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Tommy Joe Martins providing unique perspective in blog

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What started out as race recaps have become a must-read blog by Tommy Joe Martins.

Driver of the Martins Motorsports No. 44 Chevrolet in the Camping World Truck Series, Martins posted an entry June 17 after the Texas race that took off on social media. Titled Relevance, Martins revealed his mindset each weekend and how hard the sport is for an underfunded team.

Reaction to his blog has been mostly positive. Fans on social media have expressed an interest in reading, and Martins hopes he’s giving them what they want. Some drivers have expressed their support.

“Especially from guys kind of in the same situation as me, or maybe who are driving for smaller underfunded teams,” Martins told NBC Sports. “Maybe I’m equipped to kind of speak for us as a group in that sense because I’ve kind of been a knockaround guy out here for a little while now. I’ve never really driven for a team that had the capability of running up front.

“So guys like me or Ryan Ellis, or a few of those other guys in the back, maybe I’m equipped a little better to tell those stories. I think it’s resonated with a lot of the mechanics and drivers in my same situation.”

The idea behind the entries was born from a disdain for press releases.

“I think press releases are the most useless, terrible writing in the history of the world, and that’s what all the teams are doing, especially the big ones,” Martins said. “That’s no fault of the PR person; there’s just a format to it. They write about, ‘Well, this is what happened,’ and ‘On Lap 72, we changed tires,’ and there just wasn’t much to it, and every one of them seems like it’s the exact same thing.

“You have a quote from the driver that’s probably made up, or they probably didn’t say it, and writing the thing in third person is just not very good to me. It’s not very entertaining.”

With a degree in journalism from Ole Miss, Martins always has enjoyed writing. Blogging has been an easy venture, though Martins has an extra set of eyes look over each article.

“I’ve got an editor that’s a friend of mine from college named Alex McDaniel, and she works for Gridiron Now, and she’s done a lot of stuff with Parade magazine,” Martins said. “I have her look over the article before I post it, and I basically write whatever I want to write.”

There are some things Martins will not get into.

Well-spoken and passionate about the sport, as well as his place in it, do not expect Martins to take any shots at NASCAR. There are areas he would like to see changed, and he would like to see NASCAR handle some things differently, but as a competitor, Martins will play it smart.

“Quite frankly, we’re poor, and we can’t really afford for me to get fined, so I can’t do some things that maybe I’d like to do,” he said. “But those are minor things. For the most part has it been tough? No, it really hasn’t been. It hasn’t been difficult. The first blog was the easiest one just because I think it flowed. I wrote that whole article in 30 minutes, and that was a pretty long one.”

But there have been those he unintentionally rubbed the wrong way.

“That first article I talked about a really kind of taboo thing, the money involved in the sport, and I think that’s something that people don’t really like to talk about, which I don’t really know why,” Martins said. “I think it’s pretty obvious nobody poor is going to make it in this sport anymore. We don’t really have to dance around that, and I called some people out because I feel like they generally tried to make themselves out a lot [poorer] than they really are.”

Jordan Anderson was one driver who took offense, leading to a conversation between the two.

“He said, ‘Hey man, I don’t know if I like you anymore because you wrote that article and said basically we’re spending more money than you and we’re not spending much money at all,’ ” Martins said. “Jordan is a nice guy, and I love Jordan. Basically, I’m racing with him every week we’re side by side a lot, so I’m not trying to rub anybody the wrong way. I just said what I thought was the truth and how I perceived everything, and especially how the guys in the garage perceived it. So I wasn’t trying to rub anybody the wrong way.”

With the fun he’s been having, Martins has no plans to stop his blog.

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Tyler Ankrum joins DGR-Crosley to contend for Rookie Truck honors

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Tyler Ankrum will move to the Gander Outdoors Truck Series in 2019 to compete for Rookie of the Year honors with DGR-Crosley, the driver and team announced on Twitter.

In 2018, Ankrum won the K&N East Championship with DGR-Crosley through four wins, nine top fives and 12 top 10s in 14 starts. Ankrum won three consecutive races at Thompson (CT) Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Iowa Speedway during the summer. His other victory came in May at South Boston (VA) Speedway.

Ankrum made two starts in the Truck series last year – scoring a top 10 in one of those races. He finished sixth at ISM Raceway.

“Taking the next step of my racing career is mind blowing,” Ankrum said in a tweet. “And I’m lucky enough to do it again with DGR-Crosley and Toyota Racing in 2019.”

Last year’s K&N Championship came in his rookie campaign in that series.

 

Vote for best 2018 Cup paint schemes

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It’s time to take stock of the 2018 Cup season.

That means voting in the best paint schemes of the year tournament.

The NBC Sports tournament has now reached its final four.

Here’s the bracket so far.

Bubba Wallace, RPM reinlist US Air Force as two-race sponsor

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Richard Petty Motorsports will continue to receive support from the United States military. On Friday, they announced the US Air Force will continue as a primary sponsor in 2019 as well as a major associate sponsor throughout the season on Bubba Wallace’s No. 43.

The two races for which the Air Force will be the primary sponsor are Saturday, July 6 at Daytona International Speedway (4th of July weekend) and Sunday, Nov. 10 (Veteran’s Day weekend) at ISM Raceway. Last year during his rookie campaign, Wallace finished in the top 15 in both of those races. He was 14th in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona and 10th at ISM.

“The Air Force continues to see benefits from our partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports and driver, Bubba Wallace,” said Major Ross McKnight, Chief, Air Force National Events Branch at Air Force Recruiting Service in a press release. “Wallace Jr. and his personality align well with our target audience’s interests and the Air Force’s commitment to teamwork and technology. The combination of Bubba Wallace and the iconic No. 43 provides a continuing sponsorship opportunity that reflects our Air Force core values of Integrity, Service and Excellence, as well as has a positive impact on generating public awareness about the U.S. Air Force, our people and our mission.

“Like NASCAR, much of our work is based on science, technology, engineering and math principles combined with teamwork and training. This sponsorship is a great way to highlight that connection.”

Last year, Wallace visited four Air Force bases. He participated in drills at each and flew in an F-16 with the 77th Fighter Squadron “Gamblers” at Shaw AFB in South Carolina.

“I was really impressed with all the different aspects of the Air Force, and the different opportunities they offer,” said Wallace Jr. “I was able to visit different bases and see the Airmen in action and actually participate myself. That gets me excited and then I’m able to talk to inspiring students who are looking at a career in the Air Force. I’m pretty humbled to represent the Air Force.”

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John Hunter Nemechek, Chase Briscoe approved to run for Xfinity Rookie of the Year

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NASCAR has approved John Hunter Nemechek and Chase Briscoe to compete for the Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year title in 2019, NBC Sports has confirmed.

Nemechek made 18 Xfinity starts in 2018 with Chip Ganassi Racing while Briscoe made 17 with Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush Fenway Racing.

Nemechek will compete for GMS Racing in the No. 23 Chevrolet. Briscoe will drive the No. 98 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing.

When Nemechek was announced on Dec. 6 as joining GMS Racing, a team press release said he would compete for Rookie of the Year. But a NASCAR spokesperson said his eligibility had not been decided on at the time.

The Rookie of the Year title was not mentioned in SHR’s Nov. 27 press release about Briscoe going full-time.

The Xfinity rookie field next year will include Nemechek, Briscoe, Noah Gragson in JR Motorsports’ No. 1 Chevrolet and Justin Haley in Kaulig Racing’s No. 11 Chevrolet.

Briscoe said in an Q&A on Reddit he was “honestly surprised” he was approved.

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