The inaugural Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) were full of excitement with six divisions putting on outstanding races and showcasing just how great grassroots racing really is.
Although many know the major storylines by now, we have put together a list of leftovers for you to digest.
NOLES FAST ALL WEEKEND, CRUSHED IN RACE
Trevor Noles held the fastest time of the first practice session on Friday and posted an overall fast time of 15.450 seconds. Noles struggled in his qualifying heat and started 32nd on the grid before seeing his dreams crushed in the features.
Noles was swept up in a multi-car incident involving Cole Anderson, Noah Gragson and a host of others early in the 100-lap race on Sunday.
“I guess that’s what you get for starting in the rear like that, but we had a fast car. I can’t thank everybody at Wauters Motorsports enough and Blue Emu for coming on this weekend; it’s a shame, but we will be back,” Noles told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Everything happens so fast here at Bristol, the closing rate is unbelievable. Cars wound up in front of me and I had no time to react. I was already in the wreck.”
GRAGSON SETS RECORD TIME, RACE CUT SHORT BY WRECK
Noah Gragson set the fastest time ever recorded in a stock car at Bristol on Saturday, with a time of 14.363 seconds. However, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie had a heartbreaking end to his race. After starting in 22nd, Gragson got caught up in a lap 9 wreck with Hunter Jack, Trevor Noles, Cole Anderson and a plethora of others.
“The last I saw, the six car (Anderson) got turned down the back straightaway, dead in front of me. I felt like we might have been pushed in the wreck but we couldn’t go anywhere.” Gragson said. “Everything happens here so fast because we are running 14 second lap times around a half-mile in stock cars, real heavy cars that you can’t slow down, but I’m just thankful to be out here racing at Bristol Motor Speedway with my Kyle Busch Motorsports crew.”
JAKE CRUM BRINGS HOME SECOND-PLACE FINISH IN RARE START
The last time we saw Jake Crum in a Super Late Model, he finished 15th in a CARS Super Late Model race at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC) in November. Over the course of the entire 2016 season, Crum only ran eight SLM races after only running five in 2015.
The race at Bristol was one he was not going to miss out on, however. And in a rare start, he showed just how strong he can be behind the wheel.
Crum came up just short of taking a historic win at Bristol, finishing second to Bubba Wallace Jr.
HEARTBREAKING END FOR FAST HOCEVAR
Carson Hocevar had been fast all weekend and set the fast time in Pro Late Model qualifying, but the 14-year-old from Michigan had a heartbreaking end to his day, getting caught up in a massive multi-car incident on lap 3.
“I was just running the top, and then I don’t know if Brandon (Oakley) got tight or loose and I just got hit in the left rear and tried gathering it up, but Bristol is just too fast for people to check up like that. I started spinning and just got collected up.” Hocevar explained.
OLIVER AND FATSCHER ADD TO EXCITING HISTORY AT BRISTOL
Dillon Oliver and Eddie Fatscher both showcased great speed over the weekend and battled for the lead in the Pro Late Model race until making contact on lap 47. The contact sent Oliver’s car hard into the turn two wall and into the inside wall on pit road.
After the contact, Oliver said, “The dumb— hit me at the flag stand, I gathered it up and the son of a b—- hit me again and stuffed me in the fence. It is what it is; it’s what these little punk a– kids don’t understand.”
Fatscher claimed responsibility for the incident.
“It was all my fault, the closing rate is just really fast. We made a good move around halfway for the lead, and then we chose to stop and it didn’t work out but it’s just racing, it is what it is, we had a good car, he just got loose a little bit but it’s my bad there just getting into him.”
BEACH GOES FROM BACK OF FIELD TO FINISH SECOND
After starting 34th in the Pro Late Model feature, Jon Beach rallied through the field to pull out a second-place finish. Beach narrowly made it in to the show after finishing second in the B feature to transfer to the 100-lap main event.
“It was a long one to come back from the rear there. We really struggled in qualifying with some fuel issues and we had to battle through the B Main. It was a survival deal, just had to survive and be there at the end,” Beach told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We felt like we had a really good car when we first came; we just ran into some issues in qualifying that put us behind, there were some really good cars here like Jack Smith and Cole Williams that run up front wherever they go. We are just really tickled to be able to run up front with them.”
CRIDER COMES BACK FROM TEST CRASH FOR THIRD-PLACE FINISH
After being involved in a single-car incident during one of the pre-race test sessions at Bristol, Justin Crider and his crew worked hard on his car in hopes of coming back to Bristol for the Short Track Nationals. Crider and crew not only came back, but also came through with a third-place victory for the team out of St. Matthews, South Carolina.
TOUGH LUCK FOR THE MCCASKILLS
After being fast all day Friday, Bradley McCaskill’s weekend was over before Late Model Stock Car qualifying began. McCaskill made contact with the wall during a Saturday practice session, destroying the right side of his car and ending his weekend.
Deac McCaskill also showed speed, starting third in the 100-lap Late Model Stock feature, but ended up finishing the night in 28th after slowing off the pace and bringing his car down pit lane on lap 29.
ENGINE PROBLEMS END SWILLING’S COMEBACK BID
After suffering a blown engine during a Friday practice session, Evan Swilling’s crew worked to get the car back running. They did just that and Swilling got as high as fourth in the Late Model Stock feature before engine problems ultimately ended his night.
MODIFIED DRIVERS GIVEN SPOTTER OPTION
There was much talk after a multi-car wreck on the backstretch during the Modified feature on Saturday about the role of spotters during the race. Modified crews were informed that while spotters were not required, it was at the discretion of each individual team whether or not they wanted to use one.
WATERMAN OPTS TO LEAVE BEFORE FEATURE; WINS AT THOMPSON
After finishing in a transfer spot in the Street Stock “B” main on Saturday, Ryan Waterman and crew opted to take his B Main winnings and travel to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) to compete in their Limited Sportsman class on Sunday. He won the feature event after the unofficial winner was disqualified in post-race technical inspection.
At Bristol, Waterman told Speed51.com powered by JEGS, “I just didn’t give up.”
COMPACTS RUN MOST COMPACT RACE OF SHORT TRACK NATIONALS
The VORES Compact Touring Series ran their feature Saturday night, and overall it was the fastest feature of the night, clocking in at around 25 minutes with only two early caution periods slowing down the action.
Race fans can watch a replay of Sunday’s pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com by clicking here.
For a recap of all the action from Sunday, visit our Trackside Now coverage http://speed51.com/trackside-now-short-track-u-s-nationals-sunday-at-bristol/
-By Reese Nobles, Speed51.com Mid-Atlantic Correspondent – Twitter: @RNoblesSpeed51