Reeves, who moved to the Bristol area from Martinsville, Va., in January to pursue his racing dream, stayed out of trouble and drove the No. 96 Wade Lopez-owned Ford to the win in the JEGS CRA All-Stars Pro Late Model feature at the Short Track U.S. Nationals.
Reeves assumed the lead eight laps from the finish when the lead cars of Jack Smith, Justin South and Michael Clancy Jr. got tangled up in a wreck. The incident started when South went to the inside of Smith and the two made contact.
After the race was red-flagged 30-some minutes for the wreck and then for rain, Reeves emerged with a lead that he didn’t give up.
“I knew something was going to happen. When I saw him dive-bomb when they were three-wide, I backed off,” said Reeves, who calls Bristol his adopted hometown. “I can’t believe we won Bristol. This is unbelievable. I was pretty discouraged after qualifying, knew I had bombed my lap. I knew we had a good race car that could contend for the win. I just stayed out of trouble and bided my time. Just being patient is a virtue in these short-track races.”
During the week, Reeves can be found at the Henderson Motorsports shop in Abingdon, working on the No. 75 Toyota that Parker Kligerman drives in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The owners let Reeves keep his race car in the back of the shop.
Reeves’ driving background is more sprint cars and the ARCA stock car series. He had never been in a Pro Late Model car or driven at Bristol Motor Speedway until a test last week.
When the red flag flew Friday night, Reeves’ tire went almost completely flat. Before the action resumed, he was able to get enough air in it to last until the end of the race. He won by just .462 seconds over runner-up Jordan Miller.
“I had run through some debris,” Reeves said. “When I came in for the rain, I was so excited because I thought I might have won the race. When we got two minutes before we went green, the tire was on the rim. They let us air the tire and we put a couple of extra pounds in it. The last couple of laps, (Miller) was closing in on us.
“The emotions I felt that last hour, it was on the complete opposite ends of the spectrum.”
EVERYBODY WAS PIT-ROAD FIGHTING
Smith confronted South after their accident and threw a punch inside the car while South still had his helmet on. It triggered a fight between Smith and crew members of both teams. Smith sustained a bloodied forehead before being dragged from the fight by CRA officials.
He was escorted from the track, but South was around to give his take on what happened.
“I really hate it for Jack,” South said. “I know how much it costs to fix these race cars and I hate to see that. But in the end, I have to try to win for my crew who works just as hard as his.
“When we took up here, we had a good restart,’” he added. “At that point, you’re flat-footing at the restart. If you back off, you’re going to lose three, four positions. There wasn’t anything dirty there and there was nothing intentional.”
TOUGH NIGHT FOR SKINNER
Smith had battled former truck series champion Mike Skinner for the lead earlier in the race. Skinner emerged out front of that battle, his No. 5 Toyota appearing to be the car to beat, but he got caught up in a wreck with the lapped car of Tyler Hufford on lap 71.
Skinner, who finished 13th, took the blame for the accident.
“It was a lot of fun to be out in the lead and I feel like a complete idiot,” Skinner said. “I was trying to pass the guy on the outside and his car wasn’t handling and it washed up, so I was like, ‘Let’s be careful.’ I backed off and then got a good run off turn 4 and his car washed up again.
“His spotter was then telling my spotter they were going to give me the outside. I got beside him on the inside and when he turned left, there was just such a head of steam there wasn’t anything I could do.
“I hate it for the boys, for the crew and our partners at Toyota. We had such a good car. I’m an old man. Maybe I shouldn’t still be racing, but I can still go fast.”
TWO MORE DAYS OF RACING
There are two days of racing left with the Short Track U.S. Nationals, sponsored by Rusty Wallace Automotive Group. The Late Model Stock class is the featured race today with practice and qualifying before racing starts at 5 p.m.
The Super Late Models will be featured Sunday with practice and qualifying before racing starts at 2 p.m.
SHORT TRACK U.S. NATIONALS
At Bristol Motor Speedway
JEGS CRA All-Stars Pro Late Model
1.(96) Josh Reeves
2. (40) Jordan Miller
3. (4X) Matt Maurer
4. (00) Brandon Curren
5. (43) Justin South
6. (89) Perry Patino
7. (29K) Mason Keller
8. (23C) Mandy Chick
9. (28S) Jack Smith
10. (20D) Jack Dossey III
11. (5C) Michael Clancy Jr.
12. (44) Colby Lane
13. (5S) Mike Skinner
14. (5H) Tyler Hufford
15. (76) Jerick Johnson
16. (23V) Eddie VanMeter
17. (15) Trey Craig
18. (26) Harrison Hall
19. (17) Josh Brock
20. (46) Cole Williams
21. (12G) Joe Graf Jr.
22. (78) Cory Heim
23. (69) R.J. Norton
24. (33) Wes Griffith Jr.