Super Late Model teams get a season’s worth of racing within the span of nine nights at New Smyrna Speedway. However, when things go wrong during the week, those teams have just the overnight hours to complete repairs instead of weeks until the next race.
An attrition-filled opening night for this year’s World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing had several teams scrambling to make repairs overnight Friday night and early Saturday morning.
Jake Finch started on the front row for Friday’s Super Late Model feature but was part of the largest incident of the night. On a lap three restart, Finch and several other cars were collected in a multi-car incident coming to the green flag.
Fortunately for Finch, he and the Phoenix Racing team had a backup car on-site, which they are utilizing on Saturday.
“We had a backup car ready. It was already prepared at the shop. We shook it down Thursday on practice day, and I was pretty happy with it so we put it in the box. Unfortunately, we had to pull it out today. It has a different motor, so we’re adjusting to that but I think we’ll be fine.”
Other teams instead scrambled to make repairs for Saturday’s racing. Veteran Late Model racer Dan Fredrickson received parts and assistance from several of his cohorts from the Midwest in order to get back on track in time for Saturday’s practice sessions after being involved in Friday’s multi-car incident.
“We basically tore it apart last night,” Fredrickson told Speed51. “We went around, got a couple of parts from guys, mainly [Anthony] Campi and [Chris] Wimmer helped me out with some parts. Everybody from the Midwest helped me tear it apart, and we started putting it together last night.
“We came back early this morning, me and my guys finished putting it together. I think it should be pretty close here. Thanks to the guys who helped me out with spare parts. Jeremy Miller’s team and Steve Schultz’s team helped me out a bunch, along with Nick Panitzke’s team.”
While Derek Griffith scored a third-place finish on opening night, it did not come without his own dustups, including contact on a late restart. Griffith and his team effected repairs and rebounded to post the fast time in Saturday’s final practice session.
“We had a good race car last night, we just got tore up,” said Griffith. “We made a small change and picked up quite a bit of speed. Hopefully we can go out there, qualify better than we have, and we’ll see what we’ve got.”
West coast young gun Jesse Love was working his way through the field early in Friday’s 35-lap feature before an engine issue sidelined him after 28 laps.
“Last night, we started eighth and got to fifth,“ said Love. “Probably about lap eight, we dropped a valve in the motor. We tried to run it as long as we could for points, but it eventually laid over and we had to pull in.
“We changed motors for tonight. It’s pretty much the same motor, not much different, we just had to go across the scales a few times to make sure everything is how we want it. It’s doing pretty well so far.”
Late Model Stock Car standout Peyton Sellers is at the World Series with Jamie Yelton’s Fathead Racing in a rare Super Late Model role for the week, but opted out of Friday’s opener.
“It’s a brand-new race car,” said Sellers. “We only got three practices on Thursday, three 20-minute practices. By the time we got the travels right and everything clearanced, fixed an oil leak here and there.
“Yesterday, we had a couple of decent practices, but we weren’t where we needed to be on speed. We’re here for four nights, so we decided we’d be better off letting them work all the bugs out, focus on the second night and go from there.”
Sellers is confident the team will find speed throughout the week with enough hard work and preparation.
“We’ve got to get the car working better, for sure. Jamie Yelton is working hard on it. He’s putting everything he’s got into this car. We’re going to figure out, there’s too much determination over there to not get it figured out.”
Sellers also believes forgoing Friday’s race may have been a blessing in disguise.
“I was sitting up there on the trailer, and said, ‘We made the right decision, boys.’ The stuff that happened last night may happen again tonight, but at the end of the day, we dodged a few bullets last night and they tore up a lot of good cars.”
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-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo