Why Tommy Joe Martins Is Surprised After 3 Races

Tommy Joe Martins

Getty Tommy Joe Martins is happily surprised with his team's speed in 2022.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series season is three races deep, and Alpha Prime Racing is fresh off a top-13 finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The two-car team hasn’t secured a top-10 finish yet, but co-owner Tommy Joe Martins is happily surprised with some significant progress.

Martins provided insight after his first race atop the pit box instead of behind the wheel. He expressed excitement about Ryan Ellis securing a career-best 13th-place finish in the No. 44 and said that he was proud of Kaz Grala for salvaging a 23rd-place finish after an incident damaged the No. 45.

“I’m really surprised by the speed that we’ve been able to show this year,” Martins said in a video for Market Rebellion. “It’s such a good field of cars. It’s such a deep field of cars, and we’re pretty consistently — if all things are working properly — we’re pretty consistently up near the front of that second pack and that’s something to really be proud of.”

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The No. 45 Team is Brand New for 2022

Kaz Grala

GettyKaz Grala salvaged a 23rd-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The No. 44 entry ran full-time in both 2020 and 2021 when Martins was the driver for Martins Motorsports. The situation changed ahead of the 2022 season when he joined forces with Caesar Bacarella to create Alpha Prime Racing.

The No. 44 returned as the full-time entry for the Xfinity Series season, but APR added a second with the No. 45, which also features a rotating cast of drivers. Incidents have kept Grala from contending for a top-10 finish after two starts, but Martins remains happy with the new entry and the strides that they have made with multiple drivers behind the wheel.

“This 45 team — which is a new team. We’re creating a team. The 44 team has worked together now for two years,” Martins added. “But this 45 team is really coming together. A lot of speed. A really good driver behind the wheel.”

The Next Step for APR Is Consistency at Phoenix Raceway

The two-car team will have another opportunity to impress Martins during the final race of the west coast swing. APR will head to Phoenix Raceway on March 12 for the United Rentals 200, and the team will try to maintain some consistency.

Martins noted that he will have the same drivers for the race at Phoenix. Ellis will return to the No. 44 Chevrolet for the trip to the one-mile track while Grala will take back control of the No. 45 Chevrolet.

The goal, as Martins explained, is to secure some consistency at a track where he has previously run well and showcased speed. The two drivers will have familiarity with their stock cars, as well as their crews.

The consistency with the car and crew will be important for Ellis as he will take on a track where he has no previous Xfinity Series experience. Though he did take on one Cup Series race at Phoenix during the 2015 season. Grala, for comparison, has one Xfinity start at Phoenix from the 2018 season when he finished 12th overall.

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