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Driver coach: Day has helped three reach the Cup Series

Jeff Birchfield • Aug 15, 2018 at 11:22 PM

Wade Day won 48 Late Model Stock races over a four-year span from 1999-2002, but the former driver has found even more success as a coach, with three of his former students now competing at the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series level.

The former Elizabethton resident has served as a crew chief and mentor to Trevor Bayne, Chad Finchum and Blake Jones, with all three East Tennessee drivers now racing at the Cup level.

This season, Day has served as a crew chief for Bayne's younger brother, Trey, at Kingsport Speedway, where the 14-year-old won his first Late Model feature back on June 8.

Yet, it was Day who first dreamed of a Cup career and as a short track racer, he set the Kingsport Speedway record with 14 feature wins in 2000. Before that, he was a teammate to Johnson City driver Matt Wolfe at the 3/8-mile concrete oval.

Day, 45, was a winner in both the former NASCAR Goody's Dash Series and the Pro Cup Series.

He also scored two top-five finishes in the ASA Series, losing in a photo finish at Kentucky and finishing fourth at Atlanta, one position ahead of NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin, while driving for Kingsport car owner Bob Harshberger.

He also competed in two NASCAR Xfinity Series races in 2005.

But that doesn't compare to his success as a driver coach, which includes seeing Trevor Bayne win the 2011 Daytona 500 and Finchum and Jones both make Cup debuts this season.

Bayne and Finchum talked about why Day has been so successful in the coaching role.

Trevor Bayne

"Wade is a special guy. He's selfless and that's what makes him so awesome," Bayne said. "I was talking to Trey the other day and he was meeting our family at the beach. I asked him how he was getting there and he was like, 'Wade's taking me.' He's just one of those guys who will do anything whether he's driving across the country or working on the race car.

"He's such a smart, humble guy. I remember racing at Dumplin Valley, and he would fly in with Matt Wolfe in a helicopter after he had raced the Late Model race and then helicopter back home.

“I remember racing against him in the Hooters Pro Cup Series, and then he made it to the Xfinity Series. He knows the drivers and he knows the tracks. He's doing a great job with Trey."

Chad Finchum

"Wade has driven cars and worked on his own equipment, been a spotter, crew chief, been in about every position in motorsports," Finchum said.

"I think that makes him such good driver coach for up-and-coming drivers. I had the pleasure of working with Wade off and on from 2010 until 2014. He taught me things specifically that I use to this day."

"I came out of legend cars and other kinds of racing. When you step into a full-size stock car, there are things you don't think of in the moment.

“One thing that might seem small is how he taught me to come straight out for practice instead of using 3-4 laps to scuff tires and eat up your brakes.

“When you get to the Xfinity and Cup level, that's all you can do. You don't get to ease into the groove. You have to go."

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