After several years competing in the Late Model Stock world of the Mid-Atlantic region, Statesville, North Carolina driver Justin Crider is making the jump to Super Late Models.
Crider and his team had considered the move for several seasons and felt the time was right to take the leap in 2019.
“We really just wanted something different,” Crider told Speed51.com. “We had been in Late Models for six years. It just felt like the way Late Model Stock racing was going and the way we viewed Supers, that now was the right time to go and Supers would fit my driving style better. We ultimately just wanted to have a little more fun.
“For us, we’re a family deal, we do it mostly out of pocket,” Crider added. “We have some very helpful people who have helped us for a while. We don’t have any real big-time sponsors, a lot of it is out-of-pocket. We were planning on doing it anyways. We were just ready for a change.”
Crider’s transition comes at a time when, coincidentally, Super Late Model racing in the region is also going through changes. With the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Model series scaling back on southern dates and the formation of the Prestoria Racing Assocation (PRA) Tours’ Super Late Model division, it will be a different environment for Super Late Model racers.
Crider believes that the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) Response Energy Super Late Model Tour schedule, along with the new PRA Tours Super Late Models, will give him options that fit into his schedule.
“I think it gives us a lot of options,” Crider explained. “With the budget we had in Late Model Stocks, we weren’t running but one race a month anyways. With Supers, that’s about all they run in general. Maybe a few more with the PRA stuff coming about. It doesn’t change our schedule much.”
More importantly for Crider during his transition, both tours will visit tracks where he has raced many times in Late Model Stock competition. This is particularly true with the CARS Tour, where he has made 24 starts in the Late Model Stock division over the past four seasons and finished top-ten in points in both 2015 and 2016.
"It gives us some options of tracks I have experience on, which is a big help making the transition,” Crider said. “That’s why we’re looking at running the majority of the CARS Tour races and some of that PRA stuff. We’ve talked to them about rules and stuff, and we think that will be a pretty good fit to start, too.”
Crider will make his Super Late Model debut at one of those familiar tracks, Southern National Motorsports Park (NC). The CARS Super Late Model Tour season will begin at the 0.400-mile oval on March 9 with a $10,000-to-win event for Super Late Models.
“I know for a fact our first race is going to be the CARS Tour at Kenly, the season opener for $10,000 to win,” Crider said. “I like Kenly, I’ve ran good there.”
Crider is very thankful to Dickie Woodman and Woodman Racing for their assistance in this transition. Crider is using a former Woodman Racing car and has received a bounty of advice from Woodman as he prepares for the jump to Super Late Models.
“When we made this decision, we had just bought a wrecked car from Jake Crum,” Crider explained. “We were going to put it together over this past season and get ready to test this winter. That didn’t happen, so we were looking a closer-to-done car. We were going to go into this thing blind and learn as we go.
“We got really lucky hooking up with Dickie Woodman, who has helped us a lot,” Crider continued. “I feel like we’re starting out a lot closer than we would have on our own. I think the goal is going to be to learn each week. I think with the program we’re starting out with and the car we’re starting out with, we can start top-ten, as long as I do what I need to do and learn what I need to learn behind the wheel.
“I think we’ve got a real good chance to start out top-ten, grow from there, see what happens and have some fun doing it.
Crider tested the car for the first time last weekend at the historic Hickory Motor Speedway (NC), another venue where he has turned countless laps in Late Model Stock Cars. While Crider had to dodge some snowflakes throughout the test session, he came away with plenty of confidence in his piece.
“It’s a pretty big adjustment, but not as big as I was thinking,” Crider said. “We tested last Saturday, and it was snowing for a good part of it. We tested at Hickory, which is a good place for me, I’ve got thousands of laps there. I was expecting a huge difference, but when the track was dry, I felt right at home. I’ve got a few things I need to work on and get comfortable with, but I think if we can go to places where I have experience and rely on Dickie’s experience, we can start out close and it will be up to me to learn those subtle differences.”
Crider also believes Super Late Model racing will better suit his driving style than the Late Model Stock battles where he has cut his teeth over the past several seasons.
“The style of racing in Supers is a lot more paced than Late Model Stocks, and that will fit right in with how I like to drive,” said Crider. “I’m very methodical. I’ll be able to pick it up pretty quickly, it’s just a matter of relying on the right people to guide us along the way. I feel pretty good about it.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com