|SOURCE: NASCAR Media|
Martins, a 29-year-old owner-driver from Como, Mississippi, made his NASCAR debut in 2009, finishing 22nd in the Truck Series race at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. The next year, he made his superspeedway debut with the ARCA Racing Series at Daytona, and finished a sterling 8th. In 2014, Martins and team moved to the XFINITY Series, where he made 11 of his 17 attempts in mostly-unsponsored Fords and Doges. His season-best again came on the plate tracks, this time a 14th at Talladega in his Dodge. However, after eight DNFs and continued sponsorship woes, Martins and team left the series at midseason.
Friday’s Daytona race marked Martins’ first NASCAR attempt since his DNQ for the 2014 XFINITY Series race at Indianapolis. He would run truck #44, the same number he ran in his series debut seven years ago, and carried sponsorship from Diamond Gusset Jeans, which ran on his successful XFINITY effort at Talladega. This time, he would also have technical support from Gallagher Motorsports, whose trucks started on the front row.
Martins ran 17th and 21st-fasted in the weekend’s two practice sessions, but was still one of 43 entries going for 32 spots in a very competitive field. He struggled in qualifying, needing to rely on a provisional to start 28th with a speed of 173.685 mph, but most importantly was in the show. Among the 11 DNQs were eight Chevrolets as well as series regulars Norm Benning, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Ryan Ellis, and Mike Harmon.
Starting 32nd on Friday was Travis Kvapil, whose unsponsored MAKE Motorsports #50 made the show with the Past Champion’s Provisional. Kvapil moved out of last on Lap 3 en route to a fifth-place finish, his first in the series since 2012, putting Frenchman Michel Disdier’s #07 Pray For Paris Chevrolet to the final spot. Meanwhile, the next time by, Martins had worked his way toward the Top 20 when the right-front tire went down, sending him hard into the outside wall in Turn 4, drawing the first caution of the night.
Martins’ crew got the #44 fixed quick enough to stay on the lead lap, and the race went green again on Lap 10. In seconds, Martins had moved past Tyler Young’s #02 Randco / Young’s Building Systems Chevrolet to put Young in last. Just one lap later, in the exact same spot as before, the right-front failed Martins again, and he this time hit the wall hard enough to knock him out of the race.
Finishing 31st on Friday was Cody Coughlin, whose #18 Jegs / Spillfix Toyota wrecked with Spencer Gallagher’s #23 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet when several leaders tried to duck onto pit road before the 20-minute Caution Clock expired. 30th went to Jordan Anderson, whose brand-new #66 Columbia SC - Famously Hot Chevrolet broke a rear gear and stopped on the track on Lap 78. Rounding out the Bottom Five were Rico Abreu and Daniel Suarez, whose Toyotas were among the 18 drivers involved in a grinding Turn 3 wreck with six laps to go.
For more on Tommy Joe Martins, check out his website at http://tommyjoemartins.com/
*This is the first last-place finish for the #44 in a Truck Series race since February 21, 2009, when local driver Lance Hooper left the San Bernardino County 200 after 2 laps when his unsponsored #44 Key Motorsports Chevrolet picked up a vibration.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
32) #44-Tommy Joe Martins / 11 laps / crash
31) #18-Cody Coughlin / 41 laps / crash
30) #66-Jordan Anderson / 75 laps / rear gear
29) #98-Rico Abreu / 92 laps / crash
28) #51-Daniel Suarez / 2 laps / crash
2016 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER’S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Tommy Joe Martins (1)
2016 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER’S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Tommy Joe Martins (1)
2016 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER’S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (1)