The transition of Cole Williams from Pro Late Models to Super Late Models is about to hit a key step this coming weekend during the 34th Annual All American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville. After months of building and toiling, the No. 46 team is geared to make a big splash on Sunday afternoon, and Williams is all jacked up for it.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it. We tested our Super Late Model, and it went really well. Just makes me look forward to the race even more,” Williams told Speed51.com.
This is not the first All American 400 start for the 22-year-old Indiana driver. Williams has prior race appearances in 2014 and 2015, but those were under Pro Late Model rules, a different playing field than what he has moved to now in Super Late Models.
Williams has learned much in the past three years in both classes to help prepare him for this Super Late Model crown jewel.
“I feel like just having the experience from the last time and having more time in a Super Late Model is going to help,” Williams stated. “Learning what the car likes and doesn’t like is going to help me over the longer runs to conserve the car and make sure I have a car to compete with at the end of the race. These races are lot different to run than in a Pro Late Model and the drivers are a little bit more experienced, which has also helped me learn.”
In his young career, the former Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville champion feels that he has knowledge of the track that is up there with some veterans. It will be knowledge that he will need to be successful this weekend.
“There’s a lot I like about it, the history, the fanbase I feel has grown back the last couple of years, plus it feels like I got about a thousand laps around there,” Williams said. “It’s a track I feel like I’m at home, I feel like I know what I can change and adapt to with the track. It’s a comfortable place for me and that’s what I enjoy the most. There’s so much history behind the place, to win there would mean so much.”
The biggest challenge for Williams this weekend will be minding the endurance of both himself and his race car over the 400 laps, the longest-distance race of his career.
“The most laps I’ve ever done was 300 laps and that was in the Pro Late Model version of the All American 400, so this will be the most I’ve ever done,” he explained. “It’s going to be a huge learning experience to go that long, and I think it’s a 14-tire race, so you got the tire strategy and conserving over 400 laps to be there at the end is going to be a huge learning experience for me.”
The 2018 season his been very scattered for Williams, who has made only four race starts in his Super Late Model. But he has managed to log plenty of testing laps, and has plenty of notes from the North/South Super Late Model Challenge that was run at Nashville back in April.
“This year we didn’t race as much as we wanted to, just because building the Super Late Model with my own team was more expensive than we thought it was going to be. We got a little behind on funding, so we had to slow down our racing schedule to catch up and make sure we could run the All American 400 and other big races. We’ve done a lot of R&D testing and we got a lot of notes from the year. Going into next year will be even better, especially for this race.”
Given his prep time and his good history with Nashville, Williams is confident about his chances to win Sunday afternoon, as long as he keeps the car in one piece and the tires underneath him.
“Based off the test, I think we’ll be really good. We went there at the beginning of the season and we were almost a half-second faster than we had been. I feel confident, I think our team is very capable of doing it. There’s going to be a lot of good cars there, so it should be a good 400 laps. We’ll see who can save their tires the best, and I feel like we can be one of those cars that competes for a win. We’ll see what happens.”
Be sure to follow Speed51.com’s coverage of the All American 400 this Saturday and Sunday.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com