In the pits- Ginn
Carmichael launches stock car career at Lake City; gains valuable seat time
Point leader Martin spends night mentoring motocross standout in debut
Ginn Racing development driver Ricky Carmichael made his stock car debut Saturday, March 24, at Columbia Motor-sports Park at Lake City, FL. Under the watchful eye of then Nextel Cup point leader Mark Martin, Carmichael finished third in his heat race, running well before losing a tire and hitting the wall on lap seven. Still, Carmichael and Martin were pleased with the night’s progress.
Fellow Ginn development driver Matt Martin finished fourth in his heat and seventh overall in the feature.
“Our goal for this event was not to focus on the result, but to focus on the things that we had to learn—we learned a ton tonight,” said Martin after the race.
“We did learn a lot tonight,” agreed Martin. “Ricky gets up to speed quickly, especially for something that he’s never done before. He just had a couple of unfortunate incidents. Part of it is racing and part of it will be more avoidable as he gets experience and a better feel for what the cars around him will do.”
“The main thing is that I have the abilities and the concept, and sometimes that’s the hardest thing,” said Carmichael. “It’s just disappointing to me because what you didn’t want to happen (to fall out of the race) happened, but there is always another weekend, and that’s the great thing about racing.”
After a solid heat race, Carmichael started the feature inside of the third row and held his own in the early going, before getting tangled up in a accident on lap two. A car checked up in front of Carmichael, giving him nowhere to go with his No. 4 Monster Chevrolet, sending the car’s right wheels airborne. Carmichael was able to collect the car and continue, even holding position for the next several laps, before a debris caution was issued.
Carmichael’s car faded on the restart, dropping him back several positions before losing the tire and hitting the wall.
“I came off of two and got a good run, but the No. 8 car kind of came in on me and I just had nowhere to go,” said Carmichael of the early incident. “I ran into the back of him and kind of got my car up at an angle, and it slammed down. From that point on I felt like I was just pretty much in the way; it just kind of all went backwards from there.”
Still, Carmichael was pleased to gain valuable seat time in the car.
“It’s a great challenge, and I learn something new every time I do it,” he said. “It’s just for the competitive side of me that it is frustrating.”
Martin, who saw his streak of 621 consecutive starts come to an end on Bristol weekend as the Nextel Cup point leader, looked right at home in his role of mentor and teacher.
“I had a great night and I had a blast,” said Martin. “I love coming out here and helping with this thing and working with these guys and helping Ricky make the transaction.
“We are going to continue to step up the challenge and the competition and we have a good plan laid out for him,” added Martin. “Ricky Carmichael is spectacular, and he’s going to really be able to do this thing.”