Unheralded rookie Tommy Joe Martins fastest in second Nationwide practice at ‘Dega; Jeffrey Earnhardt second-fast
May 1, 2014, 7:21 PM EDT
Nationwide Series rookie Tommy Joe Martins will have one heck of a story to tell his children and grandchildren one day.
The Como, Miss., native, who drives for his family’s Martins Motorsports, will be able to regale his heirs with the tale of how for at least one practice session, he was the fastest NNS driver at one of the most challenging tracks there is, Talladega SuperSpeedway.
Martins covered the 2.66-mile track, NASCAR’s largest oval, at a field-best 185.891 mph, the fastest speed in the second of Thursday’s two Nationwide Series practice sessions for Saturday’s Aaron’s 312.
Another surprise at second-fastest was Jeffrey Earnhardt, grandson of the late Dale Earnhardt, who was just .014 behind Martins at 185.877 mph.
Fifth-fastest was Brendan Gaughan (185.136), while sixth- through 10th-fastest were Ryan Sieg (185.122), Brian Scott (185.097), John Wes Townley (184.455), Dakoda Armstrong (184.242) and Josh Wise (183.561).
One of the other big surprises – actually, more of a shock, given he’s already won two NNS races this season – was series points leader Chase Elliott, who was just 26th-fastest at just 175.748 mph. In the earlier afternoon practice session, Elliott was 19th-fastest at 184.573 mph.
Only 29 drivers took to the track for the latter afternoon practice (compared to 36 drivers who practiced in the earlier afternoon session).
Thus far this season, Martins has qualified and raced in five of the first eight NNS races, with his best finish being 30th three weeks ago at Darlington. It was also the only race he’s finished this season, albeit six laps behind the leaders.
Martins, who is ranked 30th in the NNS standings coming into Saturday’s race, has recorded DNFs in the four other races he’s competed in this season.
He did not enter the season-opening event at Daytona and withdrew from both Phoenix and Bristol.
Follow me @JerryBonkowski
Video from NASCAR America
- NASCAR AMERICA: Jeff Gordon, 24 team make statement at Dover (VIDEO) 0
- Weekend wrap-up: Was first Chase elimination race an exciting one? 0
- Tony Stewart speaks, cites overwhelming support in the search of return to normalcy 15
- Simon Pagenaud confirmed at Team Penske in fourth IndyCar 3
- Jeff Gordon advances to next round of Chase with first Dover victory since 2001 6
- Open letter from Kevin Ward Jr.’s aunt questions Tony Stewart, evidence of marijuana in nephew’s system 49
- Kyle Busch outduels Joey Logano for Nationwide win in Dover 2