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Racing: After a dirty week, Allen glad to be home

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Willie Allen

Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the Rackley Roofing Chevrolet (left), chats with team owners Willie Allen (middle) and Curtis Sutton (right) before a recent NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event. The three will be looking for a win Friday night in the RACKLEY ROOFING 200 at Nashville Superspeedway.

Willie Allen and his Rackley-W.A.R. racing team spent a dirty week with driver Matt DiBenedetto in Iowa.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team finished 14th on the half-mile dirt track at Knoxville, Iowa, last Saturday night, moving closer to a playoff position but making cleaning and preparation for Friday night’s race at Nashville Superspeedway much more difficult.

“Dirt racing is okay, but I love asphalt,” Allen said. “We’re just trying to clean up the mess. Everything we’ve got is just covered in mud and dirt.”

The quick change from dirt to the concrete surface at NSS doesn’t worry Allen, who has complete confidence in his driver, Matt DiBenedetto.

"Matt is an awesome person and a heck of a driver,” he said. “We seem to get better and better every week. He’s a great driver, no matter what you put him in. We’ve got three races to get him into the playoffs, and we’re right on the line. We’re doing everything we possibly can to do that.

“And there is not a lot of difference between asphalt and concrete. If you have a truck that is balanced and handling well with a good driver, the cream always rises to the top. Usually, there’s not a lot of change.”

If anyone would know firsthand, it’s Allen, a whirling dervish of constant energy who has no concept of the term “vacation.” The young team owner oversees not only the often two-team truck operation, but also two cars traveling the nation as part of the W.A.R. Driver Development Program and the industry-leading W.A.R. Shocks company.

It’s a far cry from his early racing days, reading gas meters by day and winning races and the 2015 track championship at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.

“I’ve just been blessed by having my family and great friends like Wendel Mobley around me,” he said. “I’ve just been fortunate to surround myself with people who share the vision and the passion. We may not win every time, but it’s not from a lack of trying.”

He cited his partnership with Curtis Sutton, CEO of Rackley Roofing, as well.

“We just couldn’t do it without great people in each section,” Allen said. “The shock room is continuing to grow, and having Curtis’s business knowledge and acumen is a great asset.”

The pair are building an empire in NASCAR and doing it from Centerville, Tennessee, and not Charlotte, North Carolina.

“We’ve talked about (moving to Charlotte), but we really like Nashville and our relationship with Curtis,” he said. “Once you get the guys here and working on the team, they get really committed. We like what we’ve got going on right now, and things are moving along. We’re adding a second team next year and building a second shop right now.”

The team starts on that track this week, fielding not only DiBenedetto’s Rackley Roofing machine, but also a second truck, the No. 26 with Tate Fogelman behind the wheel. Fogelman won the NCWTS event at Talladega last October in a battle with Todd Gilliland and John Hunter Nemechek.

DiBenedetto’s pits will have extra help for the RACKLEY ROOFING 200, with singer/songwriter Gary LeVox, formerly of Rascal Flats, serving as an honorary crew chief.

With Sutton sponsoring the race and the star power of LeVox on the pit box, Allen was queried about feeling any extra pressure this week.

“There wasn’t any until you mentioned it,” Allen said and laughed heartily. “We put so much pressure on ourselves. We’re all racers and want to our best every single week. We’re all in every week.”

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series gets one practice session Friday at the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway at 3 p.m., with qualifying at 3:30 p.m. The RACKLEY ROOFING 200 gets the green flag at 7 p.m. Tickets are still available at www.nashvillesuperspeedway.com or 1-866-RACE-TIX.

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