He has won in just about everything he has driven at Beech Ridge over the course of his career. For the last ten years, his time has been spent in the Sport Series where he has consistently competed for wins, the biggest to date coming in the Budweiser 100 in 2012. Now, he gets to mix it up with some of the best the Northeast has to offer at the track he calls home.
“I haven’t gotten to run the Super Late Model at Beech Ridge yet, so it’s going to be full-circle moment if you will. That’s where I started in Go-Karts on the little track,” Sanborn told Speed51. “We’ve got to win races on the little track, we’ve got to win some of the bigger races on the big track with the Sport Series. It’s going to be really cool to bring the Super Late Model to Beech Ridge and bring everything back home after our run at Hickory.”
While it will be a full-circle moment for Sanborn, it will be done with a heavy heart. His father Chuck passed away in February, and Saturday will be his first race at Beech Ridge without his father in attendance.
The racing community has rallied around him after his passing. Derek Griffith dedicated a win during the World Series of Asphalt to him and would later give him the trophy from the race. Stickers commemorating his life have been on the cars for Noah Gragson and Zane Smith in the NASCAR Xfinity and Truck Series, and will be in abundance on Saturday.
“My dad’s the whole reason why I ended up having this whole racing life. Hickory was the first race he ever missed because he passed away. Being able to bring it back home to the racetrack that’s only a couple miles from my house, it’s going to be a very special moment, it’ll be really cool.”
He’ll be riding along with us, there’s going to be stickers and his face is all over the pit area on race cars there. It’ll be exciting, it’ll be fun. I’ve anticipated this for quite a long time, it's been 21 years in the making. It’s all going to hit me once on Saturday.
Sanborn’s Super Late Model debut came in April at Hickory Motor Speedway during the twin Easter Bunny 150s. He finished 21st in the front end of the doubleheader, but he would be kept out of the second race after damage sustained late in the opener.
With that first start under his belt paired with years of experience at Beech Ridge, his confidence is high heading into his first start with Granite State.
“I think I’m definitely more confident for sure in not only my abilities, but to be aware of my surroundings inside of it. Mesh that with my experience at Beech Ridge already and I don’t think we’re going to suck by any means. Just like before, we need to be realistic with what we have just because of our limited resources and stuff like that. It’s a new car to us and the car is a bit of a one-off too. Just learning the bugs and quirks of it.”
With his goals for Saturday’s race in mind, he is keeping the day’s activities in perspective.
“If we win, I don’t know if we’ll ever race again. That would be cool to pull that off. Granite State coming to Beech Ridge has turned into quite the spectacle. Those guys all seem to want to win that race more compared to some of the others, I suppose.
“Beech Ridge is a very special place throughout the history of auto racing and their association with the NASCAR ranks. With their past with the Modifieds and growing Super Late Models as well as anybody else, it’s been cool to see them flourish with the Granite State Pro Stock Series and I’m just happy to be a very small part of it. If we do run well I’ll be ecstatic and elated, if not we still got to do it and be a part of the 30 on the racetrack instead of 3,000 on the racetrack.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Sandy Haley