NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock teams will reportedly be allowed to utilize the new “Gen 6” Five Star Race Cars body starting in 2020, with an official announcement expected following the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway (VA) this weekend.
As always, a change in procedure presents divided opinions. Late Model Stock racers have varied opinions on the arrival of the new-look race car, which will be allowed as soon as marquee events this fall such as the Myrtle Beach 400 and the Thanksgiving Classic at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC) as initially reported by Race22.com.
C.E. Falk, III, the defending winner of the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, shared skepticism about the change during his appearance on Speed51’s “The Morning Bullring” Monday.
“I definitely think it’s a large wrench in the deal,” Falk said. “Being an AR (bodies) dealer myself, working with small teams, I’m not a Roger Johnson or a Jay Hedgecock or nothing. As an AR dealer, it’s a little concerning. It’s a great looking car. I think it’s taking more of a social media presence with non-racers than actual racers. I hadn’t thought about our cars needing a new body right now.
“Credit to Five Star and all those guys working over there for making a nice body. It’s a great product. I wish AR had a counter, just so it wasn’t such a one-trick component to have to buy from one person. I wish there were two offerings, but you can’t wish for everything.”
Others see the introduction of a new body as long overdue. Bradley McCaskill, the 2019 North Carolina NWAAS State Champion, is excited to see a new look for the cars.
“I think it’s cool,” McCaskill said. “I’m good with it. We’ve run the same bodies for 13, 14 years now, maybe? They used to change bodies up all the time, I don’t see a problem with it. It gives the fans something new and exciting to look at. I’m all for it.”
Former NWAAS National Champion Peyton Sellers echoed McCaskill’s sentiment.
“I think a body change in the Late Model Stock division is long overdue,” Sellers stated. “We’ve been going on the same body now for 12 years. The timing is fine as far as that goes.”
As one of the prominent names in Late Model Stock racing, Sellers sees the potential downside of going to the new body. For one, he already has taken notice of lower car counts in weekly divisions in light of recent changes to engine rules in the division.
“It’s a bit of a double-edged sword for me,” he admitted. “Presenting a new body just two years after the whole motor debacle with introducing the Harrington, the spec engine, eliminating the Chevy crate engine, it’s a lot of change that has softened the car counts in the past 12 months. Each local show has seen a decrease in car count, and I don’t think introducing a new body will increase car count.”
Whether or not there is a competitive advantage, Sellers fears perception could become reality if enough top-tier teams make the switch.
“Let’s face it, whether it’s an advantage, disadvantage, or no change at all, if Philip Morris, Peyton Sellers, Lee Pulliam show up with a new body, a guy who normally runs seventh or eighth at his local track thinks he’s at a disadvantage.”
McCaskill points to results from events such as the Pro All Stars Series, where the Gen 6 body was approved for competition in 2019, as evidence that the new body should be comparable in performance to the existing platform.
“I go back to the PASS race at Richmond or the race at New Hampshire where they had both bodies running together, and they were equal there. If everybody’s equal on a track ¾ of a mile or bigger, we shouldn’t be too worried on tracks a half-mile and smaller.”
Ultimately, Sellers hopes NASCAR and tracks put in the necessary work to ensure that level playing field translates to the Late Model Stock world.
“I want to see the right rules are in place to make it comparable to the old body. Why would the body manufacturers come out with a new body if it’s not as good? I hope they do their due diligence and make sure they are comparable, and make sure a guy on the old body isn’t behind.
“I’ve seen Five Star’s body and I hope AR can come up with something comparable. We need multiple body companies in this sport. Competition is a good thing. I want to see the small guys be able to compete with the new technology as well.”
Both Sellers and McCaskill believe a beneficiary of the change could be competitors in lower levels of Late Model competition in the region.
“Most guys are going to freshen up their car over the offseason anyways,” McCaskill said. “There are enough lower divisions, Charger divisions, stuff like that who would welcome the opportunity to buy a used body in decent shape. We wouldn’t have a problem getting rid of the older body on the car and going to the newer one.”
“Make it where new bodies aren’t allowed in the Limited Sportsman and we can sell our old bodies to those guys,” Sellers suggested. “Cycle them out so it doesn’t cost so much.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo