Rusty Ballenger set for run in Warrior house car … and much more

The Warrior house car

Some of the most well known drivers in Dirt Late Model racing have wheeled Warrior Race Cars during the time that chassis building organization has been in business. However, in the highly competitive world of motorsports, there are always competitors who will be looking to pass the leaders. Now the Tennessee-based company is working to place its name back at the top and the company’s boss, Mike Nuchols, is in the process of developing a plan to do just that.

In the upcoming 2023 season, Warrior will maintain its house car, as it has done in the past. But instead of just one driver as was the case with Ryan King over the past few seasons, multiple pilots will be employed.

Rusty Ballenger has driven Warriors for several years and achieved success around the east Tennessee region in his own No. 29 machine. The 32-year-old driver from Seymour, Tennessee is a two-time United Championship Racing Alliance champion(2016 & 2017) and a former 411 Motor Speedway track champion in the Limited Late Model class back in 2013.

Ballenger and Nuchols will join forces during the coming campaign.

The team’s first race will likely come on the weekend in which the XR Super Series will sanction a $100,000-to-win event at the Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tennessee. Ballenger will be behind the wheel for that race.

Rusty Ballenger

“Mike has his own car and he’s worked out a deal with me,” Ballenger told “We’re going to start at, hopefully, at Bulls Gap at the end of March. It’s going to be a deal where I’ll run it a few times and he’s got other drivers who are going to drive it.”

At least in the beginning, Ballenger will not have a set number of starts planned in the car. Nuchols also intends to use Louisiana standout Tony Lindsey in the No. 1G machine.

“He’s wanting to put different drivers in it at places where they are good,” Ballenger explained. “We’ve done real good at Bulls Gap so we’ll start there. He has a guy in Louisiana, Lindsey, he’s going to run some of the tracks in Mississippi and Louisiana. He’s just going to places where he has guys who he knows are good to run in those places.”

Nuchols said that, as of now, he only has definite plans for Ballenger and Lindsey but other possibilities are out there.

“Currently, Rusty and Tony are my only two drivers that I have plans nailed down,” Nuchols confirmed by phones. “I’m going to roll with it throughout the whole year and see who is available and see what kind of races we can do. I have talked to some local drivers who have been in my equipment before and know my cars and who want to help me showcase our equipment.”

Ballenger will have plenty to do when he isn’t driving the Super Late Model for Nuchols. Not only will he continue to drive his own Limited Late Model but will also take part in Crate Late Model shows in a second Warrior house car.

“What we’re going to do, Mike actually has two cars now,” Ballenger pointed out. “I’m going to be driving a No. 1G Crate Late Model in the big events and we’ll hit some local events too. Then, I’ve got some sponsors lined out, I’ve got a spec motor to run, in the No. 29 car this year. I don’t think we’re going to do any points or anything like that. We might do some of the Topless Outlaws depending on what their schedule looks like. We don’t really like to run points.”

Mike Nuchols

The Warrior team as well as Ballenger’s own operation will face many of the same issues that most others have to confront in the racing business. Because of some of those issues, he doesn’t foresee many nights in which he will be taking on two divisions at once.

“We just want to go where it’s the best money, with fuel costs and tires, it’s whatever is best for that particular weekend,” Ballenger stated. “It’s just me and we’ve got a few helpers but we’ll definitely do a Crate or Spec motor race on a Friday and then maybe something with the Super on Saturday or vice-versa. It just depends. It’s really going to be week-to-week depending on trailers and people helping. It’s a lot of work to go race two times in one night.”

The Warrior house car to be used primarily for Super Late Model competition is a brand new machine. Nuchols recently took it to show off at the PRI Trade Show last month in Indianapolis. Ballenger looks forward to taking the wheel of his new ride.

“Oh yeah, there’s a big difference,” he replied when asked about the differences of going from one class to another. “I drove Ryan’s super one night at Crossville and then I had to jump into my Crate and it’s night and day different. The adjustments are different, the way you drive the car is a little different. It’ll be a good learning experience for me. I feel like we’re ready for it. We’ve raced for years and kind of wanted to venture out more than just Crate racing.”

The goals for this new venture are two-fold. One of the primary reasons for chassis builders to have a house car is to better serve their customers, but at the same, that team wants to put its best foot forward every night.

“You always say you want to win but with the Super stuff and the Spec motor stuff we just want to be consistent and be up front,” Ballenger declared. “I feel like we can once we get learning. Me and Mike have built a pretty big notebook and built an even bigger notebook for other drivers who run these new Warriors. We just want to keep the program going, we’ve got a good thing going right now.”

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