WALKER, Mich. – Promising young Michigan racer Brandon Hermiller says he “can’t wait” to get back to the tight little 0.393-mile Auto City Speedway for Saturday night’s Auto City 100 JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour battle. The driver of the H.S. Die/VISI-TST Ford can’t help laughing when he thinks back on his “love-hate relationship” with the historical facility located in Clio, Mich.
“I honestly hated the track the first time we raced there,” Hermiller chuckled as he recalled his first visit to the track in 2012. “We were absolutely terrible that night. Turns 1 and 2 were just so tight. I thought, ‘man, this is about the craziest layout I had ever seen. There is no room to race down there. What fool is responsible for designing this?’ It was a pretty short learning curve for us.
“Now, if you fast-forward to today, I can sincerely say that it’s one of my favorite tracks of them all,” said the easygoing 21-year-old charger. “It was a situation where we adapted to it quickly and learned to drive it during that very first race. It’s not like any other track; it’s a monster of its own for sure.
“The biggest thing about racing there was learning to get our car handling well on the bottom of the track,” Hermiller said. “The key to success I feel is getting your car to handle coming off the corners and especially being able to work the traffic.”
Hermiller qualified ninth and finished 14th in the August 2012 JEGS race at Auto City. He came back last season and ran both JEGS and CRA Super Series races. He qualified third and finished 12th in the Silver Bullet 100 JEGS race last August.
The Aug. 16, 2013 Mid-Michigan Toyota Dealers 125 ARCA-CRA Super Series race remains in Hermiller’s mind as “a great finish that slipped away.” After running in the top-five the entire race, Hermiller was battling for second in the closing laps. He innocently locked up his brakes going into the corner and got into Cody Coughlin. That provoked quite a bit of physical activity between the two drivers during the ensuing laps. While Coughlin was allowed to finish the race, Hermiller was questionably parked with eight laps remaining.
“We still feel like it was the wrong call and always will, but that’s all behind us now,” said Hermiller. “You can’t dwell on the past and we’re only focusing on the future.
“I think we have made so much progress at Auto City since our first race there. With the competitive races we had on that track last season, it was like we placed a bull’s-eye on the calendar for this weekend entering the season. We are coming in there with a lot of confidence. We’ve been building a lot of momentum with our consistency and a lot of good finishes over the last couple of months.
“They already have more than 30 cars on the entry list, so it’s shaping up to be one of the best races of the year,” Hermiller said. “I think we can get back there, qualify well and run up front. With a little luck, I think we can win the race. We’re heading in there with such a positive attitude. We just have to get out there, do our best and get the job done.”
Hermiller’s No. 6 H.S. Die/VISI-TST Ford Fusion also carries sponsorship from River Hills Lodge, West End Body Shop, T.A.A.G. Tooling and Accessories Group, Stehouwer Frozen Foods and Beaver Research Company during the 2014 season.
This weekend’s action at Auto City Speedway kicks off with an open practice session on Friday scheduled from 3:00 p.m. till dusk. Saturday’s card sees pit gates opening at 1:30 p.m. and the JEGS drivers’ meeting at 3:15 p.m. JEGS practice is set to begin at 4:00 p.m. with qualifying slated for 6:15 p.m. Racing will begin at 7:30 p.m. with the local Pure Stock, Street Stock and Figure-8 divisions also in action.
Tickets for Saturday’s big night of racing are $20 for adults and $5 for children 6-10. As always at Auto City, kids 5 and under will be admitted free.
– TS Die Team Release
Photo Credit: Speed51.com