Race Weekend Central

In racing, there has always been a gap between the financially endowed super teams and the homegrown family run teams. In shops where no championship banners hang from the rafters, crews in mismatched uniforms or jeans and t-shirts turn wrenches at all hours of the day and night. The mission is to compete, to be relevant. The odds against winning are close to astronomical and often the primary concern isn’t whether the car is fast enough to win but simply fast enough to start.

Tommy Joe Martins has been on the long side of those odds for most of his decade long NASCAR career. While this may be his first official foray into the NASCAR world as both an owner and a driver, Martins has become a fixture on the “other” side of the garage.

Martins Motorsports has four full time employees, as well as a handful of people who help out at the track on a part time basis. The team rents a pit crew through Xcalibur, a pit crew training school based in Mooresville,  NC. Despite all of the shortcomings, Martins wound up 10th on Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway, his first top 10 finish in a national touring series race.

2020 didn’t start out well for Martins, as his No. 44 Chevrolet wasn’t fast enough to qualify for the opener at Daytona. But he said that the team knew that was a possibility and it wasn’t as much of a setback as one might imagine. “We knew going down to Daytona, that was not our best piece. We just knew that and we prepared the best that we could but it just wasn’t enough and we missed the race by under a tenth of a second.”

“We kinda were aiming for the mile and a halfs so we felt like our mile and a half program might be good. So we went to Las Vegas and we were well inside the top 15 in that race and showed, honestly, more speed than I thought we could ever show.”

“There’s 12 teams that are full time in our series that are essentially Cup affiliated level teams. Then you get back into like Ryan Sieg, who has done an incredible job building that program up, Jeremy Clements and Brandon Brown. Those are kinda the next three and that’s 15 cars. So if you’re inside the top 15 on speed early in the race when there hasn’t been a lot of attrition, that’s basically saying you’re a playoff caliber team. The fact that we’ve done that at four or five races this year has been a pleasant  surprise and further along than I thought we’d be in year one of this thing.”



About the author


Frank Velat has been an avid follower of NASCAR and other motorsports for over 20 years. He brings a blend of passionate fan and objective author to his work. Frank offers unique perspectives that everyone can relate to, remembering the sport's past all the while embracing its future. Follow along with @FrankVelat on Twitter.

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