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NASCAR drama helps Speedway sell tickets

Thursday, March 28, 2013

By DOUG POWELL AND MARK THOMPSON - Bulletin Sports Writers

Although crew members pulled Tony Stewart away from Joey Logano after a post-race scuffle started between the two drivers on Sunday at the Auto Club 400 in Fontana, Calif., the fight still produced a winner — Martinsville Speedway.

Speedway president Clay Campbell said ticket sales are up for the STP Gas Booster 500 on April 7 at the half-mile track, the next stop in the Sprint Cup Series schedule.

“Our ticket sales have been up every day. Our ticket sales started picking up Sunday night. Sunday night they were above last year at the same time. Monday was a record day, Tuesday was a record day, and we’re on track today (Wednesday) to do it again,” said Campbell, who explained that the Speedway compares daily ticket sales year-to-year. “Sales have been really brisk since Sunday.”

Of course, it wasn’t just the fight that has Campbell and racing fans excited. Kyle Busch won the closely contested race after avoiding a final-lap wreck between Logano and former-teammate-turned-rival Denny Hamlin. That wreck put Hamlin out of the sport for six weeks with a compression fracture in his lower back and comes after the two drivers have been at odds.

The feud between Hamlin and Logano spilled over into Twitter and dominated the storylines going into the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway. The finish and fight only gave fans more to gush over during the Sprint Cup Series schedule’s Easter break this weekend and the week leading up to Martinsville.

“Everybody’s talking about it, so that’s good,” Campbell said. “You’d much rather have that than the week after a race, nobody is talking about it, and everyone’s saying, ‘Oh, what a boring race that was.’ That’s got to help sell tickets and that’s what we’re in the business to do.”

Campbell admitted that it’s hard to quantify exactly how much the carryover from Fontana has affected sales, because he doesn’t know the motive of each buyer.

“But you know it’s got to help,” he said.

Wallace, Coulter have high

expectations at Martinsville

Nineteen-year-old Darrell Wallace Jr. finished 12th at Daytona International Speedway in his first career Camping World Truck Series start on Feb. 22 in Daytona Beach, Fla.

For his second start in the series — this one at Martinsville Speedway on April 6 — he’s raised the bar.

“(With) a 12th here, I wouldn’t be too happy,” said Wallace, who is one of NASCAR’s “Next 9” drivers that represents the sport’s future. “You know, short track is kind of more where I grew up so I should be ready for what comes here. I’m hoping for a top 10 here. Top 5 would be great, but anything outside of those two is unacceptable in my book.”

His teammate at Kyle Busch Motorsports, Joey Coulter, has already achieved that. Coulter has two top-5 finishes in four Truck races at Martinsville Speedway. Coulter joined KBM after previously racing at Richard Childress Racing, where he earned those top-5 finishes. Both times, he lost to Denny Hamlin, who is also with KBM, and won the fall race in October.

Coulter believes the change in teams may be the difference in him winning his first grandfather clock.

“I think the winning combination is being in the No. 18 (truck) at KBM,” he said. “We ran great at RCR, but looking back at the stats, the KBM trucks, when they ran, were just a little bit better.”

Now that Coulter is working under the same umbrella as Hamlin, he said he will try to pick the Chesterfield native’s brain as much as possible about the track.

Lengthy Truck

Series break almost over

Joey Coulter and Darrell Wallace Jr. have not raced since Feb. 22 in Daytona.

“We’ve kind of had a second offseason since Daytona,” Coulter said. “It’s been quite a big break, but we’re excited to get back rolling.”

It’s been a layoff that has affected the drivers both physically and mentally — or so they say.

“Im not even sure if I remember how to drive,” Wallace joked. “But it will be good to be back here at Martinsville.”

It’s difficult for the drivers to prepare for the upcoming Kroger 250 race in Martinsville without racing very much.

Wallace has prepared with a little gaming.

“I’ve been trying to do a lot of racing ... on Xbox,” Wallace said. “I don’t think that really counts, but it’s tough when you’ve had such a big break.

Wallace will make his first start at the half-mile Martinsville Speedway in next month’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.

Coulter has made four career Truck series starts at the half-mile oval track, but has never won. He finished third in 2011’s fall race.

 

 
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