As the 2016 short track season begins to hit its stride, the most potent driver in Southeast Super Late Model racing might just be 20-year-old Brandon Setzer. Since August 2015, Setzer and his family-owned operation have accumulated four wins, led a number of laps and have started to gain the respect of the top competitors in the region.
Setzer showed consistency in his first career Super Late Model season in 2014, finishing fifth in the PASS South points. After shifting focus to the CARS Super Late Model Tour for 2015, the team hit pay dirt at Orange County Speedway (NC) on August 1 and finally got race-winning momentum on their side.
“It was huge to get the first win at Orange County, we got the car to handle good there,” said Setzer. “It kind of got the ball rolling which was a big deal. A few more followed and we had the car where it needed to be and had a lot of fun.”
Setzer and the No. 6 team finished off 2015 with another CARS Tour win at Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC) September 19. In addition, he also scored his first PASS South win during the season finale at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) November 21.
As he turned the page to a new calendar year, Setzer hoped to continue building off his momentum from the 2015 season. He’s done that in a way, but he’s done it while experiencing both fortunes and disappointments thus far in 2016.
After running in the top 10 for most of the day during CRA SpeedFest 2016 at Crisp Motorsports Park (GA), Setzer made hard contact with the frontstretch wall following contact with Ty Majeski while racing for the race lead. But following their tough luck in Georgia, the team was quick to regain winning momentum with Setzer taking victory during the team’s first PASS South outing of 2016 in the Carolina Clash 125 at Dillon Motor Speedway (SC).
“The season has been as good as I could have hoped for,” Setzer said cheerfully. “Other than the mishap at Speedfest, we’ve had a strong car at the races we did well at. I’m as happy as I can be at the track. If we’re continuing to contend for wins that’s always good for sure.”
Going forward into the heart of the 2016 racing season, Setzer and his small family team will be running a mixed batch of Super Late Model races that fall within the team’s budget. He said that going fast and winning races will be his primary objective moving forward.
“We’re just going to pick and choose some races. We are definitely going to run a good bit of the CARS races and PASS races, we might go to a few others here and there.”
While Setzer’s team doesn’t lack the technology or know-how to win races, they’re considered to be a “small team” compared to some teams that their up against. That is something that he embraces every time he can shows up to a race track.
“That’s been one of the fun parts. You come to the racetrack in a small trailer, you get to pull up beside Kyle Busch and all those other guys with big rigs,” remarked Setzer. “I think at Speedfest we might have been one of the only little trailers that ended up being pretty sporty. It’s definitely cool to be a small operation going head to head with the big guys and actually giving them a run for their money.”
Setzer will have his sights set on victory lane this weekend when he travels to Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) for the Easter Bunny 150. A win in that race would mean a guaranteed starting spot in the prestigious Oxford 250 and that’s something Setzer really has his eyes on.
Following the Easter Bunny 150, Setzer and his team will begin prepping for the CARS Tour season opener on April 2 at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, NC.
“I’m looking forward to Kenly. I think we have a good package for the CARS Tour and the Hoosier 45 tires, the car seemed to really like them. Kenly is always a fun track. It promotes a lot of good racing, and we’ve had some good runs there.”
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, LI, MA) – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com