*This is the second of a two-part series of stories based on an interview with racer Chad Finchum. The first of these pieces was posted on August 2, 2017. Here is that story–> Chad Finchum working hard to climb the NASCAR ladder
Racer Chad Finchum has already made three starts on the NASCAR Xfinity Series during the 2017 season. Although racing at places such as Dover International Speedway, Kentucky Speedway and the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been great, the Knoxville, Tenn. driver is perhaps most excited about his next start coming this Friday night in the Food City 300 at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
Not only will Finchum be racing in front of fans in his home state when he takes to the concrete covered high banks in Bristol but he will also be returning to a place at which he has experienced success in the past. Most notably, the 23-year-old won a K&N Pro Series event at the upper east Tennessee facility in 2016 while driving for owner Eric McClure.
The former Lonesome Pine Speedway track champion is hopeful that the career path of asphalt Late Model racing he has chosen will eventually land him in a fully funded NASCAR Xfinity Series ride. For now, however, Finchum is making spot starts in a car owned by veteran racer Carl Long.
“I would like to think so,” Finchum said in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “I really want to get into this series. With this being the year that I made my debut, I’m only allowed so many starts to maintain rookie status. I want to keep that rookie status so I have to watch how many races I run this year in case something comes through and I’m able to run full-time next year. I could compete for ‘Rookie of the Year’.”
Bristol Motor Speedway certainly holds a special place for Finchum but he looks forward to showing off his skills at other venues at some point in the future. He also hopes to roll his Late Models back onto the track at some point.
“There’s nothing set in stone, no certain tracks or certain races, but there’s still a good bit of racing left this year,” Finchum pointed out. “I think Late Models will run all the way through to November at some tracks so we’re definitely going to hit a few more tracks this year. I love racing the Late Models and I hate seeing them just sit in the garage and collect dust but it’s kind of a bitter-sweet combination because I’m parking these cars to get to go do something else that I love.”
One important thing Finchum has been able to achieve during this season has been to gain approval from NASCAR to race on every type of track sanctioned by the organization.
“NASCAR has a good approval process,” the driver said. “You have to start out on the smallest tracks, which are Bristol and Martinsville, and just work your way up. That’s kind of what I’ve done. That’s one of the main reasons we went and ran Indy was because it is a two-and-a-half-mile track that’s big and fast. That finished up my approval for all the tracks in NASCAR. Moving forward, we can get out there and race real hard. We had a good showing there(Bristol) in the K&N car but we know we’re going in equipment that’s a little bit older and our expectations are not to win, but we are looking to run pretty good.”
Finchum grew up as a fan of racing in general and NASCAR in particular. As a result, the desire to make it into the sport’s top level has been ingrained in him for years.
“Dad and my granddad were big NASCAR fans,” he recalled. “I remember going to church then maybe drive-thru the Kentucky Fried Chicken and go home to watch the race then go back to church. That was a regular Sunday routine during the entire racing season. As a kid I always had die-cast cars and I’d get in the floor and do my own type racing. I just grew up as a big fan and then when I got old enough I was playing ball sports, I ran track and played tee ball. Then my dad got me a little yard cart at the house and I just wanted to get done with school everyday so I could go home and drive that.
“I’ve just always been driven to race,” Finchum continued. “When I was about six there was an ad in the newspaper for a boy who was selling out and I ended up talking dad into buying it. We got out there on the race track and won the first time. The enjoyment I have of trying to live my dream is definitely cool.”