A group of the country’s top Super Late Model stars converged on Lucas Oil Raceway Friday afternoon for open practice in advance of Saturday’s inaugural Speed51 Super Select. At the end of the three-hour practice session, two drivers on the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of experience at the track led the way at the top of the speed chart.
North Carolina native Matt Craig had never seen the Brownsburg, Indiana facility before Friday’s practice session. However, it didn’t take the North Carolina driver long to get acclimated to the .686-mile oval, setting the fastest lap of the day with a lap of 21.158, a full tenth under the current ARCA/CRA Super Series track record of 21.284 set back in 2007 by Evan Jackson.
“Our car feels good, we were just on really hot tires so we put on fifteen, twenty lap tires,” Craig told Speed51.com. “They were cold so that helps a lot, and we ran a really good lap just to make sure we had good short run speed because we did a lot of things for long run and the car’s still really fast.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good shot tomorrow, I know there’s a lot of inverts and everything so you got to have a good car,” he continued. “You can’t just run out and hide, you really got to work for this one because you’ll have to come from the back pretty much.”
Michigan’s Brian Campbell came into the weekend arguably as the favorite on the heels of eight career victories at Lucas Oil Raceway. He posted a strong showing on Friday, setting the second-quickest lap of the day in the final minutes of open practice. Given how his team approached today’s session, he feels confident he can take home $10,000 back to the Wolverine State.
“We focused mainly on race runs on old tires, we never stuck new tires on it,” Campbell said. “That wasn’t even a full-on run, that was just put tires on the car so we don’t have to practice on old ones tomorrow. I’m pretty happy, we made gains all day and kept getting faster. We ended with the old tires, where we were really the most happy.”
Like many of the racers in the field, Campbell expects Saturday’s main event to be a close battle among some of the top short track racers in the country.
“I think you can throw a blanket over all of them from green to checkered,” he continued. “In qualifying, it’s going to be a roll of the dice where you end up and this is going to be a hell of a race.”
One of racing’s brightest young stars was a late addition to the Super Select field after finding out he was invited earlier this week. Quebec’s Raphael Lessard worked a deal with Donnie Wilson to drive one of his Rowdy Manufacturing cars in this weekend’s race.
“When I saw the invitation I texted Cody Glick and said, do you know a car that might be available?” he added. “He built this car at Rowdy Manufacturing and told me it was a great car and it was ready. So I put my insert and shook it down today and it was really good. Hopefully we can be a little bit better tomorrow and I’m sure it’s going to be a good show.”
Lessard ended the session fifth-fastest, giving him and Wilson Motorsports confidence after putting himself and teammate Casey Roderick both in the top five.
“I think this car is pretty good,” Lessard said. “We started on new tires and after the first run we saw everything was pretty good, our times were pretty good. Just focusing on race runs today and trying to make it better for the race. I think we’re going to try some stuff for tomorrow but not too far, we just need that little bit but I think we’re right there. It’s my first time with Wilson Motorsports so that’s going to be interesting and I’m sure it’s going to be great because today went pretty good.”
Speed51’s live broadcast of the Speed51 Super Select will begin with qualifying at 6:00 p.m. ET. That will lead into the 75-lap, winner-take-all main event at approximately 8:45 p.m. ET. Race fans can watch the race by becoming a monthly or yearly subscriber to the Speed51 Network. Click here to sign up today.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51.com