The dreary race day weather that has plagued Fairground Speedway Nashville (TN) has left Late Model drivers from far and near extra eager to get on the historic 5/8-mile high-banked oval under race conditions. This Saturday will be their next chance, with the 100-lap North-South Super Late Model Challenge under the banners of the ARCA/CRA Super Series, CARS Super Late Model Tour and Southern Super Series.
In particular, Indiana’s Cole Williams, who has made a name for himself over the past half-decade at the Fairgrounds, is eager to get back after striking out not once, not twice, but three times now due to mother nature.
“We’ve had back-to-back rain outs there with the All-American 400 and the local event from two weeks ago. So, I’m excited to race there, especially in the Super Late Model,” Williams told Speed51.
Certainly, Nashville’s reputation has been a great draw for Williams and many drivers over the years. At the same time, there’s so much more to it.
“Having a lot of laps helps going into Nashville, plus the history of the place is something everybody looks forward to heading there,” Williams stated. “The track is very competitive; there are a lot of grooves you can race in, and with the high speeds the place has a lot of character. The atmosphere there with the fans that come with it are unbelievable.”
Two Pro Late Model track titles in 2014 and 2016, plus a 2015 runner-up, are also a good incentive for Williams to keep coming back in both Super and Pro Late Models.
“The goal for me was always just to win one and to win two was just unbelievable,” he reflected. “We’re actually shooting to run for the championship again this year for the first time a couple of years. Maybe we can make it three.”
As for the Super Late Model front, Williams is still fairly new to the game despite dabbling in the class the past few seasons at a number of tracks. Going forward, it’s about getting laps in competition that will be critical to improving his craft.
“I feel like we’ve had a lot of time when it comes to testing and stuff like that with the Super Late Model. It’s just that the three races I got to run, we had parts failures in all three of them, so that shows the luck I’ve had,” Williams said. “With our own team doing a Super Late Model, that’s still a new deal overall, not just for me. So, we’re still trying to figure it out. I feel like we had enough laps at Nashville based off the last few tests and practice for the All-American. We have a really good car for this weekend.”
With just 100 laps of racing scheduled for Saturday, Williams knows that the further forward you start the better your chances will be. While starting mid-pack isn’t necessarily an end-all, it does come with a price even with a good race setup.
“Qualifying is going to be crucial for sure, especially if you can get into the invert, usually CRA and CARS do an invert. It’ll be big, but last year Casey Roderick started about 15th or so, and about halfway through the race he came shooting through the field. The place does eat tires like tires like crazy, it’s all going to be about who manages their tires, and just keeping your nose clean. So, you just need to maintain your car for the 100 laps to be able to go for the win.”
For Williams, the key to winning will be having the car and driver skills to put together the most ideal night possible beginning with qualifying and ending after 100 laps of racing.
“If you have a good race pace car, that’ll be better than having a good qualifying run, but you want to have a good car overall in both categories,” he claimed. “That’s one thing we’ve been working on, is qualifying runs. The car hasn’t been spectacular for us on sticker tires, so that’s something we’re working on this weekend. For race runs, if we can qualify good, we’ll have a good shot at the win.”
Fans unable to make it to Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville this Saturday, can watch the North-South Super Late Model Challenge live via a pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com. Live video tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51photos.com