Friday’s practice session for CRA SpeedFest at Crisp Motorsports Park (GA) saw new faces in familiar places, with two substitute drivers filling in ahead of tomorrow’s 200-lap feature for the ARCA/CRA Super Series.
Brandon Setzer filled in for Kyle Busch during the open practice session in the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51, while Busch attended J.D. Gibbs’ memorial service in North Carolina. Busch returned to Georgia in time for “Happy Half-Hour” practice, where he clocked in fourth-fastest at 15.896 seconds around the 3/8ths-mile facility.
“He’ll be here for qualifying,” Setzer added. “He’ll do all the major adjustments and feeling things out. Making sure everything was scuffed in and ready to go tonight.”
Meanwhile, Scotty Tomasik climbed into Rich Bickle’s machine while he attended to business in Concord, North Carolina on Friday.
“Just filling in today,” Tomasik said. “Rich couldn’t make it today, he’s got some obligations to take care of. Tony and the guys with T1 Racing put together a car and said they needed a little bit of help.”
Bickle’s team didn’t take any big swings in practice, opting to leave the car close to how their primary driver left it after a private testing session Thursday.
“Right now, we’re not too bad. We’re not making any major changes right now. We’re just trying to keep the car where Rich had it when he tested yesterday. Just trying to make laps and learn a little bit so these guys have a better car for tomorrow.”
Casey Roderick set fast time during Friday’s practices for both Pro Late Models and Super Late Models. The Lawrenceville, Georgia driver is one of just a couple of drivers attempting double-duty this year at SpeedFest but showed plenty of strength for the weekend.
Roderick was particularly thrilled by the showing, considering the offseason had not gone as planned.
“Coming into this weekend, I wanted to do really well,” Roderick said. “We’ve been working hard at the shop to get prepared. I felt like coming to this race with the Super, I would have liked to have been a little bit more prepared. We didn’t get our motor back in time. That put us behind schedule on that race car.
“First laps on the track, it was really good,” Roderick added. “I got a lot of confidence in both of them.”
That confidence is exciting for Roderick, who said it had been some time since he felt so strongly about both his Pro and Super Late Model.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had that much confidence in my race cars and how they’re handling. We’ve run really well over the past couple of years, but we could always be better. I feel like we’re going to have a good weekend.”
It was not all smooth sailing during the open practice session on Friday morning. Pro Late Model competitor Daniel Dye went for an off-track excursion into the grass run-off area surrounding Crisp Motorsports Park.
The incident left Dye’s machine with some minor nose damage, but was otherwise unscathed.
“I guess I could say I ran out of talent,” Dye said following the ordeal. “I ran it too hard out of [turn] two. I was on a mock run there and I was really trying to get after it. I got after it a little too hard. Fortunately, we didn’t hurt anything inside the car.
“I’m glad that here there’s not a wall,” Dye added. “We’re not fixing everything on the right side of the car. It’s a lot better to do that here than anywhere else.”
Just a couple of hours later, Dye’s dismay was replaced with a wide smile. With the car repaired, Dye placed second and third, respectively, in the next two rounds of practice.
“I’m proud of that,” Dye said after his return to the track. “My team fixed it up pretty quick, and they got the car really good. We race-trimmed it and ran a 16.25 so I’m excited to get back out there and see what we can do.”
Bubba Pollard clocked in at 15.767 for fast time in the final “Happy Half-Hour” practice at 15.767 seconds, while Michael House was fastest for Pro Late Models at 16.177 seconds.
Fans unable to make the trip to Crisp Motorsports Park tonight and tomorrow can watch all of the action on Speed51. Friday’s Late Model time trial sessions, as well as features for the Wheel Man Series’ Sportsmen, the Southern Pro Trucks and Legends’ Last Chance Qualifier, are available for free to Premium Members of the Speed51 Network.
Saturday’s features for the ARCA/CRA Super Series and JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour will be available on a pay-per-view broadcast. Click here to order your video ticket now. The broadcasts are subject to a 100-mile blackout radius.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com