White Line Fever: Carmichael and #4 Oakley Chevy Trucks Around Martinsville
Just three races into his rookie season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Ricky Carmichael was hit from behind, sent spinning into a multi-car wreck and placed an ill-deserved 24th on the 2.5-mile Daytona superspeedway, was eighth at the 2.0-mile Auto Club Speedway D-oval in Fontana, California and was, due to no fault of his own, crashed at 180 miles per hour-plus on the 1.54 mile Atlanta Motor Speedway.
But now comes round four of the series: The Kroger 250. A 250-lap, 131.5-mile race staged on Martinsville Speedway, a 0.5276-mile, 12-degree banked oval, it is the smallest at oldest track in all of NASCAR. Still alive and kicking after 62 years, Martinsville actually ran its very first NASCAR race on July 4, 1948.
What makes Martinsville so unique, and perhaps a bit intimidating, to Ricky Carmichael is that it will be the very first short track event he’ll race his
- Oakley/KHI All-Stars Chevrolet Silverado upon.
But so far, so good. In Friday’s opening 50-minute practice session, a session which Carmichael and crew chief Bill Wilburn used to get the #4 Oakley Silverado set-up and in race trim for Saturday afternoon’s race, Ricky Carmichael ran well, putting in 36 laps and clocking the 13tth quickest time at 20.280 at 93.373 miles per hour.
Teammate Kevin Harvick was third fastest with a lap timed at 20.064 at 94.444 miles per hour, while the third member of the KHI All- Stars team, Ron Hornaday, was seventh fastest, hustling his Longhorn Silverado around the 0.526-mile paperclip in 20.172 seconds and at 93.873 miles per hour.
With Martinsville waiting for the battleship skies to open up and begin spitting down rain, the second and significantly longer practice session – running from 1:45 P.M. to 3:30 P.M. – started with quite a bit of trepidation. Sure enough, a few minutes into the session, the rains came and out came the jet dryers, all 36 trucks brought to a halt.
“Man, I’m glad to be here in the Oakley Truck,” said Carmichael during the rain delay that ultimately abbreviated the final practice session. “I’ve been with Oakley since 1991, when I was an amateur. And this place is awesome. This place is really cool. I can’t wait to race tomorrow. I’ve had a blast on this track from the very first lap I went out. I’m excited, man. I was not that fast in the second practice as I had some pretty worn tires from a spin I had in the opening practice. We kept the old tires on, but I felt great. If might not be ready now, but I’ll be ready when the racing starts. When the race gets going on Saturday, that’s when I’m going to put it out there. That’s when I’ll race.”
Added Ron Hornaday, Carmichael’s veteran teammate and 1996, 1998 and 2007 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion, “It’s great Oakley stepped-up to get Ricky here,” he said. “This is his first time at Martinsville and I think he’ll do awesome here.”
Qualifying for the Kroger 250 will take place tomorrow morning at 9:10 A.M. The Kroger 250 will then air live on the Fox Network on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 P.M. (EST) and 11 A.M. (PST). Make some popcorn, crack a cold one and be sure to be there in front of your TV yelling and screaming for the #4 Oakley Chevrolet.
Words by Eric Johnson