In his first attempt at the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 since 2012, Craig Moore successfully locked himself into the show following a strong qualifying run on Friday night and will line up for the 200-lap main event in the 19th position.
Moore entered the weekend riding a wave of momentum after a strong run in the Throwback 276 and a pole at Orange County Speedway for the CARS LMSC Tour, and he hopes that the speed his car displayed yesterday evening will serve as a good sign for the Late Model feature.
“This is great,” Moore said. “I feel like we had a little bit of a better car than we qualified with, but due to circumstances, it is what it is.”
Moore arrived at Martinsville last Thursday with one of the fastest cars in the garage area, and managed to put down a lap of 20.134 that put him second of the 48 cars that had a transponder, with Mike Looney being the only driver to post a quicker time than him.
The consistency for Moore and his team carried over into Friday evening when he set the eighth quickest time of the only practice session with a 20.155, which he parlayed into a Top 20 qualifying effort that secured him a position in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300.
During the afternoon, Moore noticed some issues developing on his Late Model, but was unable to diagnose the issue until his car dropped off the scales while he and the rest of the Top 20 were going through post-qualifying inspection.
“We had a spindle break last night,” Moore said. “I think it was breaking and cracking on us all day, but thankfully we were able to work on the car for two hours with the new work session. We stayed up all night last night, and Kenny Forbes helped me fix a new spindle, so I’m happy that I was able to fix the car and keep the position.”
Moore considers himself fortunate that the spindle issue happened during inspection instead of on-track during the opening laps of Late Model feature, and is optimistic that he will find the speed that his car possessed during practice and the Thursday test session.
Despite being locked into the show, Moore will find himself in the middle of the pack when the green flag drops for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, but he plans to implement a conservative strategy early on to ensure that his Late Model remains in one piece during the closing laps.
“We’re just going to ride during the first 75 laps,” Moore said. “If the car is pretty good, then that’s fine, but if not, then at least we can work on it.”
Moore and the rest of the Top 20 will watch the remaining spots in the field get set through the two heat races starting at 3 p.m., which will be led by Matt Leicht and Brennan Poole, respectively.