It has become one of the most unexpected pairings in short track racing in the last year. Cole Anderson, a Late Model racer from Minnesota, traveling south to Florida and taking to New Smyrna Speedway as if he had raced there for many years.
As the season winds down, Anderson is now heading back to the race that started it all for him, a race in which he started on the pole in his first appearance on the high speed half-mile; the Florida Governor’s Cup 200.
Since leading the Governor’s Cup field to the green flag one year ago, Anderson has won three times at New Smyrna during the past 12 months. His wins include a sweep of the Red-Eye 100 and Orange Blossom 100 Super Late Model races in January, his second and third appearances in a Super Late Model at New Smyrna.
“That was pretty exciting, winning on my second trip to New Smyrna was pretty big for us and it’s become one of my favorite tracks,” Anderson told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We had a decent Speedweeks and we’ve been good throughout the year.”
The Governor’s Cup brings a different set of challenges for teams and drivers, including the new controlled pit stop format announced earlier in the week by the track. But the biggest challenge is that it will be double the distance of the races that Anderson has claimed at New Smyrna.
“In the 100 lap races, you got to get up and go more,” he stated. “In the 200 laps you can wait around for 50 to 100 laps, but I think you got to let it sort out in the first 10 or 15 laps and then try to pick your way through the field.”
As for the big reason that Anderson has been so successful from the start at New Smyrna, he is not sure he has found one. He is sure that he likes the track and his team has consistently given him great cars there.
“I’m not really sure, it’s kind of fit my driving style. Ever since we came down for the Governor’s Cup last year we’ve been pretty fast at New Smyrna,” Anderson explained. “Not real sure, I’ve just kind of drawn a liking. I didn’t think I’d take to it, I didn’t think I’d be racing down South. I heard about New Smyrna on iRacing, but again I never thought I’d actually be racing there, to think that it’s become one of my best tracks is pretty cool.”
While Anderson would appreciate having just a strong performance in the prestigious race, it is the number of heavy hitters he will compete against that gives him motivation to chase the win on Sunday. Should he win, he will have beaten some of the sport’s best.
“We’re going to try that’s for sure. It’s one of the trophies I really want,” Anderson declared. “It would be fun if I could get up front and lead some laps. If we could get a top five that would be pretty awesome too, but the ultimate goal is to try and get the win.”
Even more impressive, Anderson has started to prove himself away from New Smyrna Beach, Florida by competing in 11 of the 12 races on the Southern Super Series in 2016. He finished fourth in the championship standings and collected back-to-back victories in Alabama at Montgomery Motor Speedway and South Alabama Speedway.
His strong showings competing against some of the toughest Late Model racers in the Southeast gives him experience and strength that he hopes to carry into the final races of 2016.
“We’ve had a great experience racing in the Southern Super Series. We’ve learned a ton, our team has grown so much over the year and I’m excited to close it out with the Governor’s Cup and the Snowball Derby.”
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com