr.
In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series races, Ronnie Bassett, Jr. is five for five. He also has four wins in the UARA-STARS Series, well actually six, but who’s counting. Bassett and crew chief, Chris Lawson certainly have been on there game this season, but a poor performance at Martinsville could erase all the hard work.

18 – Dexter Canipe, Jr.
After a fourth place finish in the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 last season, Dexter Canipe, Jr. has to be excited about this years event. However, having been out of the seat for the majority of this season has to have him a little rusty.

17 – Coleman Pressley
While Coleman Pressley hasn’t been behind the wheel of his Late Model much this season after a broken arm sidelined him early in the season. However, the young driver is still a contender and recently even secured a top seven starting spot in the Myrtle Beach 400 with a win on the 1/2 mile track. He also has a UARA-STARS Series win to his credit this season and don’t be surprised if he doesn’t find his way to the front of the pack at Martinsville.

16 – Eddie Johnson
Do I really need to explain? Eddie Johnson is the man in long distance races and with a win in a 150-lap version of this race in 1993, he’s got to be a favorite.

15 – Garrett Campbell
He might not have the success that he wants at Martinsville to date, but this year could be his turn around. Garrett Campbell knows how to win big races after securing multiple UARA wins and a win in last November’s Myrtle Beach 400.

14 – Deac McCaskill
Deac McCaskill hasn’t exactly set Martinsville on fire in past seasons. But, this season his performance in the reopened Southern National Motorsports Park was off the charts. With 17 wins on the season at SNMP and another at SoBo, Deac McCaskill has to be considered a threat this year in any race.

13 – Josh Berry
With the Motor Mile Speedway championship in hand, Josh Berry is ready to challenge at Martinsville. The young driver fended off veteran, Frank Deiny, Jr. for the title at Motor Mile and has been among the strongest this season. Martinsville will be a great place for him to get his second win of the season.

12 – Matt Bowling
The kid not only won the South Boston Speedway championship, but he also went into unfamiliar territory at Langley Speedway and won the biggest race of the season. The Hampton Heat win also propeled him to second in the Virginia Triple Crown Series points standings, behind Langley Speedway dominator, CE Falk.

11 – Peyton Sellers
With three wins on the season at South Boston Speedway, Peyton Sellers comes into Martinsville hungry for his first Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 victory. Sellers, who has run good in the past struggled last year, but driving for fellow LMSC racer, Tony Keen, he might have his best shot yet.

10 – Frank Deiny, Jr.
The veteran driver might not have had the season that many expected him to have in his second season with Kiker Motorsports, but don’t count him out just yet. He’s won this race before and with the team he has, he could easily do it again.

9 – CE Falk III
Though he’s never been really good at Martinsville, many think that CE Falk will be one of the top contenders heading into this weekends race. With crew chief, Sammy Houston, who’s had Martinsville success, Falk will be looking to secure the Virginia Triple Crown Series with a win in the seasons biggest race.

8 – Stacy Puryear
Despite not being in the seat of Late Model much this season, Rev-Oil Pro-Cup Series driver, Stacy Puryear will be back in the biggest race of them all. Last year, he finished third and over the years he’s been one of the guys that has just missed victory. That could change this weekend ….

7 – Brandon Butler
He only straps in to race a couple times each year, but veteran Brandon Butler is competitive in every start. He’s won a lot of races over the years including the big end of season South Boston race, but Martinsville has eluded him so far. However with the way he performs, his breakthrough at Martinsville could be right around the corner.

6 – BJ Mackey
Though you won’t find his name in the Martinsville record books, BJ Mackey has gone to victory lane in the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300. In 2009, Jake Crum won out in a three-way battle of young guns to the finish and his crew chief on that day was none other than Mackey. Mackey knows how to get to victory lane and certainly will have the speed in the Barber 98 car, but he’s got to make it to the finish to have a chance.

5 – Tommy Lemons, Jr.
Hedgecock chassis, Kowalsky Engine, JRi Shocks, Sellers setups and a wheelman behind the wheel. No, I’m not talking about Philip Morris, who runs the exact same combination, I’m talking about the man that Morris tangled with late in the 2008 version of this race. Tommy Lemons, Jr. is no stranger to winning races and he’s used to running up front at Martinsville, but this year he has the combination that could put him in victory lane.

4 – Dennis Setzer
Yeah, the same Dennis Setzer who often competes in the NASCAR Nationwide and Truck Series. And, the same guy who is a two time (1992, 2007) winner of the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300. And, he’s again behind the wheel of the Long Brothers entry. Need I say more?

3 – Lee Pulliam
Last years winner of the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300. This years NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion. Winner of 22 races this season between four tracks. Winner of 41 races in the last two seasons. No explanation needed.

2 – Matt McCall
Leader of the most laps in last years race, Matt McCall came close to picking up his first win. Taken out on the final lap of the race by eventual winner, Lee Pulliam, McCall could be the guy to beat this season if he’s not looking for revenge like many believe. If he and Pulliam steer clear of one another McCall could finally get his grandfather clock.

1 – Philip Morris
He’s the “King of Late Model Stock Car racing”. However, the veteran driver, who has won Martinsville twice (2000, 2010) sat out most of the season after parting ways with his car owner, Jim Dean. He returned late in the season, but was able to pick up wins at both Motor Mile Speedway and South Boston Speedway, his two home tracks. It would be a fitting end if he’s able to come back and win Martinsville as well.