After a trying week at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway, Ligonier native, Garrett Smithley, posted his career-best NASCAR Cup Series finish in the 26th place at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Smithley was driving the unsponsored No. 77 owned by Spire Motorsports and operated by Rick Ware Racing.

Bristol Motor Speedway isn’t one of Smithley’s favorite tracks, however, he was able to fight a tight race car for his best finish ever in the NASCAR Cup Series.

“I am super happy with our finish today,” Smithley said. “It’s a love-hate relationship with Bristol.”

“Bristol is the most physical track we go to ... it beats you up. Fortunately, I had a good cool box. It kept my helmet cool and they built a good car that was cool inside.”

Smithley said that he settles into a groove at Bristol.

“You get into a rhythm, 500 laps is a lot of laps, Xfinity does half, they do 250,” Smithley said. “You never get a chance to relax, because you are constantly turning. You’ve got 3G’s in the corners, you’re running a 16-second lap, and you don’t even have time to blink.”

Smithley will make his second Xfinity Series start on Saturday in Atlanta behind the wheel of the SS Greenlight No. 07.

Then on Sunday, Herobox.org will sponsor Smithley in the Rick Ware Racing No. 53 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500. Herobox.org was set to be on the car for the Atlanta race in April that was canceled because of the pandemic.

In other NASCAR news, Gov. Tom Wolf permitted Pocono Raceway to host a NASCAR doubleheader weekend on June 26-27, without fans in the grandstands.

With a Saturday-Sunday race event for the Cup series, and a Xfinity Series race on Saturday, Smithley continues to search for sponsorship for the Pocono race weekend. Any Pennsylvania based companies would benefit from being associated with the only Pa-born driver in NASCAR’s top-two series competing at Pocono.

LOCAL TRACKS: News broke earlier this week that former Dog Hollow Speedway promoter, Dan Savino, secured a lease to reopen Marion Center Speedway, which had been shuttered for the past two years. Savino plans for a July opening after making several improvements including new clay being applied to the MCS surface. Savino had been hosting track rentals at Dog Hollow Speedway this season... Bedford Speedway will celebrate its 84th anniversary when they reopen on Friday... Jennerstown Speedway Complex LLC will open on Saturday, June 6, with their regular racing program, and fans will be allowed. Gates will open at 4 p.m., and tickets will be sold in the parking lot. Masks are recommended, but not required. The track has a permitted capacity of 5,000 fans and the concession stands will be open... Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex will be back in action with two-nights of racing, Saturday, and Sunday... Tri-City Raceway Park (formally Tri-City Speedway) in Franklin, will reopen Sunday, at 6 p.m... Not all local tracks can open because of county or state-issued restrictions related to COVID-19...Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, the NHRA sanction drag racing facility announced on Wednesday that it would not reopen in 2020 because of COVID-19. President, Bill Bader, said that the family-owned facility lost 83% of its revenue for the year.

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(D.J. Johnson can be reached by email at DJ1360rpm@aol.com and on Twitter @DJJohnsonPIT)

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