Drivers were ripe with anticipation during the final test day for the Short Track U.S. Nationals Saturday afternoon at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN). With the inaugural event less than one week away, drivers from six divisions made their way to the Last Great Colosseum to gain valuable experience for next weekend's event.
Among the divisions testing were the Super Late Models, who will run a 100-lap race at Bristol next Sunday. Dalton Armstrong held the overall fast time of the day with a 14.501 second lap time around the high-banked half mile.
Current Southern Super Series points leader Stephen Nasse was consistently in the top five, along with Kyle Benjamin, who was replacing Noah Gragson, after Gragson was injured in an ARCA race last weekend at Talladega.
Despite not having the fastest time of the day, Nasse was happy with his race car and believes his team is in a good position for next weekend.
“I would have liked to get into the 14.6 range, but we never really left the 14.7 range so I would say I’m happy with it,” Nasse told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We were on old tires but we might take it back to the shop and work on a couple of things there.”
Although he wasn’t behind the wheel of the Kyle Busch Motorsports car on Sunday, Gragson was at the track and able to learn ahead of next weekend’s race.
“I had the radio on, spotting for him all day,” Gragson explained. “It’s unfortunate I couldn’t drive today but hearing a second opinion around this place is always good. After that ARCA wreck in Talladega, Kyle (Busch) didn’t want me driving so we had Kyle (Benjamin) shake it down for us.”
In JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Pro Late Models, Dillon Oliver was the fastest in three out of the four practice sessions, coming in second in the second practice session. Oliver also held the fastest lap of the day, clocking in at 14.849 seconds.
Oliver wasn’t too far off the fast lap in the second session with only 0.008 seconds between he and Cole Williams who was also consistently at the top of the charts.
CARS Tour Late Model Stock Cars took to the high-banks and dirt-turned-asphalt racer Brandon Grosso took home the fastest time of the day with a time of 15.356 seconds. Grosso showed speed as the day wore on, capping the day by leading the final session and having a top-five time in three out of four sessions.
Deac McCaskill was also a mainstay in the top-five, posting the top time of the second session and in practice session four, hosting the fourth best time of the entire day with a 15.522 second lap time.
In National Short Track Alliance (NSTA) Modifieds, Lyle Gray led the third session and held the third fastest time of the day with a time of 16.539 seconds., while Jeff Lane took the fastest time of the day with a time of 16.395 seconds.
“The car felt really good,” Gray said. “I can’t thank my guys at Burkett-Hester Race Cars enough, everyone put together a really good piece for me. My friends and family also helped me get here, I couldn’t do any of this without them.”
Chuck Barnes Jr was the class of the field in CRA Street Stocks and was the only driver on the final test day to post a lap under 18 seconds with a fast time of 17.838 seconds.
“I don’t really know if we were the fastest car today, we just keep working,” Barnes said. “We have 80 laps on these tires, so I think we will be alright. This whole Bristol event is a really cool deal.”
The Vores Compact Touring Series tuned their cars up for the final time before their big show with Steve Vore posting the best time, a 19.494 second lap posted in the second session. His closest competitor was Keith Watson, who also posted his fastest lap in the second session, turning a time of 19.552 second lap.
With the test days completed, drivers will now turn their attention towards the Short Track U.S. Nationals with practice beginning on Friday, May 19.
Fans who are unable to attend the event in person can still watch the action on Speed51.com by ordering a live pay-per-view video stream of all the action by clicking here.
-By Reese Nobles, Speed51.com Mid-Atlantic Correspondent – Twitter: @RNoblesSpeed51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com