comments powered by Disqus
BRISTOL — The usually colorful Nate Monteith sported more of a basic look at Bristol Motor Speedway on Monday afternoon.
Two days after an announcement he will race in the NASCAR UNOH 200 at Bristol on August 21, the two-time defending Kingsport Speedway champion posed beside a black No. 45 Toyota Tundra he will drive in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event.
Monteith’s truck wasn’t as flashy as “Lightning,” his Late Model Stock car painted like the lead character in the Disney movie “Cars.” It wasn’t even as snazzy as the yellow convertible Ferrari which DDK Motorsports team owner K.D. Moore drove up in.
Don’t let the looks deceive you. Monteith explained the Toyota truck has a winning pedigree, and has been raced by two of the Sprint Cup Series top drivers.
“We acquired some equipment that was previously run by Kyle Busch,” Monteith said. “The truck has a winning history and the last time it was run, Denny Hamlin set on the pole and led 63 laps at Martinsville. The way that it is built, it’s set up for short tracks.”
Monteith will take part in a test next Monday to try to get the truck adjusted to his style. It’s important for Monteith, a 31-year-old from Bluff City, to make a good showing at his home track, both for his immediate and long-term goals.
“Out of all the tracks, it’s a goal of mine to be successful at Bristol,” Monteith said. “It means something to my fans and family who might not have the time to go out on the road and chase us. It gives them an opportunity to support us and root us on. Hopefully, it will turn into something full-time where they can watch us every week.”
For now, the plan is to run 4-6 races this season and then evaluate where they’re at.
Monteith has been a fixture on the local Late Model scene, winning 20 races the past two seasons and 67 wins overall. Driving for Moore, he has back-to-back Tennessee state championships and ranked fourth in the NASCAR All-American Weekly Series last season.
In addition to his two Kingsport titles, Monteith is also a former champion at Lonesome Pine (Va.) Raceway.
He has two previous Truck Series starts at Bristol, both times as a teammate to Busch for Billy Ballew Motorsports. However, Monteith wasn’t in the primary equipment and had finishes of 33rd and 26th.
This time, he has the full support of Moore, a 51-year-old from Bristol, whose companies True Line Construction and KBM Commercial Properties serve as sponsors.
They are looking at working with other local companies to sponsor their efforts at Bristol. Moore sees the speedway as a great place to build business relationships.
“We’ve brought clients to the track for many years and we’ve enjoyed it,” Moore said. “We’ve been trying to put this together for a long time and with the economy coming back the way it has, this could be the start of something good for many years.”
Monteith, who made his dirt-track debut a couple of weeks ago, quit driving earlier this year to focus on family and his own business, Lightning Auto Sales in Piney Flats. It wasn’t long, however, that he was itching to get back behind the wheel.
“It gave me some time to focus on some other things to not be in the seat of the late model,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to make a full-time career out of racing and with K.D. acquiring this equipment, we have the focus back on racing. Hopefully, we’ll get some people supporting us in the Tri-Cities and turn it into something big.”
It’s obviously an uphill battle competing against the established teams in the Truck Series. Still, Monteith is excited about getting back on the high-banked short track.
“This place is its own animal,” he said. “It’s nothing like you’ve ever done and there’s nowhere else to prepare yourself for it. That’s why we’re lucky to get a test session next Monday. That gives us the single-car teams a better chance for success against these guys with all the knowledge and backing of the Cup teams.”