After being pushed back a month, Super Late Model teams hit the track at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville for All-American 400 practice on Friday. The Super Late Models and Pro Late Models had rotation practice sessions over the course of five hours to prepare for qualifying Saturday.
Steve Wallace held down quick time for the majority of practice, but in the end Chase Purdy went out on track with sticker tires and set the fastest time of the day in the last five minutes of the session with a lap time of 18.489 seconds. Purdy spent most of the practice on older tires before putting on fresh rubber for a mock qualifying run.
“We’ve been working on race trim all day and then we put on some stickers there at the end and went P1,” Purdy told Speed51.com. “We felt like the car was starting to drive like it should so we went ahead and put the stickers on it and see what we got. I made that call with about twenty to thirty minutes to go and our qualifying run was pretty good. I feel just as good about our qualifying run as our race run, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Purdy’s team had their share of struggles throughout the day while getting their car set up for race runs. But thanks to the help of two Late Model veterans on top of the pit box, they were able to fix the issues.
“We had a few brake problems earlier today and we got that fixed up, so hats off to my Anthony Campi guys and Chris Wimmer. They’ve been working hard all day today. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be working with both crew chiefs this weekend together, and they can combine all their knowledge and come up with what’s best, and that’s been a big help to me.”
Tyler Ankrum was another driver that showed speed throughout the day. The 2018 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion continued where he left off in March’s North/South Super Late Model Challenge and ended the day third quickest in practice.
“We have an awesome car,” Ankrum said. “It’s smooth as satin and soft as silk, so we have an awesome race car. We’ve been fast with race runs and mock runs, and I’m just happy with the car. We came here in the spring and had a clutch failure while we were running second that took us out of the race. Basing it off that, we still have the same speed in the car, so I’m ready for tomorrow and Sunday.”
Ankrum is coming off a top five finish in another extra distance race, the Winchester 400. His team brought the same car that led him to the top five finish at Winchester, as well as a win in the ARCA/CRA Super Series portion of the Glass City 200 in September.
“Four hundred laps is just a marathon and you get tires pretty much every one hundred laps. You can’t ride a lot but you can ride a little bit. We’re not sure what we’re going to do with strategy just yet because at Winchester you can only put on two tires every stop. We’re racing the same car that we raced with at Winchester and won with at Toledo so ol’ faithful is fast. I’m just excited about how we’re going to do Sunday.”
Steve Wallace was second fastest in practice with a 18.588, while Raphael Lessard and 2009 All-American 400 winner Johnny VanDoorn rounded out the top five. Defending All-American 400 winner Donnie Wilson was 6thfastest, while 2016 winner Bubba Pollard was 14th.
– Koty Guyer, IN / MI State Editor, Speed51.com