KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Chad Finchum of Knoxville entered the 2013 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season at Kingsport Speedway with three goals in mind – capturing the track Late Model Stock championship, winning a state title, plus contending for the national championship.
A phenomenal campaign saw the 18-year-old record six wins and 15 top-five finishes, with 21 overall top-10 runs, plus earn seven pole awards at “The Concrete Jungle.” He never finished outside of the top 10, with his worst run being a seventh-place effort. In the season finale, Finchum also set a new track record in qualifying with a fast-lap of 14.944 seconds.
Seven different drivers visited victory lane at Kingsport Speedway in Late Model Stock competition, with Finchum’s six wins leading the way. Finchum stood atop the point leaderboard for all but five weeks during the season.
Not only did Finchum win the track title, but icing on the cake was being named the Tennessee State NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion, which earned him and the Chad Finchum Racing team a trip to the NASCAR Home Tracks National Banquet later this year in December at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. He also ended the season ranked ninth nationally in the final NWAAS top 500 driver standings.
“I guess you could say we had a ‘dream season’ with what we accomplished,” said Finchum while taking a break from helping prepare the No. 19 Ford Fusion he will race this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. “With this being just my first full season of Late Model Stock racing, some might’ve thought the goals we set as a team were too high. But, hey, back when we participated in preseason practice, I truly felt like we would do really well.”
Finchum and crew chief Dinky Torbett, they have great chemistry and their communication throughout the season paid dividends. Plus, Tony Cordell and J.E. Blankenship have been significant contributing crew members for a while now.
“I don’t know, it’s kind of like Dinky and I can read each other’s minds regarding what needs to be done on the car,” said Finchum. “Back at the shop during the week, it didn’t matter the hours that needed to be put in, Dinky made sure the car was well-prepared before we’d leave to make the drive from our race shop in Knoxville up to Kingsport.”
Finchum kicked the season off in style back on a sunny Saturday afternoon in mid-March by visiting victory lane, thus capturing his first-ever NASCAR sanctioned win. That opening day victory proved to be a strong boost of confidence for both driver and race team.
“To come right out and win the first race of the season, that was unreal,” said Finchum. “Based off notes we had from the preseason practice sessions, Dinky and the guys really had a great (chassis) setup underneath the car. As the season progressed, week in and week out we were competitive and in the hunt to win races at Kingsport Speedway. And what more could you ask for?
“The caliber of competition weekly at Kingsport, ask anybody and they’ll say it’s right up there with any other NASCAR sanctioned track. How many other tracks can say they had seven different drivers win races? And really, I’d say there’s about 12 cars that were capable of winning races on any given night if they happened to hit the right setup and if circumstances went their way. Not just for myself, but winning the track and state championships, it’s something we’ll never forget.”
Focus for Finchum now switches to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for the upcoming Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 300, scheduled Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5-6.
Around 100 of the top Late Model Stock drivers and teams will assemble for the event, which is the biggest, richest, most prestigious NASCAR Late Model Stock car race in the country. The winner takes home $25,000, a grandfather clock and probably most importantly, bragging rights for a year.
“After racing at Kingsport Speedway wrapped up, we went up to Motor Mile Speedway to run some races,” said Finchum. “Unfortunately for us, the last race we ran we got in a wreck and badly damaged the car. Before last week’s open practice at Martinsville Speedway, we basically rebuilt the car. From front-to-back and all underneath, everything new was put on the car. The transmission and rear-end is new, along with components on all four corners of the car. We unloaded with a pretty good setup on the car and throughout the practice session we tweaked on the car and made some changes trying to get it a little better. We started out on used rubber (tires) and once we put some new tires on, we really picked up considerably.
“Nobody had transponders on their cars, but according to hand-timed laps for the 90-some-odd cars present, we were among the top 20 fastest. I feel confident we’ll run well when we go back for the Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 300. But I will go on record to say, it’ll take more than just having a fast car. You definitely will want to lay down a fast-lap on Saturday in the practice qualifying session so you’ll have a good starting position in your heat race on Sunday. You’ll also have to have luck on your side, especially during the qualifying heat races. I’m sure those will be wild, with drivers trying to finish in the top eight to transfer into the big race. With the top eight finishers advancing on to the main event, you sure don’t want to be starting in your heat further back than eighth.”
The grandstand gates will open at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6 for the Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 300. At 10 a.m. an autograph session will take place on the front straightaway to allow fans the opportunity to meet the competitors. The first of four 20-lap qualifying heat races will get the green flag at 12 p.m., to determine starting positions 1-32 with top eight in each heat race advancing, followed by a 20-lap last-chance race with top 10 advancing to feature.
Chad Finchum Racing, owned by James and Linda Finchum, is headed by crew chief Dinky Torbett (Torbett Race Cars), with crew members Tony Cordell, J.E. Blankenship, Tyler Reed, Eric Romines, Sam Couch, David Couch and Craig Phelps.
Supporters for Chad Finchum Racing in 2013 on the No. 19 Ford Fusion include: A-1 Finchum Heating & Cooling, Texas Roadhouse, Finchum Paint & Body, Embassy Suites Concord, Loveland Baptist Church, RW Race Engines, Five Star Stock Car Bodies, Ford Racing and Hedgecock (Race Cars) Racing Enterprises.
To learn more about possible sponsor opportunities with Chad Finchum Racing, contact James Finchum at (865) 740-3535. To keep up with Chad Finchum’s racing throughout the season visit his website at www.ChadFinchum19.com or follow him on Twitter @ChadFinchum.