Archive for May, 2010

All-Star Weekend

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Hi Everyone,

What a weekend!

I want to thank all of you who casted a vote for me in the Sprint Fan Vote. After a long, hard-fought campaign, I did not win the Fan Vote … but I didn’t need it. The NAPA AUTO PARTS team went to victory lane Saturday night after winning the Sprint Showdown. It was awesome to race our way into the All-Star Race. Going into the deal, I thought we had a tough battle ahead of us when it came to earning one of the two transfer spots. Here’s why – on Friday the NAPA guys put a good car under me for qualifying and we were third quickest when rain blew through Concord. Four cars were left to make an attempt with really only one real challenger – Carl Edwards. Where I was sitting, we were going to line up no worse than fourth and in real contention of racing our way in. But after 10 p.m., NASCAR chose to cancel the remainder of the Sprint Showdown qualifying in favor of starting the NASCAR Truck Series race. That meant none of our times counted and the lineup would be the qualifying draw. We were going to start 20th in a 40-lap event … not good. I was worried because the field was stacked with drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Jeff Burton … you would have assumed were already in the race. Not so.

In the Showdown, we fought that track position and got real tight in traffic.  Pat made a few adjustments. We got two tires there during the first caution and got track position. Then it was just one at a time, picking them off.  They also was little bit of a skirmish with the 38 (David Gilliland) and that helped us open the door. Once we got up there to pass Biffle and got in clean air, our car got really good.  We took the win, but we still had some work to do for the All-Star race. It was awesome to get the win for NAPA and had a chance to challenge for a million bucks.

Our time to celebrate didn’t last long. It was time to go get the big bucks, but it wasn’t going to be easy as we were in the back again. This time we started 19th.  Track position at Charlotte is so important. During the race we ran mostly in the top 10. We did make a few adjustments on our car, but we had the same problems we had during the Showdown to really challenge for a top-five. But then the NAPA Toyota came to life during last two segments. The very last 10-lap deal, we got very good and were lucky. We were able to miss the big crash and when I got Kurt Busch in my sights with three laps to go, I could smell that cool million. If only I could have gotten to his bumper! We just got there a little too late. Everyone on the NAPA team did a good job, but we just ran out of time. Hopefully this weekend in the Coca-Cola 600, we’ll finish just one spot better!
Looking back at it all, I also won the Showdown in 2007. It was really big for my team and it really catapulted our season into winning and making the Chase. We challenged for five or six wins that year. Hopefully, this will kind of be that same start for the NAPA team. I feel like we’ve had a good season as a new team. We’re sitting 12th in the points and we’ve had some really good runs. I’ve been really pleased with Pat and the job he’s done with the team and throughout the races and the calls he’s made. Everything is really going well. It’s just a matter of us just getting better as a team and building up a little bit of a notebook. I like our chances and I think another win for NAPA is very much in our future.


Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Hi Everyone,

What a weekend at Darlington. I absolutely love the place. When it comes to qualifying, for whatever reason, I don’t qualify well there. This weekend was no different. I was surprised however that we could only get a 33rd place starting spot, but as they say, it doesn’t really matter where you start. It’s how you finish. I wasn’t too worried about being back there because I had some really good company – Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick – they were all behind me. Plus, I knew from practice that my car was pretty fast in race trim and when the green flag waved, my NAPA Toyota had picked up 11 spots by the time we made our first pit stop on lap 46. We were just a little loose, but on the long runs, it was pretty darn stout.

Then we got into a wreck. Surprisingly, it actually didn’t hurt our car as much as we would have expected. Michael even told the team during today’s team meeting that he was amazed we were even able to continue. He thought our day was done because our crash happened right in front of our NAPA pit box in Turn 4. That may have been a blessing since the team could see what happened and then with the help of our spotter, Ty Norris, as well as my input, the NAPA Know How Pit Crew was ready to work on the car when I pitted. We gave the pit crew a new nickname by the way.  Anyway, it took two services under caution to fix our Toyota and I was amazed at how calm my guys were. The toe was really knocked out and Allen Mincey, the NAPA team’s front end mechanic, looked it over and pretty much got it realigned. I even commented during a caution at how laid back he was.

I am just amazed at how good my NAPA Know How Pit Crew is. Just last week, they were named the Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew. It is a quarterly honor and very prestigious. It’s voted on by all the crew chiefs. They also remain on top of the Tissot Pit Road Precision Award standings.

All and all our Darlington race seemed as if it was one of those night’s where nothing would go right. We got caught up in the wreck. We fixed the car. We were one of the fastest cars on the track the rest of the race. Then we had a transmission issue on the restart and it cost us a lap. We could never quite get into contention to get the lap back. We were so close, but when I needed a caution, it never came. What is so frustrating is we were as fast as the leaders all night long. We passed so many cars. We put on a good show for our NAPA fans so that was a good thing. We were so much better than a 19th-place finish, but we still picked up another position in the championship points standings. We are now 13th, one spot out of Chase contention. There are just 16 points separating the NAPA team from Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team. That’s not bad considering we now head off to Dover – my home track and it’s the place where I scored my first Sprint Cup win.

As you all know, the last couple of weeks I have been on the Sprint All-Star Fan Vote campaign trail as the race is less than two weeks away. My Tried and TrueX campaign is going really well. I’m actually having more fun than expected. I’ve made appearances on NASCAR Smarts and NASCAR Race Day on SPEED. I’ve also visited The Sprint Experience. This weekend at Dover, I’ll be a guest on Trackside which will air Friday night at 7 p.m. on SPEED. But for the first time ever, I’ve actually shot some vignettes that are now appearing on You Tube. Feel free to check out my first two Vote for Martin: Tried and TrueX spots at: and .


Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Hi Everyone,

I love night racing because it’s how most of us got started. I also like it because I get to sleep in. When it comes to Richmond, I love going there. I’ve had chances to win and I’ve also road the wall. I’ve done a lot of things. It’s a fun track that’s very challenging. It’s an accomplishment when you can run well.

During our two practices on Friday, we were pretty good in race trim, as far as speed and lap times were concerned. Then we went to qualifying trim near the end of Happy Hour and it did the same things it did in race trim — it just wasn’t fast. When we qualified, the track was really slick and it was hard to get a hold of. I just couldn’t get the car to turn at all and I couldn’t get any power down. I was disappointed with our 26th-place start because I normally qualify well. Despite our qualifying effort, I thought we were going to race well. It’s a long race – 400 laps so there was plenty of time to get to the front with our starting spot. 

When I left Richmond, I was feeling great! Our night looked easy on paper, but it was a tough night. We had to battle hard. We were really bad at the beginning of the race. I told Pat during the caution with about 10 laps to go that it didn’t matter what happened, I have never ever in my racing career experienced what we went through. Starting that bad and being able to make adjustments to constantly get better was amazing. For awhile, we were the best car on the track according to the Lap Tracker.

We’ll just keep digging. Our team is a work in progress. I love this team. They are doing a great job for me. I just got to thank NAPA and Toyota and everybody on the car for giving me this opportunity to come out of Richmond with a top-10 finish.

In case you missed it, I was hot on the campaign trail for the Sprint All-Star Fan Vote in Richmond. I campaigned on NASCAR Race Hub, NASCAR Smarts and NASCAR Race Day. I also visited the Sprint Experience to encourage fans to cast their vote at the Sprint Fan Vote display. I also want to thank Rutledge and Kyle Petty for endorsing me for at least 30 minutes during the NASCAR Smarts show. If I win the vote, I am taking them fishing. As I said before, if you have some time, please vote for me. Every vote counts! Vote here:

Coming up this weekend, I will be heading to my favorite track Darlington. The timing couldn’t be better as I will be going head-to-head against Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin in the finals of the DirecTV Head 2 Head Knockout program. If I can outrun all of them, I will take home $285,000 for my foundation. So far I have won $35,000 for my foundation so I want to thank DirecTV for allowing me to participate in this awesome program!

Enjoy watching the race this Saturday night!