Randy Gentry will pilot his familiar No. 09 Toyota in this weekend’s CARS Super Late Model Tour event at Greenville-Pickens Speedway only a week after his son Riley Gentry was injured at the track.
Randy is optimistic that Riley will return to the driver’s seat soon but he is not letting the circumstances deter the excitement of his first start in over a year.
“I’ve been looking forward to this,” Randy said. “We’ve always ran good at Greenville and I’ve been helping Riley a lot in Limiteds. He’s become quite the little wheelman and I made a joke that if he could run faster than me in the car, he could race it.”
Only two laps had passed in Saturday’s race at Greenville-Pickens when Riley got hooked by another car, sending him head-on into the outside retaining wall in Turn 2.
Riley broke his collarbone and fractured the L5 vertebrae in his back during the crash. He is scheduled to have surgery on his collarbone Monday.
Riley had won three of the first four Limited Late Model races at Greenville-Pickens to open 2021 but is now focusing on rehab while Randy prepares for this weekend’s CARS SLM Tour event.
The car Randy will be driving is one prepared by Hamke Race Cars, which has sit idle in the shop since Randy’s most recent start at Lanier National Speedway on Nov. 16, 2019.
When Randy saw that the CARS SLM Tour would head to Greenville-Pickens in 2021, he knew that he had to start working on his old car again to ensure that it would be ready for the event.
Randy has seen Super Late Model racing evolve drastically in the last decade but he hopes the combined knowledge of him and Riley will make his No. 09 HarrisonsWorkwear.com Toyota competitive for 150 laps.
“Racing these straight-rails is like a chess match,” Randy said. “I’ve watched a lot of those races and even practiced my son’s car some. I still know what to look for and [Riley and I] have been pretty good together as a result.”
Although Randy has been an infrequent competitor at Greenville-Pickens during his career, the facility has been one of his best tracks, as he has seven Top 5 finishes there between the NASCAR All Pro Series and USAR Pro Cup Series.
Randy said that the unique design of Greenville-Pickens requires drivers to be cautious with their approach while simultaneously being patient up until the closing stages.
“Greenville is a little tricky to get around,” Randy said. “People can overdrive it easy and Turns 3 and 4 are way different than Turns 1 and 2. If you can get through 1 and 2 good, you should be able to fly through 3 and 4. You also need to have brakes at the end, otherwise you’re going to be in trouble.”
Even with all of the changes that have occurred in racing, Randy still expects Saturday to be tough from a competitive standpoint with an entry list that includes Stephen Nasse, Matt Craig, Jeff Fultz and Lee Tissot.
Randy is ready to embrace the tough competition in the CARS SLM Tour and re-introduce himself to the newer drivers that are progressing through the ranks.
“Some of these other drivers probably don’t even know who I am but that’s a positive,” Randy said. I’ve had to race against some of the best in Freddie Query, Bobby Gill and Wayne Anderson. Those guys are all legends but I’m looking forward [to Saturday] and I think we’ll be competitive.”
Once Riley recovers from the injuries he sustained, Randy will return to the normal role of supporting his son as he develops his own career, which could include a potential full-time CARS Tour season in 2022.