Trey Gibson will make his first start of the season in the Old North State Nationals this weekend at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, where he won a track championship back in 2018. (Photo: Kristy Smith-Palmer)

Trey Gibson will make his first start of the 2020 season in a car prepared by Jamie Yelton as he looks to bring home the $30,000 race-winning paycheck in the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour Old North State Nationals at Greenville-Pickens Speedway.

Gibson said that he has spent the past couple of weeks doing research on his incoming competition and observing his notes from past races at Greenville-Pickens. He’s optimistic that he can contend for the win despite being out of the car for an extended period of time.

“It was kind of a shocker when I heard the announcement,” Gibson said. “However, I was very excited because I haven’t raced at all this year. Jamie’s been a long-time racing friend of mine and we ended up putting this deal together, so I’m looking forward to this weekend, especially since the race is taking place at one of my home tracks.”

After beginning his racing career when he was eight years old, Gibson made the jump to Late Model racing in 2010, where he developed his talents as a driver at facilities like Greenville-Pickens, Hickory Motor Speedway and Anderson Motor Speedway.

As the 2010s progressed, Gibson established himself as one of the top Late Model competitors in South Carolina by winning a track championship at Anderson in 2015 before following that up with another title at Greenville-Pickens, which he claimed in 2018.

Gibson admitted that it took him some time to figure out Greenville-Pickens prior to winning his championship, and believes that drivers who do not have as much experience at the facility will face several challenges when it comes to the track’s unique layout.

“Anytime you go to the flat track, it tends to be a little bit more challenging, especially when it comes to braking and letting the car roll,” Gibson said. “A lot of people who’ve raced at Greenville-Pickens have told me that it’s one of the hardest tracks to get around. It’s a little easier with the newer pavement in the corners, but it can still be difficult at times.”

Gibson does not feel any additional pressure competing against a large field consisting of names like Josh Berry, Mike Looney and others at Greenville-Pickens on Sunday afternoon, as he has four starts in the Myrtle Beach 400, with his performance being a sixth-place run during the 2016 edition of the event.

While Gibson is determined to put together a race-winning car for the Old North State Nationals, he is also excited about merely getting back behind the wheel of a Late Model for just one race in 2020 with work primarily keeping him occupied on Saturdays.

Gibson said that he would not have been able to get his car prepared in time for the Old North State Nationals, but he considers himself fortunate to get a deal together with Yelton, which happened after Yelton brought his truck to Gibson’s shop for repairs.

Gibson is confident that he can make the most of his opportunity with Yelton, but he affirmed that being a contender through all 200 laps at Greenville-Pickens will come down to obtaining a strong qualifying run and saving equipment during the opening stages.

“Hopefully we can get a Top 5 qualifying position so we don’t have to worry about any of the heat races or the LCQ,” Gibson said. “The pace is a lot faster now than in years past, so my goal is to run at a speed that I’m comfortable with and hopefully I can stay up front and take home that check.”

Gibson will try to lock himself into the Old North State Nationals on Saturday afternoon in qualifying so he can utilize the extra time to thoroughly prepare for the main event, which will get going on Sunday at 3 p.m.

Photo: Kristy Smith-Palmer