The Chrome Horn News



    Tim Brown left Martinsville Speedway a year ago wondering “what if.” He doesn’t want a repeat performance this time around in the Made In America 300 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event.
    Brown ran in the top five most of the night last year, but a pit gamble, a downpour and a slow-moving tow truck wiped out a shot at victory or even a top-five finish for the Cana, Va., driver.
    We had a really good car. The rain really hurt us,” Brown recalled recently. “We thought we did the right thing, stopping and getting tires when we did. But the rain came and finally stayed and that hurt us. We had a really good car, better than what we finished.”
    This year’s Made In America Whelen 300 is set for Saturday, September 1, and unlike the two previous editions, it will be a one-day show, with practice set for 1 p.m., qualifying at 5, an on-track autograph session at 6:30 and the 300-lap race taking the green at 8 p.m. It is the only race held under the lights at Martinsville Speedway each year.
    The Made In America 300 is a turf war of sorts. It is the only time each season entries from both the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, a New England-based series, and the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour go head-to-head. Last year Brown was tops among the southern drivers, but thinks he can do even better than that ninth-place finish this time around.
    “We wound up winning the southern side, but we want to go to Martinsville this year and win the whole thing,” said Brown.
    He certainly held his own with the best of the northern tour a year ago. He ran in the top five most of the evening and was running directly behind eventual winner Jimmy Blewett when his team made the fateful decision to pit for tires.
    “We had a really, really good car last year,” recalled Brown. “We qualified in the top 10. Things were real strong for us. We were on the top of the board in happy hour … the fastest car, which is strong for a southern car.
    “We just bided our time in the race and played it cool, stayed in the top five. But we just made a mistake to come and get tires just before the rain came and stayed.”
    More than the weather hampered Brown’s effort, though. When he made that final pit stop under caution, a tow truck hauling in a wrecked racer blocked his exit. He made a judgment call and wound up being penalized a lap.
    “They were dragging a car in the exit of pit road and I couldn’t get by it. When the wrecker got out of the way, I ran the stop sign just because the wrecker had held me up,” said Brown. “Then NASCAR held me a lap (for ignoring the stop sign). I had to race my way back on the lead lap. I think without all the controversy, we had a car capable of winning the race.
    “But the penalty isn’t what cost us. It was stopping for tires when we did and then the rain coming. After we stopped for tires, we didn’t run 20 green flag laps before the rain came.”
    Brown believes last year’s race was a tremendous learning experience for him and his team and that they should roll back into town this Labor Day weekend armed with much more experience and knowledge.
    “Basically we know what to do to the car this year. The tires we run at Martinsville are the ones the northern guys run all the time and we don’t get to run on them often,” explained Brown. “Every time we run them, we get more familiar with them. Last year in happy hour we hit on something that the car liked for that tire and we were fast and stayed fast on that setup.
    “This time we’ll start with that setup and we should be fast right off the truck.”
    Tickets for the Made In America Whelen 300 are $20 for adults and $5 for children age 5-12. Children under 5 will be admitted free.
    Tickets may be purchased at the track’s ticket office, by calling 877.RACE.TIX or by visiting online.


Source  Mike Smith/Martinsville Speedway PR
Posted:  August 9, 2007

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