Riley Gentry is one of several Greenville-Pickens Speedway regulars that have filed an early entry to participate in the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour’s Old North State Nationals, which was moved from its original location in Orange County Speedway due to COVID-19 concerns.
Gentry said that the Old North State Nationals moving to Greenville-Pickens came as a pleasant surprise in the middle of what has been a decent season for him, and is confident that he and his fellow local competitors can put together strong performances with $30,000 on the line.
“I was really excited when I saw the announcement,” Gentry said. “I’m very glad the CARS Tour is coming here because not only is it a chance for me, but for everyone who’s run here to step out and contend for the win against guys like Berry.”
Gentry is the son of former competitor Randy Gentry, who became a recognizable name in short track racing on the East Coast during the 1990s and 2000s by competing in several full-time seasons for the Slim Jim All Pro Series and the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series.
Gentry wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and observed how patient Randy was while navigating through traffic during each race, adding that the major aspect of his father’s driving style that he has tried to adopt in his own career is to display consistency during every single lap in order to contend for the win.
Now in his second season at Greenville-Pickens, Gentry has had plenty of time to study every unique feature of the facility and believes that he and his competition will have to be perfect in the first couple of turns to find that consistency and stay at the front of the field.
“Turns 1 and 2 are extremely important at Greenville-Pickens,” Gentry said. “If you can get those turns figured out, you are going to win the race almost every time. Turns 3 and 4 are kind of forgivable, but you do not want to mess up in those first two turns.”
Gentry is optimistic that he can use his knowledge of Greenville-Pickens to his advantage for the Old North State Nationals, as he has tallied two victories at the track in 2020 against drivers like Jason Marchbanks and current Limited Late Model points leader Cameron Bolin, both of whom are entered for the prestigious race.
Gentry knows that even qualifying for the Old North State Nationals is not guaranteed with a large entry list expected for the event, but he and his team intend to make extensive preparations to his #09 Late Model so that Gentry can put himself in a position to claim a win in his first CARS LMSC Tour appearance.
“We plan to do a lot of testing,” Gentry said. “Even though we’ve run at Greenville-Pickens all year, we still want to try some things with so many different drivers coming down here. We don’t want to burn anything up and we want to be there at the end. The car has to be comfortable to the point where you don’t have to hustle it until it’s time to go.”
Gentry’s quest to make the Old North State Nationals on Oct. 24, where he can clinch a starting position by being one of the fastest five qualifiers or by obtaining a transfer position in a heat race or the last chance qualifier. The green flag for the Old North State Nationals will fly at 3:00 p.m. on Oct. 25.
Photo by Kristy Smith-Palmer