Race week: Eric McClure hoping for Top 20 finish at home track
JOHNSON CITY — A few years ago, someone asked 62-year-old Brad Teague how long he planned on racing in NASCAR.
He answers that question today the same way he answered it then.
As long as the car owners keep calling, he’ll continue to drive.
A native of Johnson City, Teague has been racing for 43 years. He said Tuesday he’d like to shoot for 45 years. If his health holds up, he wouldn’t mind trying for 50.
On Saturday, he’ll be attempting to qualify for the Scotts Turfbuilder 300 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at his home track in Bristol.
These days, Teague splits his time between the Jimmy Means and Johnny Davis Nationwide race teams, and this weekend he is driving the No. 04 Chevy, which is actually owned by both Means and Davis.
With 50 cars entered in Saturday’s race attempting to make a field of 43, Teague knows it’s going to be a tough race to make.
“Last August we out qualified about 16 cars at Bristol and made the race, and this time we hope to do the same thing,” Teague said. “We don’t have nearly as good a car as some of them have, which means I’ve got to make a perfect lap to make the race. I’ve driven high-dollar cars where you could make a little slip and still qualify good, but in a car like we have this weekend you have to make about a perfect lap to get in the show.”
Teague doesn’t compete in NASCAR every weekend, and he spends his time away from racing operating B&B Auto Repair at 154 Lynn Road in Johnson City.
But when the phone rings, he is ready to head to the track.
Over his career, Teague has won about 60 races, and most of those were in the old NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Series, which was the precursor to the Nationwide Series. He finished fifth in the first-ever Nationwide Series race at Bristol in 1982 and earned his one and only Nationwide win at Martinsville in 1987.
In recent years, Teague has done a lot of start and parking, but when the money is available he still runs Nationwide races flag to flag.
Admittedly he’s not vying for wins and championships anymore.
On the other hand, someone is paying him to show up at a NASCAR race with a helmet and uniform most weekends. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of race car drivers who would gladly trade places with him.
“Morgan Shepherd and I started racing the same year, in 1967, and I think what’s kept him in this sport so long has been his talent,” Teague said. “I had no idea that I’d be able to race for 43 years. I think what saved me was my talent, because people still call me to drive their car.”
Teague added, “If you can’t do the job they’re not going to call you to drive their car. If Johnny (Davis) and Jimmy (Means) didn’t have confidence in me, they wouldn’t call me. Our car is probably the least funded, oldest car out there, but I think I can get the most out of it. If somebody gets in that car and does a lot better than I do, then I would quit.”
Teague doesn’t know yet if he’ll be attempting a start and park this weekend at Bristol or trying to run the full race. It depends on some potential sponsor inquiries that are pending.
Ordinary fans have an opportunity to help him run the full race as well.
If someone buys him a set of tires for $1,800 this weekend, he’ll bring two fans into the pits all day Friday and Saturday as his special guests during practice, qualifying and the race.
If he can get two sets of tires at a cost of $3,600 he’ll welcome four people into the pits as his guests.
Anyone interested in taking Teague up on that offer can call him today or Thursday at his garage at 423-929-8640.