Runner-up stories in racing are usually ones of heartbreak after coming so close but being so far. But the story of Andy Seuss’ runner-up finish last April at Talladega Superspeedway in the ARCA Racing Series 200-mile event, was one that captivated the short track world, especially those that come from the Modified roots that Seuss and the No. 02 Our Motorsports team grew from.
Seuss, who hails from New Hampshire, has much experience racing Modifieds in the Southeast, came together with the Chris Our operation to become a small-team effort out of a boat garage in North Carolina. In just their third start in a restrictor plate race, they had shown they could run with the big dogs. Now with the 2018 ARCA season-opening Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona International Speedway just days away, Seuss and Our Motorsports look to be contenders once again.
In order to be contenders again, it has demanded much attention since the beginning of winter, and Seuss would not have it any other way.
“It's a lot. One thing I've learned from short track racing, it's not just on a bigger stage, it's a lot more work, a lot more attention to detail, there's a lot more going on, there's always something to do, there's always something to do better. It's just a little more professional level, because we are trying to do it as a small team, it just takes a lot of time. The last two months of my life this has pretty much been it. But it's been nice, I don't have to worry about reading politics and pay attention to any stuff like that because there's no time for it.”
The big change for the No. 02 in 2018 will be the running of the composite body which the team did not run at the restrictor plate races in 2017, but did at Kansas Speedway to end the year. Though the team is new to the composite game for plate racing, Seuss believes that it will improve their chances for victory.
“It's a big thing which really works in the hand for a team like us because technically everybody has the same body. That's really going to play into our hands, we're excited about that. Obviously there's still a lot of secrets here and there that people have been doing it for years and years and big super teams will have over us. But this will get us a lot closer to that playing field, even though we've done pretty well with it in the past.”
In between all the toil in the shop, the team did make the January test at Daytona. In the end, it only spurred on Seuss’ belief that they have a real chance at coming back north with a trophy.
“It went very well. Obviously I'm always optimistic and excited. But I was pleasantly surprised, we unloaded the car, it was fairly quick, we made some good gains, and when we went out to draft it was fast. I'm more optimistic than I usually am, but you don't count your chickens before they hatch, and that's why we come back and keep working. You can't stop working, everybody's working to get better, but the work we did put in for the test, I was very pleased, so hopefully that carries over to the race.”
Seuss is also well aware of what the Talladega runner-up did for himself and all of short track racing and he heads to Speedweeks with it very much in mind.
“That was a pretty awesome time in my life, after that. There was a ton of people that congratulated me and reached out. As a racer you want to win and when you come in second, you go, ‘Man I was that close to winning and I should not be excited about not winning.’ But if I mentioned that to anybody they about slapped me around and said, ‘Do you know what you accomplished? Do you know the confidence that you gave other people in short track racing that they could do the same?’ So that was really neat.”
While a win is always an option at a restrictor plate track like Daytona, so many boxes have to be checked off. Despite being on the small side, Seuss believes that the Chris Our team will have them all checked when the green flag flies on Saturday.
“Anything is possible. Restrictor plate racing definitely leaves a big question mark. But I would say we are more prepared than we've ever been and every time you get to go back you learn a little bit more. I'm very optimistic with what we can do as the little guy. We got a great crew of very dedicated people taking the time off to be in the shop and to make sure the details are covered.”
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor - Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: DOS/Matt Dillner