This year, McLeod joined forces with 2019 Snowball Derby champion Travis Braden to form B.J. McLeod Motorsports with Travis Braden, reinvigorating McLeod’s short track aspirations. He has never completely left the Super Late Model world, but his involvement had waned in recent years.
“We’ve never gotten out of the Super Late scene since we started the Truck program in 2010,” McLeod told Speed51. “We ran a lot of races with different drivers, Matt Tifft, Scott Heckert, over the last decade. The last five years, we haven’t done much. We’ve been really focused on trying to finish building the Xfinity team and getting to the Cup level.
“Securing the charter last year and being able to start the Cup team full-time, it got us really excited and got me thinking about the Super Late program. That’s what got me there, all the seat time and experience and all the time building the cars and things when I was a kid. That’s what gave me the start to eventually be where I’m at now.”
So why does McLeod, with everything on his plate at the NASCAR level, want a Super Late Model team?
I just love Super Late Model racing. If nothing else, I just wanted to get back there. I’ve been out of it so long, but the one thing I knew when I was there was you had to be in it every week to have a chance. The Super Late Model program across the country, no matter what series, it’s unbelievably hard to win. There are many, many good people and teams and drivers. We didn’t have time to do it full-time, and I didn’t want to go there and not have a chance.
“You can be capable of winning any Super Late Model race you go to that’s a big race and still finish 10th, 12th, 15th. It’s like a Cup race. 15th place in a Cup race can win. It’s similar in competition. I think, when I had the chance to meet Travis, look at what he’s done, sit down and spend a couple of hours with him the first time I met him, he reminds me of stuff I’ve done and where we were a little bit ago, trying to do stuff and make things happen.”
The Super Late Model program also offers prospective development drivers a path to go from Late Models all the way to the Cup Series.
Now, we have literally every piece of the stepping ladder. Once you get into a full-bodied Stock Car, you can go from Pro Lates to the Super Lates all the way up the ladder to the Cup Series if possible. Completing that circle back with the driver development program was the goal. Now, everybody that drives for us knows they have a path, whether it’s with our team or not, because you’re driving for a Super Late Model team with a direct connection to where you want to be.
Currently, the team is entering races with Perry Patino, in a car owned by Patino and prepared by Braden in the B.J. McLeod Motorsports shop. The team hopes to start fielding its own house car later this summer.
“The deal with Perry, we’re extremely excited about. Perry is a good kid and owned his own car. Travis is setting it up for him and using some of our resources. As far as the first house car, hopefully you’ll see me at a track somewhere in June or July.”
Most importantly, the team wants to be competitive. Even if that doesn’t mean winning right away, McLeod stresses having the right people and equipment in place to compete for victories when they hit the track.
“With the Super Late Model deal, I want to be in contention. We may finish fifth, 10th, 12th, whatever, but I want to have the right equipment, the right setups, the right people to be able to be successful. I feel like that starts with Travis. He’s won some big races I’ve never been able to win. Being able to know him now and see how driven he is, how much passion he has, he was the perfect match.”
B.J. McLeod Motorsports with Travis Braden will be in action next this Saturday night when the Southern Super Series visits Montgomery Motor Speedway. Race fans can watch Perry Patino drive the No. 51 live on Speed51.TV’s broadcast, which will be available to monthly and yearly subscribers.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo