GREENVILLE, S.C. — Audio, photo and story by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman —
Reid Wilson finally had his breakout moment on Saturday night at Greenville Pickens Speedway, wheeling the No. 66 MDA Summer Camp-TruNorth Warranty Programs Chevrolet for Young’s Motorsports to an impressive sixth-place effort in the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150.
The result was Wilson’s career-best in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, coming in just his second series start, and the Mooresville, N.C. native expressed that the showing was a huge step for the team after a lackluster debut during February Speedweeks in Florida.
“We didn’t have the greatest showing in (the season-opener at) New Smyrna — we qualified 17th and finished 17th — so to come out and do what we did this weekend was pretty amazing for us,” Wilson said. “After that first race, we found that there were a lot of things that we, as a team, needed to work on … both me as a driver and with the car as well.”
“We’ve gotten a lot of that worked out now, but we’ve really still got more to work on going forward. For our second appearance in a K&N race though — with the little experience that I have and that this team has in the series — to come out here and finish sixth … I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Wilson started the race 10th and maintained a consistent top 10 running position for the majority of the event. He ran as high as ninth during the first half of the 150-lap event, making that pass on lap 56, but faded slightly to 11th by the time the crossed flags came out to signify the halfway break.
Under the caution, Wilson and crew chief Andrew Abbott changed four tires and made some minor adjustments in hopes of improving the drive-ability of the car in the second half, and the changes paid big dividends. The 19-year-old was able to capitalize on restarts at laps 81 and 91 to move from 11th to eighth in a hurry before settling into a groove for the last long run of the race.
Wilson bided his time through the latter stages of the race before making his move on tires he had saved throughout the run. He overhauled Las Vegas teenager Noah Gragson for seventh with 35 laps to go, and moved by Kaz Grala to take over the sixth spot at the 17 to go mark — ultimately finishing in that position when the checkered flag flew.
The former Legends car and Pro Cup driver came out of the car all smiles, exchanging high fives and hugs with the crew after a solid performance.
“We had been talking about it all week, saying that we were going to be close to victory lane and that we were gonna have a fast car,” Wilson grinned. “We were believing in it, and it actually happened. I’m happy, the crew is ecstatic, and I think when we come back to the track for our next race we’ll be even faster.”
“Maybe (we could have gotten) a top five … we were one spot off and that kills us all … but sixth is really good for the (caliber of the) 21 cars that started the race.”
Wilson said that his key to finishing the race strong was the line that he found during the first half of the event — using the race track to conserve his tires against the abrasive half-mile’s tricky surface.
“The key with us … was keeping the car pinned down to the bottom in the center of the corners, coming out of both two and four,” he explained. “As long as I could get down to the bottom, stay down there and just get a run straight up off — all the way to the wall — I could save my tires all night long and it burned our stuff up so much less than some of the other guys up front.”
“I can’t believe some of the teams we beat. We were as fast as the guys up front late in the race, and we beat three of the four HScott (Motorsports with Justin Marks) cars at the end of the day. For us, as a smaller team trying to build this program, that’s a big deal.”
In addition to the finish, Wilson was also smiling after having had several fans fighting muscular dystrophy supporting him at the race track — all thanks to the efforts of one of his primary sponsors, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and their MDA Summer Camp program.
“It was huge to have the kids here from the MDA Summer Camp and to be able to give them a memory that they’ll hopefully keep with them for a long time to come. I’ve worked with the MDA for several years now, and it always means a lot to be able to make an impact like that in the lives of the kids that they work with. I’m grateful and blessed to be a small part of that.”
Despite seven top fives, 17 top 10s and a pole in 20 starts in the defunct CARS Pro Cup Series (now the CARS Tour for Super Late Models and Late Model Stock Cars), the North Carolina rising star circles Saturday night as the biggest bullet on his career resume to date.
At least for now, anyways.
“I’d say that the biggest moment (of my career) — at least until the next race — would be this one,” he smiled. “That was the most fun I’ve had driving stock cars in a long time.”
Wilson will return to the track on Monday, May 30 for the ComServe Memorial Day Classic at Dominion Raceway in Virginia, round five of the K&N East schedule and the series’ inaugural visit to the facility.
Listen in to Race Chaser Online’s full conversation with Reid Wilson by clicking on the player below:
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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