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Mike Looney fastest in Martinsville Late Model open test

The 2016 race winner was fastest but was not the most confident after six hours

Martinsville Speedway

Mike Looney came up just short in his pursuit of a Whelen All-American Series NASCAR National Championship this summer but left Martinsville Speedway feeling confident that he could leave next weekend with a second grandfather clock as a consolation prize.

The 2016 ValleyStar Credit Union 300 winner topped the charts during Thursday night’s open test but was adamant his typically humble way that the time was not indicative of his pace throughout the evening.

Looney’s 20.088 was quickest but only after a majority of the field mocked-up for a qualifying run. Looney said he was unhappy throughout most of the evening before finally starting to get a handle on his No. 87 once the sun set and rubber was laid down.

“Oh, we learned a lot of stuff that did’t work,” Looney said “We got a lot of a lot of information. We’ve found some stuff that did work too. What we learned is that the daylight set-up from when we won here in 2016 is no good at night.

“We thrashed. The guys worked really hard on the race car and I’m just so proud of my team. We changed pretty much everything on our car. Six, seven, eight springs. I don’t know how many sway bars. My guys looked like a Cup team the way they made all these changes, getting the car on the scale and off the scale. All I had to do is stand here and look pretty.”

Peyton Sellers, the 2005 NASCAR national champion, still looking for his first Martinsville Speedway victory was third. Like Looney, he was satisfied with where they finished up the night, but Sellers just could not get the feel he wanted until the session ended.

“This track changed more from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. that it had all day,” Sellers said. “So, overall, I think it was very beneficial. We made a qualifying run late in practice and didn’t go any faster, just got looser and I think it was the track freeing up some as dew rolled in and the temperature changed.

“I think experiencing that will help us a lot going in the next weekend. So, it was definitely a good day to be out here. You know, it’s hard to believe we run six hours with not a car spinning, no caution at all. I mean it went very smooth. So a lot of fast cars here today, that’s for sure. A lot of good cars here.”

Defending winner C.E. Falk III finished eigth, but like everyone else who posted fast times, he’s not totally sure what he has next week either. He tried several different brake packages and tore the car apart trying to find a better feel for his No. 40.

He says his victory in last year’s race has actually taken the pressure off test day.

“You know, the pressure is completely gone,” Falk said. “You know, we were cutting up today and it was fun. We worked really hard but usually during the test we get like ‘hurry up, hurry up,’ and there was none of that today. We just too k out time. We worked on our car all day and feel like we’ve caught up to everyone else.”

The session ran six hours from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. without a single incident. At least 78 cars took a lap but only 48 of them had a transponder.

The race will take place next weekend on Friday and Saturday, both under the lights. The race will air live on the Motor Racing Network (radio) and it is expected the race will stream on FansChoice.TV.

The list of all known timed drivers can be found below.

  1. Mike Looney – 20.088
  2. Craig Moore – 20.134
  3. Peyton Sellers – 20.175
  4. Lee Pulliam – 20.189
  5. Josh Berry – 20.204
  6. Ryan Wilson – 20.215
  7. Dexter Canipe, Jr. – 20.223
  8. E. Falk, III – 20.226
  9. Jason York – 20.249
  10. Trevor Noles – 20.254
  11. Brennan Poole – 20.258
  12. Brandon Pierce – 20.272
  13. Dylan Ward – 20.278
  14. Travis Swaim – 20.299
  15. Kres VanDyke – 20.304
  16. Justin Carroll – 20.324
  17. David Gilliland – 20.340
  18. Trey Crews – 20.346
  19. Jamey Caudill – 20.350
  20. Brenden Queen – 20.365
  21. Jeff Oakley – 20.375
  22. Brandon Clements – 20.388
  23. Derrick Lancaster – 20.407
  24. Taylor Gray – 20.421
  25. Colin Garrett – 20.431
  26. Bubba Pollard – 20.439
  27. Jake Crum – 20.478
  28. Kyle Dudley – 20.479
  29. Mike Darne – 20.484
  30. Grayson Cullather – 20.493
  31. D. Smith – 20.516
  32. Stacy Puryear – 20.523
  33. Tommy Lemons, Jr. – 20.552
  34. Jason Barnes – 20.553
  35. Jonathan Findley – 20.563
  36. Bruce Anderson – 20.614
  37. Austin Thaxton – 20.633
  38. Justin Snow – 20.662
  39. Mason Bailey – 20.703
  40. John Moore – 20.718
  41. Amber Lynn – 20.739
  42. Annabeth Barnes-Crum – 20.790
  43. Davin Scites – 20.831
  44. James Sweeney – 20.848
  45. Owen Smith – 20.921
  46. Kyle Barnes – 20.928
  47. Chris Elliott – 21.094
  48. Jeff Shiflett – 21.409

Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

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