Southwest Virginia Team Wins at Bristol

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BRISTOL, Tenn. — Eric McClure was just a young child when his father and uncles, owners of Abingdon, Virginia’s Morgan-McClure Motorsports, earned their first NASCAR victory , roughly a dozen miles from home at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Morgan-McClure Motorsports went on to win three separate Daytona 500 races with drivers Ernie Irvan and Sterling Marlin in the iconic #4 Kodak Chevrolet.

Though the team would eventually disband, Eric McClure would go on enjoy a longtime career in NASCAR Xfinity Series racing.

Less than two weeks ago, McClure, who is not competing in the Xfinity Series this year, announced to a packed room of media representatives in Abingdon that he and fellow driver Hal Martin would be fielding two entries in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The newly formed team, running under the banner of Martin-McClure Racing, was joined by Reynolds Wrap and Food Country USA, serving as primary sponsors of Knoxville driver Chad Finchum, 19, and Caleb Holman, 32, of Abingdon, Virginia, respectively.

McClure, a native of Chilhowie, Virginia, told media representatives that he wanted to separate his team from the bulk of other NASCAR organizations based in North Carolina, by launching Martin-McClure Racing out of Southwest Virginia.  McClure told reporters, “We want to build here and grow here and hire locally.”

Arriving at Bristol Friday afternoon, the Virginia car owner was unsure of what to expect from his two cars, however, following qualifying runs in which Finchum  scored 4th fastest in the field of 29 and Holman posted a 13th place starting position made team founders cautiously optimistic.

McClure praying, with 5 laps left in the race.
McClure praying, with 5 laps left in the race.

That optimism was turned to pure elation Saturday afternoon when Martin-McClure Racing’s #39 Reynolds Wrap Toyota Camry, piloted by Chad Finchum, took the lead in the opening laps of the 125-lap race and rocketed away from the competition in the Pitt Lite 125.

Once securing the lead, Finchum never looked back, despite having to fight off the second place challenger in a series of restarts following a handful of late-race cautions, including one following an accident involving teammate Caleb Holman in the Food Country USA car.

Finchum, who had never finished higher than seventh, won the race, giving car-owner Eric McClure his first NASCAR victory.

Following the race, inside the NASCAR media room, McClure told reporters “I cried several times… To see my dad come in victory lane, it was so emotional. Professionally, this is the greatest day of my life.”

The team will be competing April 30th at the Virginia International Raceway road course.

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