ALLTEL Team Penske Ready For First Trip To Historic Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Ryan Newman and ALLTEL Team Penske will have four new experiences this season at tracks where he has never raced. The first of those new experiences comes this weekend when he turns his first laps on the 0.526-mile Martinsville Speedway.

The team tested there several weeks ago (March 25-26) in preparation for this weekend's Virginia 500 and they wondered how Newman would react during his first laps on the track.

“The test went better than I expected," said team engineer Mike Nelson.

Crew chief Matt Borland echoed those sentiments.

"Definitely better than expected," Borland said. "Our plan was to go up there and spend two days learning the track. We wanted to give Ryan an opportunity to get comfortable enough that our first race at Martinsville wouldn't be a struggle.

"But Ryan went out there and in a matter of laps he had picked up the track and was running some really competitive laps. Ryan continues to amaze us and this test was no different. I think it was one of our best tests to date."

The driver keeps it in perspective.

"Our test was really good and gave us a good base for what qualifying will might be like," Newman said. "But racing at Martinsville is a whole different animal. Once you get 43 cars on the track fighting for position, who knows what will happen. Some feelings were hurt in the fall event, I remember watching that. Hopefully, we won't be on either side of an accident.

"We're taking a brand-new car (PRS-048) that tested pretty well. Martinsville is like no place else. It's a lot of braking with long straightaways on a paper clip-shaped racetrack."

Friday's qualifying session to set the 43-car field for the Virginia 500 is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. EDT and will be shown live on Fox Sports Net (TV). Sunday's 500-lap, 263-mile race is set to begin at 1:00 p.m. EDT. MRN Radio and FX TV will cover the race live beginning at 12:30 p.m. EDT.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2002

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