Dave Reed Racing (DRR) completed the 2016 SPEARS (SRL) Southwest Tour Series Owners Championship tenth, in the final standings. Reed’s primary team competed in the number-2 and number-14 Approved Memory Chevrolets, with Craig Raudman, Eric Norris and Austin Reed scoring points in eight of the nine series events. Raudman finished with five starts, one top 5, and two top 10’s with Austin Reed picking up one top 10 in his two efforts. In addition, Ricky Schlick entered four races in the number-42 Chevrolet, with a best effort of ninth, at Kern County Raceway (CA) in October. In 2017, Reed’s team will return with considerably higher expectations, with the equipment, manpower and drivers to achieve their goals.
Dave Reed has been a fixture in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Series over the last several seasons, but he has been a car owner for numerous years, utilizing multiple drivers during that time. Reed’s first foray into racing, as a car owner was in 1993, when he bought a Cajon Speedway (CA) Super Late Model from Mark Norris. It was converted to a road race car, where long-time friend Danny Kirby drove it at Willow Springs Raceway (CA). That season also saw Trans Am driver Bob Patch and CART Championship Car Series driver Chris Kneifel behind the wheel.
Reed spent the majority of his years as a car owner, fielding cars in the NASCAR and SPEARS (SRL) Southwest Tour Series, but also ventured into the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, as well as the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. His biggest accomplishment was a NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour (NFSWT) Series Championship with Craig Raudman in 2001. Over the last 23 years of off and on ownership, Reed also provided rides to drivers such as Dan Press, Ron Esau, Scott Hansen, Tom Hubert, Jason Jefferson, Harry Jefferson and Dallas Montes.
The 2015 season saw Dave Reed Racing enter ten SRL events with Austin Reed and Craig Raudman. Raudman participated in six of those events, finishing in the top 10 in every race. Those results led to optimism for 2016, but despite several good efforts, the 2001 NASCAR Southwest Tour Series Championship car owner was not happy with those results. The season started out decent, with three top 10 efforts in the first four races entered, but the team couldn’t get back in the top 10 the rest of the season, with the No. 2 and No. 14 machines. As a result, Reed will be making some big changes for the 2017 season.
“I definitely was not satisfied,” Reed told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We started off okay, but the rain at the season opener in Las Vegas (NV) hurt all the teams. We kind of struggled this year, so the three cars we had are all going out to the pasture, or somewhere else. We are building two new Victory Circle Straight Rail Cars here, and then I have Bond Suss, formerly of KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) building us a third car.”
Recent developments with the driver line-up, has created another change of plans for Dave Reed Racing. With the announcement of Ricky Schlick persuing different options for this season, Reed will now pursue an owner’s and possible driver championship, with Craig Raudman while fielding a second team, at select events, with a cast of different drivers.
Reed began, “A little over a month ago, I heard that we had Ricky (Schlick) for four races confirmed, and he was most likely going to do the whole year. Obviously that changed. They are really super great people, and I wish them the best, and I hope that it works out for them. But they are kind of going to do their own thing. For me, it helps us focus on one program, and that is going to be Craig (Raudman). Our current plan is to run for the owner and driver championship, with Craig behind the wheel. He has one conflicting race at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV) in May, so we are trying to work around that. Worst case scenario would be for an owner’s championship only, with putting someone else in the car for that race.”
The number-14 car, in the Dave Reed Racing stable, will be piloted by a cast of different drivers that will hopefully include his son Austin, Eric Norris, a well-known West Coast Racing standout and an East Coast driver.
“As of a few weeks ago, the plan was to run Austin in about three events, but his schedule at David Gilliland Racing (DGR) is constantly changing”, Reed said. “They are currently looking at revision number seven on their schedule, so we need to figure out which events he will actually be able to participate in. In addition, we are hopeful to have Eric Norris in the car for a couple of races, as well as a couple of races with a driver from back East, that I can’t quite mention yet. We also have plans to hopefully put a well-known West Coast driver in the car, for the event that Craig has a conflict with. Once we know if Craig can make that race or not, we will be able to announce it. We would also like to have him in the 14 car as well. I think it would be really good for the series, because it is a driver who is a household name, is familiar with the series, and is familiar with the NASCAR K&N West Series as well”, Reed concluded.
The final car, in the Dave Reed Racing arsenal, will be used as a back-up car for the two primary machines, with the ultimate goal of getting the owner/driver championship in the No. 2 car. Reed feels that having only one driver in the primary car, could help in achieving that goal. It is a change from last year, as alternating drivers led to additional challenges.
“When you have two drivers who have a hundred-pound weight difference between them you have to move lead around and make changes in the setup of the car”, Reed began. “The car is going to have a whole different setup between the two. It’s probably more of an issue, and more work, for the guys in the shop to change over the cars, than anything else. As far as working with the guys that we work with, I don’t think it is really a problem. Everybody is really good at what they do, they give good feedback, and it is actually kind of fun working with the different drivers. It can be a challenge a times, but with three different cars this year we shouldn’t have to worry about making all those changes”, Reed surmised.
The first event for Reed, and the SRL, will be the “SPEARS Manufacturing 100” at Irwindale Speedway (CA), on March 25th. The event will be in combination with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, and their twin 100-lap races. DRR is hoping to bring two bullets to the season opener, with Craig Raudman, and possibly Eric Norris behind the wheel. Raudman’s last start at Irwindale Speedway was in 2009, but he has had a great deal of success there. Craig has a NFSWT win in 2001 and five top two finishes in 12 series starts. His lone two events, in the SRL, resulted in sixth and third place efforts. Eric Norris had a personal best Irwindale finish of second, in his 2002 NASCAR K &N Pro West Series Championship season. Norris’ participation will depend upon his ability to fit it into his filming schedule, for the “Hawaii 5-O” Television Series. Look for both teams to be strong contenders, with support from Approved Memory, K & N Filters, Lucas Oil, Eibach Springs, Fluidyne, Ringer Gloves, AMC Optics, JDA Enterprises, Victory Circle Chassis, Joe’s Racing Products and power by Peters Racing Engines.
-By Kevin Peters, Speed51.com Contributor
-Photo Credit: Kevin Peters/Speed51.com