COLFAX, Louisiana — While finishing one season on a positive note won't guarantee success when a new one begins, it sure does set the right tone. Win a track title when points chasing wasn't really the general plan, and it tends to raise the confidence level and improve the attitude tremendously.
For 30-year-old Factory Stock hot-shoe Joshua Martin, carrying the momentum built last year into this Spring is working out. After a 2022 season that saw seven feature wins and the points crown at Sabine Speedway, he's off to a strong start, with one win and three top-five finishes in seven starts.
“It hasn't been going too badly this year,” Martin said. “We got that one win at Many (Sabine) the first night they ran, and have run a few other races since. I normally try to race at least two nights a week, but the rain just hasn't allowed us to do that yet this year.
“I'm ready to get back into our normal rhythm again and go racing full blast.”
Now in his seventh year of racing, Martin has paid his dues while gaining knowledge.
“My learning curve in Factory Stock hasn't been as tough as it has for some,” he explained. “Some of those guys weren't always on slicks. I started on them, so it wasn't as bad for me. It's still a learning curve for me; heck, I learn something new every time out.
“I've always tried to experiment a little and keep moving forward. That's what it takes.”
On the ovals of Louisiana, competition in Factory Stock is as tough as it gets. As in, loaded with talent.
“It's almost ridiculous these days,” Martin said. “It used to be you'd go to the race track, see a guy unload, and think to yourself; well, I'm not worried about him. But these days, you can't really do that any more. Everywhere you go, you have to worry about everybody.
“It's the biggest class around, and there's always 25 or 30 cars that are strong. It's tough, we even have Modified guys and Late Model drivers racing a Factory Stock because of the money they're paying. So it isn't ever a cakewalk to hit the podium. The big guns are always there, even in a weekly show now.”
When Martin suits up, grabs his helmet and gets ready to race, he straps into a very fine machine.
“I drive a 2022 Outlaw Race Car provided by Neil Kemp,” he explained. “He had a new one built for this year, so he called and offered the use of this one. I had an Outlaw last year that was Serial No. 136; and this car, believe it or not, is No. 137. So I put my seat in it, and away we went. I maintain the car.
“As for horsepower, Brandon Hightower offered me the use of a killer engine built by his father, Kevin, over at Advance Performance Engineering (APE). It has all kinds of power and is super reliable. I'm lucky to have it in the car, for sure. Now I want to go out and win more races for Neil and Brandon.”
Along with his momentum, top-notch car and driving skills, Martin also has a long list of supporters.
“I need to thank Leslie and my girls; Mom, Scotty, Aaron, Rodney, Tyler and everyone in between who lends a hand in any type of way. I couldn't do this without the support of my family and friends. I'm blessed to have them all in my corner.
“I also want to thank our great sponsors, including Club 20 Suspension, APE Racing Engines, Superior Graphix, J&M Sandblasting, FTS Supply, CP Gutters, CBC Welding and Fabrication, Team 15 Byrd, Big T Motorsports, Team 5 Enterprise, F5 Mobile Pressure Washing, Affordable Cleaning Team, KMA Motorsports, The Parker Lee Project and #bodiesby88m. I'm truly grateful to have their support.”
With racing season now at full throttle across the region, Martin knows what he wants to accomplish.
“Last year, I think I ran 46 races in all,” he said. “I bought a motor home over the winter with plans to get after it even more this year. If it will ever stop raining, we're going to see if we can run that many again, or maybe even a few more.
“I was fortunate to win not only the championship at Sabine, but the Bayou Life Dirt Track title out of every class in Louisiana. This year, every track in this state is USRA sanctioned, unlike last year. That gives us a legit shot at a National title. I'm sitting in second now, so, I don't know, it would be hard not to run for a USRA title like that. We'll just continue to work hard and see how it all plays out.”
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo by Scott Burson