East Tennessee drivers Brad Teague and Trevor Bayne have been added to the field for Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Teague, the 64-year-old from Johnson City, will be making his first start of the season in the No. 4 Chevrolet for South Carolina car owner Johnny Davis. With Davis acquiring points in a deal with Rusty Wallace Racing, Teague is guaranteed a starting spot in Saturday’s race.
The Johnson City driver said it’s not planned to be a start-and-park affair, but a race he’s scheduled to run all 300 laps.
“Bristol is my favorite track and I’m pretty excited about it,” Teague said. “It’s been a while since I’ve been able to run the whole race.”
His last full race was 2008, when he finished 32nd in the No. 54 Chevrolet. In 30 career Bristol starts, Teague has four top-10 finishes with a best effort in the 1986 Budweiser 200, a race he finished third behind Morgan Shepherd and Dale Earnhardt.
As for Saturday’s race, Teague has plans to do the best his equipment will allow.
“It’s according to how good of a car we’ve got,” he said. “It’s an underfunded team and we’re not going to overdo it. We will do whatever the car is capable of and try to do as good as we can.”
Teague plans to team up with Davis a few more times this season with races scheduled for Darlington, Dover and Bristol again in August.
Bayne, the 21-year-old from Knoxville, will be driving the No. 60 Ford for Roush-Fenway Racing. Without sponsorship, this past Saturday’s race at Las Vegas was scheduled to be Bayne’s last Nationwide start this season.
However, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner was entered right before the deadline and now will make his seventh career Nationwide Series start at BMS.
He has three top-10 starts at Bristol and a best finish of sixth in his six previous starts. When he was 15, Bayne won a pole for the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series race at Bristol.
Ticket sales are brisk for this weekend’s events, although BMS general manager Jerry Caldwell confirmed the race will fall well short of a sellout.
The crowd for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race should exceed last year’s estimated 120,000 for the Jeff Byrd 500, but will be lower than the 138,000 who attended the 2010 Food City 500.
“We’re encouraged,” Caldwell said. “Things have picked up since Daytona, and this past week has been better than last year by quite a bit. I think you’ll see a little higher crowd than last year.”
Caldwell also expects better crowds for Friday’s qualifying day and Saturday’s doubleheader for the Nationwide Series and K&N Pro Series.
However, a major challenge continues to be the economy’s slow recovery.
“The economy is getting better, although it’s not going like gangbusters yet,” Caldwell said. “We’ve been pleased working with our lodging partners and others in the Tri-Cities area, as well as the surrounding areas like Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, Asheville and Boone. We’re trying to create as many options as possible for race fans.”
Racing is not exclusive to BMS this weekend as Kingsport Speedway has its NASCAR Weekly Racing Series program with an 8 p.m. start on Friday and Volunteer Speedway kicks off its 2012 season with $10,000-to-win ‘Spring Thaw’ on Saturday.
The 11th annual ‘Spring Thaw’ race for Super Late Models features some of the biggest names in dirt track racing like Mooresburg’s Scott Bloomquist and Newport’s Jimmy Owens as well as Richard Childress Racing Truck Series drivers Ty Dillon and Joey Coulter.
The evening will include heat races, last chance B-mains and the $10,000-to-win, 60-lap main event, along with a 30-lap feature for the Pro Late Model division.
Grandstands open at 4 p.m. with hotlaps scheduled to start at 7 p.m. and racing at 8:30 p.m.
Jeff Birchfield is a sports writer for the Johnson City Press. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.