Local drivers ready for Bristol race; Rusty Wallace Automotive Group to sponsor

Jeff Birchfield • May 12, 2018 at 6:37 PM

BRISTOL — Local drivers Joey Trent and Austin Peters were among those who took spins around Bristol Motor Speedway in their Late Model cars on Saturday, testing for next weekend's Short Track U.S. Nationals.

It was also announced that Rusty Wallace Automotive Group would be the title sponsor for the races to be held next Friday through Sunday.

Wallace, a NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, was a nine-time Bristol winner. He scored his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory at Bristol in 1986 and his 50th career win in 1999. He has owned car dealerships in East Tennessee for over 25 years and has seven dealerships from Morristown to Knoxville.

"The Rusty Wallace Automotive Group is extremely excited to be the title sponsor for this year's Short Track U.S. Nationals," said Wallace, whose son Steven is entered in Sunday's Super Late Model edition of the event. "There's no better place to have this event than a track where I encountered some of the most iconic moments of my career."

Maybe there will be another Jeff Gordon and Wallace bump-and-run. There is a Jeff Gordon entered in the race, but this one is a short track racer from Florida.

Mike Skinner, who was the first NASCAR Truck Series champion in 1995 and later a teammate to Dale Earnhardt in the Cup Series for Richard Childress Racing, is entered in Friday's Pro Late Model race.

The Late Model Stocks, which Trent and Peters race, are the featured class of cars for Saturday night. Trent tested his car at Bristol, but didn't race last year. This time, he has big plans with his No. 26 Chevrolet.

"This is a dream come true to experience this," said Trent, who lives in Gray. "The speeds are no comparison to what we run at Kingsport Speedway. We just want to have a good time, hopefully have a good run and finish. You have a little room for forgiveness at Kingsport, but there is none here."

Peters, who has raced mainly at Kingsport and Lonesome Pine, has one Bristol start back in 2011. He also raced the No. 66 Chevrolet at Newport back in November and feels the high-banked tracks better suits his driving style.

"I ran the Charger division back in 2011 and we had the second fastest car out there," said Peters, a Kingsport racer. "I just fell in love with it. Whenever I got the opportunity to come back here and race again, I was all about it."

Danny O'Quinn, the former NASCAR Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year from Abingdon, will be piloting the No. 96 Ford and Nik Williams from Chuckey, will be in the No. 32 Ford. Among the non-locals, Josh Berry will be driving a No. 88 Chevrolet owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Open-Wheel Modifieds, Street Stocks and Compact divisions are also on the weekend schedule with more than 350 cars expected to be in competition.

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