When Tyler Church pulled into Dillon Motor Speedway (SC) one year ago for the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) South opener he was racing on borrowed money. Church had left home to seek employment and that move left him with very little money to race Super Late Models. With their backs up against a wall heading into the South Carolina Clash at Dillon Motor Speedway, his father Steve borrowed money against his home in order to get the No. 7 machine to the race track.
“It was a situation where we needed to win to ensure we could run the next race,” said Church. “We knew we had to pay the money back and it was enough to keep us going for a while.”
Church won that day and it kept him in the seat for a few more starts in 2015, but his new job at Hendrick Motorsports took up most of his time. He used that time to begin building a budget that would enable him to race more this upcoming season.
“I am very blessed to to be where I am right now,” said Church. “We have plans to run what we can. We always want to have money so we can race more. We will just have to be lucky to keep making it to the track each week.”
A full schedule is not out of the equation for for Church who would be looking to be the first two-time PASS South champion after he took the honors in 2014. There are 14 more shows this season which could see the No. 7 car in the pit area if the momentum carries over from week to week.
“A win is a win,” said Church. “I qualified on the pole last fall at Hickory and I was emotional about it. You never know, but one of them some day is going to be your last.”
Church has four win in PASS South. Number five could be coming this weekend in a fashion similar to last year. He and his father Steve are not in the same boat as last year, but they are still in the water racing and that’s all that matters.
“It was easier when I was younger and living at home for us to have a successful race team,” added Church. “I ran a Late Model Stock last year and blew a tire and had to clip a car for the first time in years. We just race and take care of the equipment.”
Even if Church does not run the full schedule you can expect to see him locally at track like Concord and his personal favorite Hickory.
“We have finished second there a bunch of times in a row,” said the Hickory native. “We always seem to run well there and we’ve won there before and we want to do it again.”
Church has been second in each of the last four PASS races at Hickory. If he can get a good run a Dillon and Concord he could be a title contender come Hickory.
Church led only 24 laps a year ago at Dillon, but he led the most important one. That alone kept the team going in the right direction after taking a big gamble to be there. This time around he’s in a much better position and won’t be needing borrowed money to have a shot at visiting victory lane.
-By Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent – Twitter: @ElginTraylor