On Tuesday, three CARS Tour Late Model Stock Car competitors turned laps around the historic Rockingham Speedway for a tire test ahead of the series’ 2021 season opener at the venue.
While more tire testing will be necessary following inconclusive results from the test, all drivers involved came away surprised by the speed the Late Models carry around “The Rock.” While official lap times were not provided, average speeds of more than 145 miles per hour were reported throughout the day as teams consistently turned laps in less than 25 seconds around the 1.017-mile facility.
Reigning series champion Jared Fryar, Timothy Peters and Layne Riggs took part in the test on Tuesday at the high-banked oval just over a mile in length.
“I was surprised, man,” said Fryar. “The facility and the racing surface are in great shape. They put a lot of work in cleaning up. It’s like any older race track, it’s got some bumps and cracks, but I think it’ll put on some great racing.”
Riggs echoed Fryar’s sentiments, admitting that the speed of the track not only caught him by surprise, but led to some early adjustments on his machine.
“Man, it’s wild for sure,” said Riggs. “The only time I’ve run it is on iRacing. Our first couple of laps, we were pretty far off on our travels and absolutely murdered the racetrack.”
Timothy Peters was the only participant of the three with prior experience at Rockingham. Peters competed in two NASCAR Truck Series events at the track, finishing fifth in 2012. He enjoyed having the opportunity to tackle the fabled race track in a different machine.
“It’s really cool to be here with a Late Model Stock and the CARS Tour,” said Peters. “What Jack is doing, stepping outside of the back and getting the excitement and energy to come here.
“So far, it’s been pretty cool, pretty exciting. We’ve had some ‘you-know-what’ moments, but overall, things are going well.”
Fryar and Riggs drew comparisons to another high-banked oval, Bristol Motor Speedway. Both drivers have competed at Bristol in the U.S. Short Track Nationals.
“It’s got a lot of characteristics of Bristol,” said Fryar. “Having a good feeling for Bristol carries over to here. It’s a lot of corner speed and load. The straightaways are longer, but the facility’s in great shape and I think the racing will be good.”
“It reminds me a lot of Bristol,” echoed Riggs. “Once you’re in the corner, you stab it right back in the throttle. I was letting out a lot, still hitting the race track, so once we get it dialed in I think I’ll at least be partially in the throttle all the way around the race track.”
While the newcomers compared Bristol and Rockingham, Peters said Tuesday’s experience compared very little to his time at the track in a NASCAR Truck Series entry.
“Both of them have their own unique thrill,” said Peters. “Obviously, with the Late Model, it’s a lot more throttle time. Being Rockingham is a little more than a mile long, the Late Models are humping it around here. It’s a lot of fun.”
Peters expects, as more drivers take part in testing ahead of the March 6, 2021 event, there will be some timid racers at first.
“It’s going to be different. There will be some guys who are timid at first, likely so. This is a big track for these cars.”
There will be another tire test on Tuesday, December 22 to gather more data on the General Tire-branded sets being utilized for the event. A pair of open tests are scheduled for January 23 and February 20, 2021 ahead of the $10,000-to-win CARS Tour season opener at Rockingham.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo