BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Casting its shadow over the hills of Northeast Tennessee, Bristol Motor Speedway dares drivers to cement their legacy by tackling its legendary banks. For those attempting to forge their own story apart from a well-known family name, racing under the lights at the iconic speedway
provides the ideal stage.
This week, some of the NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series young guns logged laps on the concrete oval in hopes of earning a trip to Victory Lane in the UNOH 200, which will be held at BMS on Aug. 21.
“No matter what your last name is or what type of family you come from, when it comes down to it we have to get the job done,” said Chase Elliott, son of former NASCAR Sprint Cup series champion Bill Elliott. “Things are different now, and they can’t drive the cars for you. We have to figure it out on our own.”
Elliott seemed to have it figured out during this week’s test session, logging some of the day’s quickest laps in his No. 94 machine.
“I think we’re all chasing the 94 a little bit,” said Henderson Motorsports driver Caleb Holman. “Trucks are such a tough game because you know everyone competing has everything they need to go fast, but for me if we run well at Bristol it makes our whole year.”
Holman, a native of Abingdon, Va., has already notched one visit to Victory Lane in Bristol. He won the Aaron’s 150 Pro Cup race in 2008.
Still, he is awed each time he negotiates the first turn.
“I’ve been here a lot of times in a lot of different stuff, but it still takes your breath away the first time you go in the corner,” said Holman, who finished 19th last August in his only Truck Series start at Bristol.
Ben Kennedy will be making his Truck Series debut at BMS this August. The 19-year-old driver ran the K&N Series race in Bristol back in March and quickly learned the nuances of BMS can change when the equipment does.
“This is a really cool track and a cool place to make my (truck) debut,” said Kennedy, grandson of the late NASCAR Chairman Bill France, Jr. “My whole family is looking forward to it, and I’m really excited.
“It’s definitely something new though, something you have to get used to,” he continued. “You carry a lot of speed here and stuff happens so quick. I learned that when I spun off [turn] two earlier.”
The son of former NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Ward Burton and nephew of current Cup driver Jeff Burton, Jeb Burton’s 2013 resume boasts three poles and one win. Although he only observed during the test session, the Halifax, Va., native is confident is his abilities.
“It looks like a fun track to race on,” said the 21-year-old. “I’m leaning on my teammates a bit here and learning from what they think. My dad and uncle always said this was one of their favorite tracks, and short tracks are what I was brought up on so hopefully we’ll run good here.”
And while short track experience can prove advantageous, a litany of feverish finishes, impassioned rivalries, and drivers’ dogged determination to hoist the Bristol trophy bear witness to the track’s unique place in racing history.
“Bristol is its own animal,” said Turn One Racing driver Dakoda Armstrong. “You’re looking for the little things that work here, because everything’s just a little different. There’s nothing else like this place so [with our test] we’re really focusing on how to run well here at Bristol.”comments powered by Disqus