Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup regular Mike Nelson has confirmed he will return to fulltime competition with the cross-province tour in 2015.
The former Mini Stock standout enjoyed a career best year with the LOSC in 2014, logging 3 top-5s and 7 top-10s en route to a 7th place finish in the championship standings.
“We’ve gotten better every year since we first brought this car home,” says Nelson. “Going out on the road and racing against drivers of this caliber is a lot different than what we were used to doing at the weekly level.
“It has taken some getting used to, but right now I feel as though we’re in a position to really make a name for ourselves in 2015.”
Nelson has spent the entirety of the off-season redesigning his team’s lone chassis, with hopes of injecting his Nelson Racing outfit into the championship conversation in 2015.
“I’m very interested to see how these adjustments will translate to our on-track performance this Summer,” explains Nelson. “We were ready for a change, but weren’t looking to say goodbye to this car.
“Changing the front clip gives us the best of both worlds,” continues Nelson. ” When we first bought this car, I had no idea what I was doing when it came to chassis setup. Over the last two seasons, I’ve found myself being far more hands-on at the speedway and back at the shop. I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by some incredibly talented people, and the knowledge I’ve been able to pick up is staggering.”
After finding his No. 85 at the front of the field on a number of occasions last summer, Nelson feels the time is now for the team to break through for their first career tour victory.
“We’ve paid our dues,” says Nelson, flatly. ” We’ve logged a lot of miles on the road and a lot of laps on the track. We’re a long way from our rookie season, and I think we have a package that’s capable of competing with the heavyweights on this tour.”
For Nelson, much of the teams progress in the last year has been thanks to Peterborough veteran – and family friend – John Baker Jr. The multi-time champion has played the role of mentor for the rising star, and Nelson says the relationship paid dividends almost immediately.
“John helped change my whole outlook on how a program is supposed to run. We work harder and smarter in the shop now, and find ourselves more prepared when the car rolls off the trailer.
“The Baker family has been around for as long as I’ve been going to the speedway, so to have John at the shop every week is an honor for us,” continues Nelson.
When asked his strategy entering the 2015 campaign, Nelson insists the team’s game plan remains the same.
“We’re looking to put together a complete season of consistent finishes. I want to get our first win more than anything, but more importantly, I want to be racing for a championship by the time September rolls around.
“Last year, we had a couple rough outings take us out of the points,” explains Nelson. “I’m ready to do whatever’s necessary to keep that from happening again.”
-By Spencer Lewis, Speed51.com Correspondent – Twitter: @itsspencerlewis
-Photo credit: Debbie-Jo Zardo