For the fifth time in his career, Derek Griffith is making the 1,259-mile trip from Hudson, New Hampshire to New Smyrna Beach, Florida to escape the snowy north for some sandy beaches and seven nights of racing at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
For four years, Griffith’s luck has been poor at best, but he’s hoping the fifth time is the charm.
“For some reason when we go down there we get torn up pretty early,” Griffith told Speed51.com. “The plan is to take it day-by-day and hopefully we can make it through the whole week. The years in the past I haven’t (been able) to do so. We’d like to make it through the whole week and you know get a good solid finish in the points.”
Seven races in nine nights can be a challenge for any race team. As a result, there can be different strategies taken by different teams as they seek their own personal success. For the 20-year-old driver, wins are a priority, but they won’t be the only yardstick for measuring success.
“Last year we were alright,” Griffith said. “We were decent. I had a few top-10 runs but nothing like that was like, ‘Wow, it was a good day.’ Just to finish up the week strong, and have some good runs and come home in one piece we’d be happy with.”
In 2017, Griffith and his team struggled, scoring just two top-10 finishes. Their week ended with a crash 22 laps into the 100-lap finale at the World Series. Coincidentally, Griffith felt as though that race was going to be their best race of the week.
“Our best day was the 100-lapper near the end of the week. I started 12th or 13th and I made it up to fourth but I actually ended up getting wrecked. So, our best night was taken away from us.”
While Griffith acknowledged that the fast half-mile New Smyrna Speedway has been a challenge for he and his team in the past, he said he’s not letting that discourage him this year. He still believes he can get a strong finish in the championship standings and even compete for a win.
“This place is my kryptonite, almost,” he said. “We can run (well) anywhere else. It’s like here just seems to plague me. This year I definitely want to win one. I’d just like to win one.”
One change that Griffith’s team has made has been in the brakes department. The 2018 #TeamPFC driver said he believes that will help his team be stronger and finish better during the week.
“We ran the Red Eye a few weeks ago and we had a really good run. That race was the first race this car finished. I was really happy with it, so we’re just going to work on that and make sure we can get that thing going good. We’re getting some PFC brakes swapped on it and going to work on it early.”
The 2018 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing gets underway on Friday, February 9. Speed51.com will have live Trackside Now coverage and more from every day of racing at New Smyrna Speedway.
-By Kendra Adams, Speed51.com Southeast Contributor – Twitter: @Kendra2Adams
-Photo credit: Speed51.com