Iconic Jesse Jones Hot Dogs out at Martinsville Speedway, replaced by another brand

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When fans go to concession stands at Martinsville Speedway next weekend seeking the “Famous Martinsville Speedway Hot Dog,” for the first time in nearly seven decades the red hots and chili will not be produced by Jesse Jones Southern Style Hot Dogs.

Calling it a business decision, the track has elected to switch to Valleydale Hot Dogs, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, which is a primary sponsor on Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Sprint Cup car of Aric Almirola.

But according to Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway, the new hot dog and chili will taste the same as the old standby. And the price will remain the same at $2.

“Does anybody think I’m crazy enough to change something so iconic and so cherished as the ‘Famous Martinsville Speedway Hot Dog?’ ” Campbell told NASCAR Talk. “We’re not in the habit of taking steps backward, we’re always going forward. The fans will still have the ‘Famous Martinsville Speedway Hot Dog,’ and it’ll be just as good as it has been. I assure you that.

“We wouldn’t do anything to change that. No. 1, my grandfather (speedway founder H. Clay Earles) would come back to get me if I did, and Bill France Jr. would be after me. So we’re not changing it to where fans will notice any difference whatsoever. The color, taste and texture will still be the same.”

The move ends one of the longest relationships between a speedway and vendor in NASCAR annals, Jesse Jones motorsports marketing director Stephen Drummond said.

“This goes back to 1947, it was a handshake agreement,” Drummond told NASCAR Talk. “We had no desire to pull the plug, we just didn’t have the funding to compete with an international company (Smithfield Foods).”

Drummond, whose company markets primarily in the Carolinas and Virginia, estimated that more than 1 million Jesse Jones hot dogs have been sold at the 0.526-mile short track in southwest Virginia over its 132-race NASCAR history.

“We’re a very small company that produces a very unique hot dog,” Drummond said. “Martinsville adopted us as their hot dog. They decided that this hot dog is unique and wanted us to be their hot dog.”

This is the second time that Martinsville Speedway has changed hot dog vendors. The first time lasted just a few hours when, shortly after International Speedway Corp. purchased the track in 2004, the company’s Americrown food service subsidiary took over concessions at the racetrack.

“The teams came in there for testing and qualifying and complained profusely to Bill France (Jr.), and before the end of lunch that day, they had switched back to Jesse Jones hot dogs,” Drummond said. “There’s a lot of emotional attachment with the fans to the hot dogs.

“It doesn’t make or break us, by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just a tradition that’s gone along the wayside, and it’s really more that it’s going to be upsetting to I think everybody.

“The most important thing to us is people understand and know that it’s not a Jesse Jones hot dog.”

Race fans in the area still will be able to buy the hot dogs at local stores, as well as at racetracks such as South Boston (Va.) Speedway and Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C.

While it’s hard to change tradition after 67 years, Campbell said Jesse Jones has been a great partner over that time.

“We’ve had a great relationship throughout the years,” Campbell said. “They did a good job for us, and in turn, we sold a lot of hot dogs for them. A lot. It worked both ways, but sometimes things just change, and that was the case here.”

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NBC Sports Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin remains No. 1 after Kansas

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For the second consecutive week, Denny Hamlin is atop this week’s NBC Sports’ NASCAR Power Rankings.Hamlin was selected unanimously.

Making the biggest jump in the rankings was Kyle Busch (from tied for seventh last week to No. 2 this week).

Falling the most was Ryan Blaney, who dropped from second last week to a tie for ninth this week.

Here are the power rankings ahead of the Round of 8 playoff race at Martinsville Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC):

1. Denny Hamlin (40 points): Kansas win is his fifth of the season, tying for his most victories in a season since 2012. The question grows louder: Is this the year he finally wins a Cup title? Last week: First.

2. Kyle Busch (34 points): While he remains mired in one of the longest winless streaks of his career, it’s hard to imagine him not rising to the occasion in the next three races to assure his spot at Miami. Last week: Tied for seventh.

3. Chase Elliott (33 points): He just barely avoided elimination at Kansas. He needs to win one of the next three races if he’s to be assured of racing for the championship. The question is, can he? Last week: Third.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (29 points): Slow pit stop late hurt him but still finished sixth. Has five finishes of seventh or better in the last six races. Last week: Tied for seventh.

5. Kevin Harvick (23 points): It’s time for “the Closer” to reemerge in the next three races to lock himself into a championship berth at Miami. Don’t be surprised if he wins at Texas or Phoenix – or both. Last week: Sixth.

6. Jimmie Johnson (11 points): While his strong performance in the last five races – four top-10s and one 11th-place finish – has come a little too late, Johnson could really shake up the playoffs with a win in the third round. He’s capable and has been building towards it. Will it happen? Last week: Unranked.

7. Kyle Larson (10 points): Not a clean day at Kansas. He and his team need to step up in the Round of 8. Last week: Tied for fourth.

8. William Byron (9 points): After a strong Kansas showing, could be a dark horse in the final four races. While eliminated from the playoffs, he still has the potential to win a race, particularly at a short track like Martinsville or Phoenix. Last week: Unranked.

(tie) 9. Joey Logano (8 points): Yes, Joey is right, every point matters. That attitude is why he’s still alive in these playoffs. Last week: Tied for fourth.

(tie) 9. Ryan Blaney (8 points): See Kyle Larson. It’s pretty much the same story for Blaney. Last week: Second.

Others receiving votes: Clint Bowyer (6 points), Kurt Busch (3 points), Ryan Preece (3 points), Brandon Jones (2 points), Matt DiBenedetto (1 point).

Goodyear tire info for Martinsville Speedway

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NASCAR Cup and Truck teams continue their respective playoffs this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

The Cup Series begins its Round of 8, while the Gander Outdoors Truck Series will contest its middle race of the Round of 6.

Cup and Truck teams will run the same tire setup at Martinsville, the same tires both series have run at the .526-mile bullring since 2017.

It’s getting later in the fall and we are likely to have cloudy conditions and temperatures in the 60-degree range at Martinsville this week, so track temps will be low, making it more difficult for the track to take rubber,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “Because of the time of year we run at Martinsville, we’ve worked hard over the past several years to come up with a tread compound that will lay rubber in the concrete corners, even in cool temperatures.

Generally, Martinsville has produced some of the best racing on the circuit and that only seems to have been enhanced by the track consistently taking rubber and having multiple racing lines. We continue to work on keeping up with Martinsville and making adjustments where needed, holding a test there this past summer and looking ahead to 2020 when we will have a full fledged night race at the track.”

According to wunderground.com, the forecast calls for a temperature of 58 degrees with a 40 percent chance of rain at the scheduled 1:30 p.m. ET start time for Saturday’s Truck race, and a temperature of 66 degrees with a 19 percent chance of green flag at the 3 p.m. ET scheduled start time for Sunday’s Cup race.

Here is the tire information for this weekend’s races at Martinsville:

Tire: Goodyear Eagle Short Track Radials

Set limits: Cup: 3 sets for practice, 1 set for qualifying/start of race and 9 sets for race (8 race sets plus 1 set transferred from qualifying or practice); Truck: 5 sets for the event.

Tire Codes: Left-side — D-4588; Right-side – D-4722

Tire Circumference: Left-side — 2,221 mm (87.44 in.); Right-side — 2,251 mm (88.62 in.)

Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front — 10 psi; Left Rear — 10 psi; Right Front — 23 psi; Right Rear — 22 psi

As on most NASCAR ovals 1 mile or less in length, teams will not run inner liners in their tires at Martinsville.

NASCAR penalty report after Kansas

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NASCAR issued one penalty from this past weekend’s racing action at Kansas Speedway.

Chris Gayle, crew chief for the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Cup Toyota driven by Erik Jones, has been fined $10,000 for lug nut(s) not properly installed following Sunday’s race.

There were no penalties assessed to the teams of Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick stemming from the altercation following Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.

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Ron Hornaday Jr., Bobby Labonte to take part in Martinsville Truck race activities

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Martinsville Speedway will honor one NASCAR Hall of Famer and one inductee before Saturday’s NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 Truck Series race.

Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. will serve as grand marshal for the race, while Bobby Labonte, who will be inducted into the Hall in January, will serve as the honorary starter.

Bobby Labonte. Photo: Getty Images.

We are honored to have 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Ron Hornaday Jr. as Grand Marshal and 2020 inductee Bobby Labonte as Honorary Starter at the first NASCAR Hall of Fame 200,” NASCAR Hall of Fame executive director Winston Kelly said in a statement. “Ron is the series’ only four-time champion. As the 2000 premier series champion and 1992 Xfinity champion, Bobby is one of only 31 drivers who has won races in all three NASCAR national series with his lone truck series win coming at Martinsville.”

Said Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway: “We appreciate the NASCAR Hall of Fame making it possible to have two great NASCAR champions available to meet our fans Saturday morning before the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200. Having Ron and Bobby be a part of our race weekend is special for everyone at Martinsville Speedway.”

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