Derek Griffith has been well-known in Super Late Model circles, particularly in the Northeast, for several years now. With an incredible run during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing this year, though, he has accomplished greater acclaim.
The New Hampshire driver capped off the nine nights of racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) with a fourth-place finish in the Orange Blossom 100 to secure the Super Late Model World Series championship.
Before that, Griffith enjoyed a trip to victory lane and four runner-up finishes in his Super Late Model. That, along with a second-place run in his ARCA Menards Series East debut on Monday, has left many clamoring to see more of him in action.
From shout-outs on social media to New Smyrna champion Brad May using his time during a victory lane interview on Thursday to encourage prospective owners to field Griffith in an ARCA car at Five Flags Speedway on March 14, it was Griffith’s week in the spotlight.
Even after the week had ended, Griffith couldn’t wrap his head around how it had all transpired.
“It’s unbelievable,” Griffith told Speed51. “It’s not so much that we’ve slid under the radar. We’ve just never really had a breakthrough season starter down here. Sure, we won the Orange Blossom last year, and we almost won the race at the beginning of the week, but we’ve never had that consistent runs.
“When you come down here, race against KBM, Bubba and Nasse, Jett Motorsports, you have a consistent week with those guys around? That’s huge. That’s night and day.”
The week also helped exorcise demons at the Florida half-mile. The track had long been an Achilles’ heel for Griffith. Winning last year’s Orange Blossom helped with that, but this year Griffith was able to put together a strong week of racing.
It also earned him a spot on the list of Super Late Model Champions in the event, alongside one of the main men involved in his current racing efforts.
“We’ve been coming down here since 2013. We’ve never really had strong runs like that all week. I finally got to put myself on a list with Louie Mechalides, which is cool. He’s my crew chief and he won down here in 2005.
“The best Speedweeks I’ve had, for sure. It probably will be a career highlight of mine, this whole week.
“It was probably one of my worst tracks as of two years ago. It was definitely one of my worst in terms of average finish. To get a real consistent week out of it, with five second-place finishes, a first, a seventh and a fourth.
While Griffith can’t say whether or not he can make plans for that ARCA race in March despite the pleadings of social media and Brad May, he has already penciled in some big Super Late Model races he hopes to add to the win list in 2020.
“We’ve got the Rattler on the schedule. I don’t know if we’ll run it, but it’s there. We’ve got Hickory with PASS and Loudon with PASS coming up. Those are some big races for us.
“Hickory owes us one. It’s a track we’ve been so good at and seems to elude us every time or beat us up when we’re there. I’m looking forward to going to Hickory, for sure and seeing how it goes.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51