Tennessee’s Highland Rim Speedway is ready for something big. The first ever Volunteer 300 presented by Swift Springs is set for Saturday night, October 24. Big events typically attract bigger names from outside of the region, and this event is no different. Invaders like Augie Grill and Jack Smith are hoping to beat out the locals such as Dylan Fetcho for the inaugural victory.
Smith has scored a trio of big wins in JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour competition recently at Indiana’s Winchester Speedway and Lucas Oil Raceway, but he is looking for some retribution when he heads back to ‘The Rim’ on Saturday night. He raced at the Tennessee bullring a few weeks ago and he said he was “taken out” by one of the locals.
“We were running third and a local guy took us out,” Smith told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “But I took care of it last time. I got wrecked there so at the end of the race I went and wrecked the other guy. I know that’s not a good thing to always do, but when I go back this time I didn’t want those other guys to think they could push us around. Is it the right way to do it? No. But I had to do what I had to do.”
Highland Rim is listed as a 1/3-mile D-shaped oval with banking. Smith compared the track to Indiana’s Anderson Speedway, a high-banked quarter-mile oval. But he also added there’s a big difference.
“The out-of-towners weren’t treated very well by the local drivers,” Smith said with a laugh. “The track itself isn’t as challenging as an Anderson, but that roughness comes from the drivers.”
Grill, a two-time Snowball Derby and Snowflake 100 winner from Alabama, said he isn’t getting caught up in the battle with the local drivers.
“I know how it feels for out-of-towners to come in and beat up on the locals,” said Grill. “But that’s not what I’m really going for. I just want to go to a new place and get a win. But it would be pretty neat to beat all of them that have been racing there for a few years.”
The 38-year-old driver said he’s excited to head to Highland Rim. He’s only been to the facility once before and it wasn’t to race.
“I have been there once as a spectator,” Grill said. “It was 21 years ago in 1984 when Butch Lindley was driving for my dad back then. I don’t remember a single thing about it. So when the track started putting this race together they called and asked me if I’d be interested, I really couldn’t say no. It’s neat going to different places that I’ve never been to so I thought I’d give it a shot.”
But for local driver Dylan Fetcho, this race isn’t about a local-driver-versus-out-of-towners rivalry. This is a points race. This is the season finale, and the 15-year-old Tennessee driver is just 14 points out of the championship lead.
“That would be awesome because this is my first year racing Late Models,” said Fetcho. “We just need to make it to the last 50 laps and then race hard from there.”
For Smith, a win in the inaugural Volunteer 300 would cap off the second half of a strong 2015 season really well. It’s something that he’d like to do, mainly because he wants to beat the southern guys.
“It would mean a whole lot (to me),” said Smith. “For a northern guy to go down south and race with them and beat them would be really cool. There’s kind of a rivalry with those southern guys. Bubba Pollard was teasing recently about coming up north and beating us. So I’d really like to go down and beat those southern guys.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com