With two rounds of the 2019 Pro All Stars Series National Championship in the record books, many Super Late Model teams up and down the East Coast are beginning to finding their stride early on in the racing season. But for Derek Ramstrom and the No. 35 team, that has been anything but the case with handling issues compromising his team’s efforts.
Despite troubles at his home track of Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) last time out, the Worcester, Massachusetts native is feeling confident as he prepares to compete in an event far from home this weekend.
Hickory Motor Speedway has become a go-to venue for Ramstrom over the years, all culminating in a major victory at “The Birthplace of NASCAR Stars” last November in the PASS Mason-Dixon MegaMeltdown.
Now, it’s just a matter of putting the early trouble behind him, and getting ready to give his all in the 14th Annual Easter Bunny 150.
“We had to fix a majority of the body, but things happen. We got some problems figured out, though,” Ramstrom told Speed51.com. “There was an issue with the rear end in the car going back to Richmond. It caused the whole car to shake. So, it’s been a rough start, but the guys have been working hard to get us ready for Hickory.
“We’ve always run consistently at Hickory, either in the top five or top ten. I just love the track, it’s racy, it has all of the history, and we’re eager to get back down there.”
Even five months following his big victory at Hickory, the spark of victory continues to charge Ramstrom’s confidence through everything that has happened up until now. That’s simply because it was one of the biggest wins of his racing career.
“That’s right of up there with the best, honestly,” he stated. “Winning the Beech Ridge 300 was one of the best over my career, but last fall I think I topped that. We’ve been going down south since I was 14 years old to compete, and I had never gotten a win until last year. We came close at Southern National and we had ignition failure while leading the race. The bad luck was over our heads for a long time down there, so that was huge.”
Now Ramstrom is ready to chase after his first PASS Easter Bunny victory, a race that has gained a reputation year after year with pitting a number of top Late Model drivers in the Southeast against road warriors from the Northeast and beyond. While a number of bigger-budget operations compete in the event each year, smaller family operations like Ramstrom’s have had no problem competing up front.
“I think the North as a whole is very, very competitive. I’ve been saying for years that Tom Mayberry has one of the best series up north and in the country for Super Late Model teams and drivers,” Ramstrom claimed. “Our team is always competitive no matter where we go for a PASS race. We are a small team and we enjoy going down and competing with the southern teams, and it’s great when we can get a victory against big money guys.”
The 2019 edition of the Easter Bunny 150 is set to showcase one of the most impressive lineups of teams in race history. Despite seemingly tall odds, Ramstrom feels that he can go in as a pre-race favorite.
“If we got our stuff figured out, I think our chances are high,” he said confidently. “There are a lot of fast guys, but we got consistency and one of the smartest crew chiefs around. I’m confident of our racing ability and that we can shake off this rough start. That’s racing, it happens. We just got to keep our heads up and keep pressing. It’s a very impressive lineup we’re going against, but I love going head-to-head with the best of the best.”
Race fans unable to make the journey to Hickory Motor Speedway this Saturday can watch the day’s events live on Speed51.com via pay-per-view broadcast for just $19.99. It starts off at 4:30 p.m. ET with PASS Super Late Model qualifying, while racing action is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com