Brennan Newberry and the #24 Qore-24 Hand Purifier Chevrolet Impala team returned to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Bristol Motor Speedway, after a strong runner-up finish at Phoenix International Raceway in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West competition, trying to build on their momentum gained in the desert. After a successful day in practice and qualifying on Thursday, Newberry had to wait until Saturday to see if the team's hard work would pay off at the end of 125 laps deep in the hills of Tennessee.
The week began with the first of two practice sessions on Thursday and was the first opportunity for the 24 team to test the setup of their Chevrolet Impala after last racing on a surface two times the distance of the Bristol short track. Immediately after pulling off of pit road, Newberry began attempting to gain heat in his Goodyear tires in order to see how quickly the car would come to him. These attempts were cut short by three caution flags early in the session, a theme that would resonate throughout the weekend. At the end of first practice Newberry was finally able to make a long green flag run and sat seventh on the board with a fast lap time of 16.524, yet still felt as though he needed more forward grip. With changes to tire pressures and track bar placement, Crew Chief John Monsam remedied the front bite concerns and sent his driver back out on to the high banks to test the qualifying trim. With a taped nose and cold tires, Newberry placed his Qore-24 Chevrolet inside the top five on the speed charts and finished the final 75 minute practice session with a fastest lap time of 16.163 and felt very confident going into time trials. With a car that gained the best setup after a longer green run, Newberry would qualify 14th with a top speed of 118.004 on the chart.
Brennan Newberry and his crew would be tormented waiting to race what they knew would be a car that could contend for the win in the Pitt Lite 125 and were forced to wait until Saturday afternoon for the start of the event. After 300 Nationwide Series Laps, the double-header would continue with the third episode of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Championship Schedule. The field received the green flag at The World's Fastest Half Mile just after 4:45pm and Newberry, starting on the outside of row number seven, was confident and optimistic on the radio coming up to speed. After 19 laps of the first green flag run, Newberry said the car was just a little free on entry but had great drive off of the corner. Even slight contact with the outside wall, after getting loose passing a competitor to gain the eleventh position, couldn't slow down the Chevrolet Impala. Caution would be displayed for the first time on lap 20 and Newberry was obviously very pleased with his car, "We have a very fast hotrod here, boys! I can put this car wherever I want". Restarting on the outside was going to be crucial to maintaining position and passing cars throughout the day, and Newberry had worked his way into the top ten by lap 48 when a major crash on the front stretch halted the field for a 19 minute red flag condition.
When the red was finally lifted, Newberry restarted in eighth and worked the outside groove to pass four cars in only four laps. By the halfway point, Newberry was well inside the top five and told his team to make no changes to the car during the five minute break. When the race was resumed on lap 72 Newberry moved into the third position to setup one of the most exciting battles of the day with NTS Motorsports teammate Gray Gaulding.
With both cars working multiple lines, swapping positions, and racing clean, Newberry and Gaulding battled for second until the yellow flag was displayed once again on lap 102 with the Qore-24 Chevrolet lined up to restart in the third position. Restarting on the inside would prove to be a challenge for everyone during the event and Newberry, on the inside of row two, knew that his work would be cut out for him once the field received the green. With only three scheduled laps remaining, Newberry was well poised for a great finish, restarting on the outside in fourth for the first Green-White-Checkered attempt. In overtime, the leaders would battle hard and swap positions throughout the top five in the final two laps. After a total of 132 laps, Newberry would score his second best finish of the year in fourth and continues to carry momentum looking for his first win going into the next event at Greenville Pickens Speedway.
Brennan Newberry's Post-Race Thoughts:
"When the words "Bristol Motor Speedway" come to mind, I think of legends and history. My first K&N Pro Series East race at The Last Great Coliseum this weekend will go in my own personal history books as one of my best. I didn't start where I had hoped, but felt the finish was right on target. The Qore-24 Chevrolet Impala felt flawless throughout the race and I knew we had a car capable of bringing home a win. Gray and I both had hard fought top five finishes which made it feel like a win for our entire NTS Motorsports team. Now it on to Greenville Pickens for more personal history to be written"
John Monsam's Post-Race Thoughts:
"I am very proud of our NTS Motorsports Qore-24 Chevrolet team after a great weekend at Bristol, which is a tough but very fun challenge for every competitor. After an exciting race and Green-White-Checkered finish we brought home a solid fourth place finish and continue to get closer and closer to our first win of the season. Looking ahead to Greenville Pickens, I think we have a lot of momentum with us and I Know Brennan is ready to get that checkered flag that all of our guys in Kernersville deserve for building such fast race cars week in and week out"