Knoxville's Finchum Scores PittLite 125 Victory
Chad Finchum has grown up watching the stars of NASCAR racing at Bristol Motor Speedway.
On Saturday, the 21-year-old from Knoxville, Tennessee added his name to the list of drivers who have won on the high-banked, half-mile track.
Finchum notched his first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory after pulling away from Kyle Benjamin on a final restart with 10 laps to go in the PittLite 125. The victory came in his fourth series start at Bristol and in his debut driving the No. 39 for the Martin-McClure Racing team owned by NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers Hal Martin and Eric McClure.
"I came here as a fan for many years and watched people like Earnhardt and Labonte and all of them do it the best," Finchum said. "I had been running at the local level for quite some time and had great success there. This is my fourth trip to Bristol. I came here three times prior with our own car and our best finish was seventh.
"When Eric and Hal made this team, Martin-McClure Racing, with Reynolds Wrap on the car, when they gave me the call and said, 'Will you come drive for us. This is what we're going to do,' I was so happy. But not happier than I am right now."
Benjamin finished 0.624 of a second back in second place followed by Kaz Grala, Justin Haley and Dillon Bassett.
"I thought we had something for Finchum right there," Benjamin said. "It just really came down to restarts. Whoever got the lead, got out front was going to win it."
The race was slowed by five cautions and a red flag following a five-car accident on Lap 10. One of the drivers involved, Ali Kern, was taken to an area hospital for further evaluation.
On the restart, Finchum surged past polesitter Harrison Burton for the lead.
An engine problem ended Burton's race moments later. The son of former NASCAR driver and current NBC Sports NASCAR analyst Jeff Burton led the first 14 laps and made 12 more before his day was over. He finished 23rd.
Finchum led at the 5-minute intermission on Lap 73. Kyle Benjamin, Kaz Grala, Dillon Bassett and Collin Cabre rounded out the top five at the halftime break during which teams could change tires and make adjustments.
Todd Gilliland qualified eighth but began his bid to become the first driver to win their first five K&N Pro Series races from the back of the field for unapproved springs found in pre-race inspection. He finished ninth.
Spencer Davis, who entered the weekend leading the series points standings, finished 14th.