Trevor Noles wanted nothing more than to add a gladiator sword to his trophy collection this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. After three years of trying, the North Carolina driver sealed the deal and captured the sword Saturday night during the 4th Annual Pinty’s U.S. Short Track Nationals.
The victory for Noles comes after nearly getting to victory lane at the track in 2018 when he led 42 laps before a flat tire ended his day. This time around, the driver of the No. 22 Wilson Motorsports car pounced when it mattered most to score the big victory.
“I’ve been coming here for four years and haven’t been able to seal the deal. I felt coming here yesterday that this was my race to win,” Noles said. “I’ve been coming here and running good the last couple years; I just didn’t have any luck. What a blessing to be here in victory lane at Bristol Motor Speedway.”
After setting fast time in qualifying earlier in the day, Noles started the race from the fifth position following a re-draw. He bided his time and kept his nose clean for much of the race before powering to the inside of Greg Van Alst on Lap 88 to take the lead. From there, he pulled away from the field on his way to victory lane at the Last Great Colosseum.
“My carburetor was falling flat a little bit, but I just had to clear it out a little bit on that last restart,” Noles said. “I can’t thank [Van Alst] enough for driving me clean on that last restart. He’s just a good ol’ guy and it was a pleasure racing with these guys.”
For much of the 100-lap race, Georgia young gun Jake Garcia appeared to have the dominant car. Garcia took the lead from polesitter Sammy Smith on the opening lap and seemed to be untouchable during the first half of the race.
However, during a tire check on pit road on Lap 64, Garcia’s team discovered that the left rear tire was going flat. They decided to change the tire and drop to the rear of the field. Despite having a fast race car, he could only charge through the field as far as fifth at the checkered flag.
“I led the first 60 laps of the race and felt like I was the dominant car of the race,” Garcia said. “Then we had that restart with 50 to go and the 51 of Sammy Smith just ran into me on the start here in turn four. I’m not sure what that was all about but it’s whatever I guess. That cut down the left rear tire. When we came in and pitted there we noticed the tire was down. We had to change that and go back to the rear.”
Defending ARCA/CRA Super Series champion Greg Van Alst had one of the strongest runs of his career en route to a runner-up finish. Last year’s U.S. Short Track Nationals winner Stephen Nasse finished third, while Daniel Dye and Garcia completed the top five.
A full replay of Saturday’s live broadcast will be available soon on Speed51.TV.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51 Content Manager
-Photo credit: Speed51
Pinty’s U.S Short Track Nationals SLM Results
Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) – September 26, 2020
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