THOMPSON, Conn. – Ryan Morgan is dedicated to finding his way to championship form.
Last year, Morgan won three times in Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s Late Model division, but a few finishes outside the top-five forced him to come up short in his bid for his first career racing championship.
This year, he’s hoping his experience in the Late Model division, and his new ride in the Limited Sportsman, will put him in a position to finally seal the title.
“I had a couple of years where it wasn’t so good, but it can take a couple of years of bad luck to get you going. Comparing notes and keeping everything in the back of your mind helps,” Morgan said. “Preparation is key for the Late Models. You have to get the travels on the car right, and a lot of it is garage time. A lot of the guys at the front of the pack will tell you that you win a race from the garage. If you hit it right, you probably are going to have a good day at the race track.”
Even though he did finish fifth in the championship standings last year, Morgan showed some of the best speed of his career driving the No. 31, and the three victories certainly helped increase his confidence.
When he unloaded this season, the car had similar speed during practice, but during the Icebreaker, Morgan struggled, having to start outside the top 10, and eventually coming home with an eighth-place finish. Late Model teams were thrown for a little bit of a wrench when their race was placed after the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Icebreaker 150, forcing teams to adjust on the fly due to the Hoosier rubber the Modifieds put on the track.
For Morgan, it was about finding a lane no one else was running, something he feels like he normally does anyway.
“A lot of it is the preparation, but I try to be somewhere where everyone else isn’t. I really run this ultimate outside lane at Thompson and it tends to help me on the restarts, but, after we get strung out, it doesn’t do much for me it feels like,” Morgan said. “The key to Thompson is being where everyone else isn’t, and having the track position. Usually, I find that if you start somewhere up front you are going to have a good day. We struggle every single time the Whelen Modified Tour is there, we lose the drive off the corner and to be honest, we still haven’t figured it out yet. We’ve been to multiple test sessions and the track just seems to be so greasy for me. The warmup we had before the Icebreaker, it actually helped us a lot. We were hitting the track really bad, so we raised the car and tightened the car up. We were coming on at the end, but I just got in the group and I had no where to go.”
Morgan’s experience in the Late Models is helping him in a new venture this year, behind the wheel of a Limited Sportsman. He’s run Legends Cars before and even SK Modifieds, but the experience in the Sportsman was like nothing else he has ever done.
“The car owner, he bought the car over the winter and we weren’t really sure if we were going to even race it. We decided to go to the Icebreaker with two cars and see how we made out. We are just playing it race-by-race with that,” Morgan said. “It’s really just a totally different animal. You can manhandle the cars a lot more than the Late Model. I was just going out there and getting used to the car, because you have to drive totally different.”
Right now, the plan is for Morgan to run both cars full-time for the remainder of the season. As long as everything goes according to plan, Morgan will find himself running two extra distance races the next time the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series hits the track.
Thompson officials announced on Wednesday that the Late Models would run 40 laps on Sunday, May 19. It joins a day already filled with a 30-lap extra distance Limited Sportsman feature, action for the Mini Stocks, SK Light Modifieds® and Sunoco Modifieds, along with the debut of the Lock City Drift Street Series.
“The Late Model, I’m more of a long distance racer, for some reason I tend to get better as the race goes on. I like to let it play out,” Morgan said. “I believe the extra laps will help us. I really don’t like to rush at the beginning of the race. In the Sportsman, I’m not really sure what to expect. At the Icebreaker, I felt like the handling got a little bit worse as the run went on, and I think a lot of the guys dealt with that. I will take as many laps as I can in the Sportsman, so hopefully I can be up front battling with those guys before long this season.”
Morgan’s overall goal this season is to win a championship.
“That’s one thing I have always wanted to do, we have been around the block a time or two and a championship would be great, I’ve never won one before,” Morgan said. “I’ve never quite been able to get there. I won a couple of races last year, but a championship would really put the icing on the cake for me.”
Morgan and the remainder of the Late Model and Limited Sportsman competitors have about three weeks to finish their preparation before they go extra distance. With the fourth annual Limited Sportsman extra distance event on tap, adding a 40-lap Late Model special will only provide fans even more incentive to make sure they don’t miss the special event.
For more information on Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, visit www.thompsonspeedway.com, and follow the track on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
-Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Press Release & Photo