Over the years CRA SpeedFest has become known as a great winter showcase for Super Late Model drivers who have already established themselves as heavy hitters or are looking to be regarded as one. Over the past three years, North Carolina up-and-comer Tate Fogleman has put himself on the road to being a heavy hitter, and he hopes to come up big during his first field trip to CRA SpeedFest this year.
At the same time, Fogleman has a lot of learning to do in a short time, as this will not only be his first SpeedFest, but his first time down in Cordele, Georgia at Watermelon Capital Speedway.
“I’ve never even been to Georgia, except for a school field trip, but I’ve never been to Cordele or SpeedFest. I’ve heard all the stories about it, kept up with it and watched it on Speed51 in previous years,” Fogleman said. “I’ve always wanted to run the race down there. I’m looking forward to getting on the track, figuring it out, and getting up to speed.”
Already, Fogleman has learned that being fast in Cordele will mean being on the edge and being brave, even with the prospect of one slip up turning into a unwanted tour through the nearby watermelon patch.
“From the videos I’ve watched, it’s going to be different not having that outside wall down the backstretch because I’ve heard you got to be on the edge to really make speed there. That’s going to take some time to get used to in practice because all the tracks that run around the house here with PASS and CARS Tour all have walls.”
It should come as no surprise then that Fogleman will be using every second of available practice time to gather every bit of data he and the No. 8 team can get their hands on.
“With all the practice we wanted to make sure we headed down early to do that because we don’t have any data or anything to pull from," he explained. "So we’re going to use our time wisely over the practice sessions to get all we can out of the car and get a setup going."
The good news for Fogleman is that this week will not be the first time he has been on track in 2019, as he put in some track time close to home in his new Senneker Super Late Model.
“We got a new Senneker car and we’ve been working on it. We already got a chance to practice at Southern National about a week ago and things went really well. We’re hoping we can take the car down there and be fast off the trailer as well.”
With names including Bubba Pollard, Casey Roderick, and even Kyle Busch on the entry list, Fogleman is eager to take them on, especially so early in the year. He knows that if he can do well against them now, he can be ready for anyone, anywhere down the road.
“It’s a nice way to start off the year with good competition," he stated. "You’ll be able to see where you stack up against the heavy hitters going into the races we have around the house. If we can run good down there, I think we’ll have momentum going into the rest of the season. We go to every race to win, I think we got a shot, but it’s going to be tough with all the heavy hitters.”
While the Super Late Model landscape has changed in the Southeast in the offseason, Fogleman and his team are taking it as a chance to take on new competition and challenges. They only hope that they can not only start off with a trophy, but simply with their new equipment with all four corners still on it heading forward.
“We’re going to run the full CARS Tour and the PASS National races in the South. We’re also going to bounce around and hit some of the other bigger races this year. If we can get a good run at Cordele and come out of there in one piece, because the Senneker is the only car we have prepared right now, we’re planning on running PASS at Dillon and then getting ready for CARS.”
Race fans will be able to watch Fogleman compete in the 200-lap ARCA/CRA Super Series race on Saturday, January 26 by purchasing a pay-per-view video ticket on Speed51.com. Friday's qualifying action will also be streamed live exclusively to premium subscribers (monthly or yearly) on the Speed51 Network.
Both broadcasts will have a 100-mile blackout in effect for the areas surrounding Cordele, Georgia.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com