Young Tennessee Driver Tops VIFRL 300 Speeds

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Chad Finchum was the fastest at Martinsville Speedway Saturday.

A quick lap early in the final practice session of the day Saturday earned 19-year-old Chad Finchum top qualifying honors for Sunday’s Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 NASCAR Late Model Stock race at Martinsville Speedway.

The Knoxville, Tenn., driver turned in a lap of 20.596 seconds (98.932 mph) to edge Deac McCaskill of Raleigh, N.C., Peyton Sellers of Danville and Ryan Stiltner of Grundy.  McCaskill had a time of 20.602 (98.903 mph) on the .526-mile oval while Sellers clocked in at 20.643 seconds (98.707 mph) and Stiltner at 20.656 (98.644 mph).

The four drivers will each start first in one of four heat races, which start Sunday at noon, to determine the starting lineup for Sunday’s 200-lap feature. The top eight drivers from each 20-lap heat race will advance to the feature with the remaining 10 spots in the 42-car field determined by a 20-lap last-chance race.

Eighty-seven drivers are entered in the race. Fast times from the final hour of practice were used to set the field for the heat races.

For Finchum, who won the track championship at Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway this year, Saturday’s effort was a career best.

“This is the biggest accomplishment I’ve ever had. I was pretty much in tears when it all ended,” Finchum said. “We’ll be starting on the pole in the first heat race and that’s the elite position to be in. I’m just going to go out there and do what I can do.”

Sunday’s race is regarded as the biggest NASCAR Late Model Stock car race in the country, and for veteran McCaskill, a win would be amazing.

“It would be huge. It would probably mean more than winning the national title,” said McCaskill. “You know, $25,000 is a whole lot of money. We’ve got a really good car and there are 30 more really good cars out there, too. It’s going to be a really tight, competitive field, and not always the fast car wins this race. It comes down to attrition and taking care of your brakes and taking care of your fenders and keeping everything on it and being there at the end of the race.

Tickets for Sunday’s race are $25 for adults, youth 12 an under are free and may be purchased at the Martinsville Speedway ticket office, which opens at 8 a.m. Sunday.   

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