Some people are scared of trying new things. They’re worried they might fail, so they just continue with the status quo. Chris Dilbeck is not one of those people.
Running the Florida Governor’s Cup 200 at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway is something new to Dilbeck, but he’s not scared about trying something new. He’s been wanting to race at the half-mile oval just south of Daytona Beach for a long time, and this weekend he’s finally getting his shot.
“A lot of it has to do with my car owner. He is based out of the Orlando area,” Dilbeck told Speed51.com. “His name is Ronnie Whitlock. He has a development program. Dawson Fletcher has been driving for him. Dawson has been racing at New Smyrna all year in a car that we built. He won the track championship down there. We’ve wanted to race at New Smyrna all year, so with the relationship with Ronnie we thought we’d go down there and give it a shot.”
Dilbeck will be racing his No. 9 Dollar Concrete-sponsored car against drivers like Bubba Pollard, Stephen Nasse and Jeff Choquette. Those are drivers that he is used to racing against, but having never raced at the fast high-banked race track, Dilbeck is more concerned with getting himself up to speed.
“For someone like me that doesn’t race every week, hopefully we don’t get any rain and we can get a full day of practice in on Friday, so hopefully by the end of Friday we’ll have a good idea of what we need to improve on and what direction we need to go with the car. Hopefully all of the dust is knocked off the driver by that point.”
To help him get up to speed quicker, Dilbeck said he’s been using a variety of different virtual training tools.
“I’ve made a few laps on iRacing,” he said. “Hopefully that will get me up to speed a little quicker. I can talk to Dawson some since he’s raced there so much. I have some on-board footage he’s sent me. I think we’ll be good to go as long as the driver can get up to speed.”
The Florida Governor’s Cup 200 is the longest Super Late Model race held at New Smyrna Speedway each year. Most other Super Late Model races at New Smyrna are 100 laps or less.
Dilbeck said his goal is to be conservative so that he can be around when the laps start to wind down.
“You’ve got to be there at the end, manage your equipment and manage your tires,” he stated. “In a 200-lap race, probably your number-one goal is managing your equipment. Hopefully everything you do during practice sets you up to be competitive once you’re there for the finish.”
One thing Dilbeck, the Motorsports Sales Manager for PFC Brakes, said he is not concerned about is his brakes package going the distance.
“A large part in us being there at the end is our PFC Brakes since New Smyrna is probably the toughest braking track in the Southeast. We know that won’t be a problem. The problem is that your Pollards and your Nasses and your Choquettes and all the fast guys all have the same brake package. It’s going to even out the playing field when it comes to brakes.”
A Florida Governor’s Cup 200 win is big for any driver. It’s a legendary race, especially for drivers hailing from Florida and Georgia, like Dilbeck. But for Dilbeck, a win in the $15,000-to-win race would be even more important.
“It would be huge. For me, the biggest part about it would be to win a little bit of money and take it into SpeedFest with momentum and make our stuff better in the offseason. But to add our name to that list with the Ty Majeskis and the names that are on that list would be awesome. Hopefully we can be competitive and have a shot at the end.”
The 53rdAnnual Florida Governor’s Cup 200 at New Smyrna Speedway will see the green flag fly on Sunday, November 11.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Associate Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo credit: Speed51.com