His plans for his own driving endeavors have expanded for the 2021 season, starting with the twin Easter Bunny 150s at Hickory Motor Speedway next weekend. His new schedule revolves around getting prepared for August’s Oxford 250, having bought a Super Late Model from former Northeast star Reid Lanpher.
“I guess it really has been a year and a half. I’m really excited, it’s crazy that I’ve got to go almost a thousand miles away to be able to race again but I acquired a really good car last year off of Reid Lanpher and his family,” Kneeland told Speed51. “It’s a car that he previously finished second and third in the Oxford 250 with. That’s why I wanted to get another car, I don’t feel like my time is done yet with running the Oxford 250 and long story short, we’re trying to get it ready for as many races as possible for when my NASCAR stuff isn’t in play, I can run as many races as possible before we run the 250 in August.”
Along with the Easter Bunny 150s and the Oxford 250, Kneeland will also return to his home track at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway for the first time since he ran a PASS North/Modified doubleheader there in 2018. He has also enlisted the help of cousin and fellow racer Rusty Poland for the season.
“We’ll do both Easter Bunny 150s. It’s cool that it’s a makeup race, it stinks that they weren’t able to do that race and a lot of races last year with COVID and stuff, but I’m excited to do the doubleheader there. Schedule-wise with the NASCAR stuff, the next one I think is July 24 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway as of right now. That’s a weekly race but anytime I get to go back home then I always try to fill one there if we can. The very next week we’ll run the Oxford 250 100-lap qualifying race. Then August 29 we’ll attempt to run the Oxford 250.
“My cousin Rusty Poland, he’s actually going to serve as my crew chief for all the races except the Beech Ridge one just because we’ll be racing against each other. He’ll be practicing my car on Saturday at the Oxford 250 since I’ll be in Daytona.”
Kneeland has one previous Easter Bunny 150 attempt to his credit, and it was a weekend he would like to forget. If there was something that could’ve gone wrong for he and his team that weekend, it more than likely did. He ultimately didn’t make the field for the 150-lap race that year, opting to cut their losses and focus on their next race.
“There’s not a lot of good to remember from that. I love the track, it’s old, it’s rough, it’s wore out but it’s a lot of fun. It’s got banking, it’s got one tighter corner than the other, there’s a lot of neat characteristics. It didn’t go well for us, I think it was the third lap on track we had a clutch issue and we had a heck of a time finding a clutch to get switched out to get some practice in. Unfortunately, we missed all day of practice getting a clutch in so we basically went straight into time trials the next day and didn’t time trial that well. We had to go into the Consi race and that became a wreckfest a little bit. I had just got done finishing putting that car together so it wasn’t really worth it to put my car in harm.”
He has looked to a trio of drivers from both the North Carolina area and from Maine for any additional help heading into next weekend’s races.
“I’ve been doing a lot of talking to Wyatt Alexander and Josh Berry and Coleman Pressley (No.2 NASCAR Cup Series Spotter) just getting information for Hickory because those three have run really well there in the past. I’m hoping my inexperience from there will be quickly changed from getting the information from them that will hopefully help us be where we need to be.”
With the Oxford 250 on his mind, his goal for both Easter Bunny 150 races are just to complete all 300 laps and learn as much about the new car as possible.
“I have a pretty reasonable goal, which is to run all the laps and finish the races. I’d love to say a top-ten or something like that but honestly, for me it’s just about getting as much seat time as possible for the Oxford 250. After having made that race back in 2013 or 14 and running third or fourth for a good portion of that race and finishing 15th, I feel like if we can get the car comfortable for me then I know we can be highly competitive in the Oxford 250.”
Both Easter Bunny 150s will be broadcasted live on Speed51.TV during the April 2-3 weekend, with single-day and weekend passes available to purchase. Click here for more information.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: @SpotterDerek Twitter