Column By: TREVOR GAVIN / RPW – FORT WORTH, TX – Stewart Friesen may have had a victory slip through is fingers in Friday night’s JAG Metals 350 at Texas Motor Speedway after a speeding penalty as the leader on the last round of pit stops but he wasn’t the only northeast native with a chance to win on the 1.5-mile oval. There were other dirt track alumni represented in the Lone Star State and one of them suffered a heart breaking loss some may argue greater than Friesen and his #52 team.
Sheldon Martin is a former Pro Stock driver and son of 2018 Albany-Saratoga Pro Stock Champion Kenny Martin. Sheldon is an over-the-wall crew member within the Roush-Fenway Racing organization. The Scotia, NY native who now resides in Concord, NC was part of the pit crew hired to service the #4 truck of Todd Gilliland on Friday night at Texas. It looked like Gilliland would bring home a victory in his Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra until the last lap when the truck ran out of fuel on the backstretch, giving the victory to Justin Haley in the #24 truck.
Sheldon Martin is a rear tire changer and it was his first race on the #4 team.
“The team (Kyle Busch Motorsports) wanted to make a change on their pit crew so they called Roush-Fenway to see if they had a crew available” Martin said in an interviews as he packed up his tools Friday night after the checkered flag.
Last week at Martinsville, Martin was a part of the crew that pitted the #33 of Chad Finley who retired from the event after an early accident. Martin was able to meet his dad at The Dirt Track in Charlotte to help out for the feature events of the World Short Track Championships on Sunday where “Krazy” Kenny Martin finished 8th in the main event and 7th in the All-Star feature respectively.
“We got the call on Monday that KBM wanted to make a change so we were able to practice at their shop all week” Martin remarked in being able to get ready for Texas.
“I am hoping that it continues for Phoenix and Martinsville” Martin added.
Another northeast native who was a part of the Truck race Friday night in addition to Stewart Friesen and Martin was Tyler Dippel. The Wallkill, NY native made his third career start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and second for GMS Racing. Dippel brought his #25 America F1rst / Turning Point USA Chevrolet home in the 14th position after a strong 9th place qualifying effort.
“I am driving the truck for the rest of the year at Phoenix and Homestead” Dippel said after driver introductions on Friday night.
“I am working on a full-time deal (in the truck series) for 2019 with some teams so hopefully that works out.” Dippel responded with when asked about his future plans.
Dippel is hoping to return to the #25 team in a full-time ride in 2019 but all the asphalt action may interfere with being able to get behind the wheel of a big block modified.
“I am going to run some modified shows next season” DIppel said. “It is really hard with the asphalt schedule to get home to race with the modifieds but I am going to try. I would like to get to some races”.