The SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series is headed to Sin City this weekend. The popular West Coast Super Late Model touring series will make a stop at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV) on Saturday for the $10,000-to-win “Retro Custom Metals 150.”
Many drivers love to make the trek to Las Vegas for this annual event, but some enjoy the trip more than others. One of those drivers is 2013 and 2014 SRL championship runner-up Jeremy Doss. Doss has found more than his fair share of success at the 3/8-mile, D-shaped oval, and he hopes for that success to continue this weekend.
Doss has spent the last three seasons racing at various venues and in various series. He claimed the 2016 Pacific Challenge Series (PCS) championship, winning three races that season. Doss captured the 2016 Montana 200 at Montana Raceway Park (MT), scored a victory at Madera Speedway (CA) in the Pro Late Model Division and secured multiple top-five finishes in the Northwest, including the Spud 150 at Magic Valley Speedway (ID), Leonard Evans 200 at Wenatchee Valley Speedway (WA) and again in the Montana 200, to name a few. Doss also finished third in the 2016 Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway (CA).
But through the middle of the 2017 season, Doss had failed to win at a rate at which he was accustomed. It was at that point the JM Motorsports Team made a change, under the guidance of team owner and father Mike Doss. In September of 2017, the JD Motorsports Team brought home two new Senneker Chassis cars for Jeremy and teammate Jeff Bischofberger. It was a move that turned their fortunes around.
“Racing is a sport that evolves very quickly, so you must evolve with it or you will get left behind,” Doss told Speed51.com. “We were having some rough luck at the beginning of last season and it definitely seemed like once we fully committed to the Senneker chassis, our luck turned around. I really can’t thank Terry Senneker enough for all his help and support.”
The cars were immediately fast, with Doss scoring two Super Late Model wins at The Bullring right out of the gate. He followed those wins up with a runner-up finish at the $15,000-to-win Senator’s Cup Fall Classic 150, also at the Bullring. He then closed out the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series schedule with another Bullring win, passing four-time champion Derek Thorn late in the event.
Next, Doss took the car to the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL to try his luck. Doss qualified fifth and was running fifth late in the event when the rear end broke, dropping the 21-year-old driver to 13th in the final results. Although the final result didn’t indicate their strength, it did give the team optimism leading into his championship attempt with the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series in 2018.
Through the first two events of the championship season, Doss finds himself in a three-way tie for fifth in the standings. He started strong, with a last-lap pass of Derek Thorn that resulted in a win at Madera Speedway. But a 21st-place effort at Kern County Raceway, due to an electrical issue, slowed his pace. Still, however, the Upper Lake, CA driver remains focused on his first SRL championship against a field that is full of champions and championship caliber drivers.
“I think the first two races show exactly why we decided to compete with the SRL this year,” Doss explained. “Not only were there 28 and 30 cars at each of the events, they were extremely competitive fields.”
Doss has also noticed some changes since he last competed full-time with the series.
“There has definitely been some change since 2014,” Doss described. “Everyone I raced with back in 2013 and 2014 has stepped their game up big-time. Then you have guys like Ricky Schlick and Buddy Shepherd, who are relatively new to the series, which just add to the quality of the competition.”
After his 21st-place finish at Kern County Raceway, Doss is heading to the perfect track to advance his championship cause. The Bullring is a track that Doss calls his favorite. It’s a track that has bred success for the 2013 SRL Rookie of the Year and two-time series victor at the track.
“The Bullring just really fits my driving style, and of course it always helps to have a good car,” Doss said. “My dad, (Crew Chief) Mike Doss, has really got the setup down for that place.”
In regards to the championship, Doss doesn’t feel the unfortunate finish at Kern County Raceway will change his approach. Racing for $10,000 doesn’t change the plan either.
“I don’t think my strategy really changes at all. Even though I’m running for the championship, my goal is to win every race. I want to win every race. The $10K just makes me want to win that much more.”
Doss enters this weekend with five Super Late Model victories at the Bullring since 2014. Three of those wins were in 2017. Doss knows what it takes to win in Las Vegas, and will implement that strategy, with help from his spotter, in order to bring home win number six.
“Patience will be the key without a doubt,” Doss began. “The race is 150 laps, which is 25 more than we normally run at Vegas. You definitely don’t want to burn your stuff up too early in the race, so having a good spotter to make sure you stay patient and take care of your equipment is also key. Luckily for me, I have the best spotter in the business in Derek Copeland.”
Copeland will be busy this weekend, as 30 cars have pre-entered the third championship event of the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series season. The 30 cars would be an SRL record for the spring race at The Bullring. The field includes six former Super Late Model touring series champions (Craig Raudman, Eric Schmidt, John Dillon, Jacob Gomes, John Moore and Jeremy Doss) and five Rookie of the Year victors (Jacob Gomes, Jack Wood, Cole Moore, Ricky Schlick and Doss). Two drivers will attempt to make their first career SRL starts, while nine drivers look to make their first starts of the 2018 season. Six states are represented in the field (California, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Virginia and Texas).
Although 18 of the top 20 in the championship standings are entered for this weekend’s event, there will be a big shake-up at the top of the standings. Four-time SRL champion and current point leader Derek Thorn will miss his first series event since 2015. Thorn will be a part-time competitor in 2018, while chasing his second NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Championship. This leaves the championship chase wide open, with a plethora of championship hopefuls.
Leading the charge behind Thorn is Doss’ JD Motorsports Teammate and 2015 SRL winner Jeff Bischofberger. Rookie of the Year leader Buddy Shepherd sits third, followed by SRL veteran and two-time Pacific Challenge Series winner Carlos Vieira. Doss sits tied for fifth with 2015 Pacific Challenge Series champion and current PCS point leader John Moore, as well as 2017 SRL Rookie of the Year Ricky Schlick. 2015 Pacific Challenge Series Rookie of the Year Cole Moore, two-time SRL Legends Series Champion Cake Kanke and 2016 SRL winner Dan Holtz round out the top 10.
If Doss can secure his first SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series championship, he will certainly see his draft stock rise for the 2019 Speed51.com Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes. Doss was recently named the 10th best racing prospect in America in the 2018 Short Track Draft and was pleased to be included in this year’s top ten. It was an accumulation of hard work for the Earnest Performance, JD Motorsports, Senneker Performance and PFC Brakes Team.
“It’s a real honor to have been selected in the top ten of the Speed51.com Short Track Draft,” Doss commented. “It definitely feels very rewarding, having worked so hard these past few years.”
A big step for his championship bid would be a win at this weekend’s $10,000-to-win “Retro Custom Metals 150.”
Spectator gates open for the May 5th event at 5:00 p.m. PST. Qualifying for the Jr. Late Models, Bandoleros, Super Stocks, Lucas Oil Modifieds, Legends and the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series will follow immediately. Opening Ceremonies are scheduled for 6:45 p.m. with the Lucas Oil Modified B-Dash followed by the Bandolero Features. The SRL Last Chance Qualifier is up next, with the features for the Jr. Late Models and Super Stocks following. The 150-lap SPEARS Southwest Tour Series feature is next, with the Legends Main Event and the Lucas Oil Modifieds Feature closing out the evening’s festivities.
-By Kevin Peters, Speed51.com Southwest Editor
-Photo credit: Speed51.com