Ever since Tim Russell entered the driver development game he’s experienced frequent success. Drivers like Joey Mucciacciaro, Devin McCleod, and even NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year Kyle Larson have gone to victory lane driving for Russell’s TRI Driver Development program. Now Russell heads to his home race track of New Smyrna Speedway (FL) with Tyler Thomas and Sheldon Creed in tow.
Creed is a champion in off road truck racing in California, where he hails from. Now he’s moving to stock cars. He ran six races at the World Series of Asphalt Racing last year scoring one top five in the Pro Late Model class. Russell expects a good performance out of him this year.
“Sheldon ran Speedweeks with us last year,” Russell told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We’re going back again for Speedweeks this year. Hopefully we can get some good, solid runs with him during Speedweeks here and build on some more stuff.”
Russell brought the 18-year-old Thomas into the fold last season for seven races. Thomas ran incredibly well for Russell in those races too. Thomas finished second four times, including the last three races he ran with Russell in 2014.
Russell expects both drivers to run well in their races, but he knows that anything can happen throughout the week at New Smyrna.
“I’m really looking forward to the potential that both of these kids have,” Russell said. “Hopefully we can get through the first few nights and be someone near the front if not battling for the wins. We’ll just see how the week plays out. Basically for them it’s just getting the experience and racing back to back every night.”
One of the reasons Russell’s development program is so strong is because he’s very hands-on. And he also has a team that’s very dedicated to winning.
“They want to win so bad,” Russell said of his team. “It doesn’t matter if I’m in the car or if someone else is in the car. I was actually out here testing the two backup cars today to make sure everything is good for them.”
While Russell hopes that Creed and Thomas can pull into victory lane at least once, that isn’t the ultimate goal for his team at New Smyrna Speedway. His goal is one that should be easily achievable.
“If we have fun every night, the cars are in one piece, we have solid runs and are in contention for the win (I’ll be happy),” said Russell. “But as long as everybody has fun.”
The 49th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing begins on February 13 and continues until February 21. Major Tour-Type Modified events during the week include the John Blewett III Memorial 76 on Wednesday, February 18 and the Richie Evans Memorial 100 on Friday, February 20.
For more information and a full schedule of events, visit www.newsmyrnaspeedway.org.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo