The Music City Motorplex pit area is bursting at the seams with ASA Late Model and CRA Super Series teams. Fifty-two ASA Late Models and over 50 CRA Super Late Models showed up to the historic half-mile this weekend. The ASA Late Model Challenge Series is making its debut as a division of the ASA organization, and series Co-Founder and President Ron Varney was pleased by the level of competition in Nashville.
“We’ve got 52 cars signed in,” said Varney. “Any time you get more than 50 cars it’s going to be a really good field. I expect it to be a great race and it will continue to grow. Of course I would’ve liked to have seen 60, but if a series can get more than 50 then you’ve got something going and you can’t hang your head in shame.”
CRA / ASA LM NOTES: FRIDAY By Jeremy Troiano & Matt Kentfield
Over 100 Cars, A Few Spins, One Big Wreck
STUMP STUMPPED AFTER BIG WRECK
Veteran racer Kris Stump’s new ASA Late Model lasted less than 24 hours.
After the team finished the car late on Thursday, Stump stuffed the car hard into the turn one after something let go on the front end of the #35 ride.
There wasn’t just Kris Stump’s big wreck on Friday, but there were several spins in both divisions. Thankfully though, each of those spins resulted in either just a light brush with the wall or no contact. Each driver was able to continue.
NEW CAR, OLD LOOK FOR MILLER
Look at Butch Miller’s ASA Late Model and you’d think you took a trip into the past.
Kris Stump wrecked hard in practice. (51 Photos)
Miller’s #52 ASI Limited ASA Late Model is baring the red and white colors of an old, familiar ride… the ASA car that he drove in the mid-80s when driving for LeRoy Throop.
“It was like a birthday present from (crew chief) Deon (Denau),” said Miller. “It was like he took 20 years off of my life. When he wouldn’t let me come to the shop and wouldn’t let me work on the car, I was really suspicious that something goofy was going on. I didn’t know if he just didn’t like me any more or if something goofy was going on. Fortunately, something goofy was going on.
“This paint scheme is about 20 years old. We ran this
It was like the old days... Miller's #52 at the Nashville Fairgrounds.
Stump’s car was, to say the least, destroyed.
“There are a lot of marks heading up to the wall,” said Stump. “There is a broken rear brake rotor, but I think that happened more from the impact. I just don’t know what happened. A control arm could have broke or something. It didn’t feel like something collapsed. The brake pedal just went to the floor. I don’t know.
“We just finished the car last night. It was a brand new car. It was our first laps on the car. It is just way too bad. I’m ok. I just banged myself up a little bit.”
car in the mid-80s with LeRoy Troop and Kevin Hamlin. This thing is really cool.
“He went to a lot of work to do this. I believe it was SAI Roofing was my sponsor back then, and he just switched the letters around to ASI, who owns this car.”
“TV STAR” MAKING SUPER LATE MODEL DEBUT
In the Midwest ranks, and in the open wheel ranks, the name Sondi Eden wasn’t all that unfamiliar to most people. Thanks to Roush Racing and the TV show “Roush Racing: Driver X,” Eden is now a household name.
This weekend, Eden is racing in the CRA Super Series opener at Nashville.
“This opportunity came through Roush Racing. Jack saw something that he wanted to see more of. He thought there was some potential there and he wanted me to get into some heavier cars. So we put this deal together and it is working out well. It is good to be with a group of guys that know about this racing and have been through it. Chris (Gabehart) is giving me a lot of good pointers. We are getting some fendered experience and learning this series.
“Coming to Nashville is pretty neat. It is a neat facility. I just want to make the race and get some laps under my belt. What a interesting place it is tough though. Chris has been a big help. It is pretty neat because he’s been in the midgets and we raced against each other.”
“Luckily, Menards was still open. I'll bet you didn’t know Menards sold engines. We went to Menards and bought a new engine.”
Those were the exact words of racer Landon Cassill.
And he wasn’t lying. After blowing an engine in his ASA Late Model car, Cassill visited Menards to get a new one. But it wasn’t the regular Menards Home Improvement store that most people would go to to get nails, hammers and tool.
Instead, he went across the pit area and got a backup motor from Charlie Menard, who is racing this weekend in the ASA Late Model Series as well.
“The ASA car was good, but we only went out once and it blew the motor. This car here is pretty good. We had 200-lap old tires from last year and we came in here and had decent tomes. The car handled pretty good on both parts.”
BETTER THAN A WEEK AGO
A week ago, Brian Campbell was sitting against the wall in his #29 ASA Late Model
Friday, things were going a lot better for him.
“The day has been pretty good,” said Campbell. “We were here a week ago and that day didn’t go very well. We wound up in the fence, so this is a better deal.
We spent all day on old tires. I think I need to get myself better. I think the car is a lot faster than I am right now. For never being here, I think it is all right. We broke a steering arm coming into one. It was a bad deal.
Brian Campbell's #29 at speed.
“This is a real cool place. It is a racy racetrack. You can almost go wherever you want.”
FROM CANADA TO MUSIC CITY
Pete Vanderwyst left his home in London, Ontario, Canada this week for Nashville, TN expecting warm Southern weather and some good racing as part of the ASA Late Model Challenge Series. The top-quality racing he got, but the weather was a different story. The chilly weather may have been just like home for Vanderwyst, but the competition was nothing like he had ever seen before.
“We definitely came down here expecting some nicer weather, that’s for sure,” said Vanderwyst after Friday’s practice in the 40-degree Nashville weather. “We drove 12 hours down here expecting it to be 80 degrees like it was down here yesterday, but this is what we get.”
ASA Late Model racing may be a departure from the racing he’s used to on the Canada-based CASCAR Super Series, but Vanderwyst is excited about racing with some of the best Super Late Model drivers in the country this season as he races on the ASA Late Model Challenge Series.
“We wanted to give this ASA Late Model Series a shot and to come out here and see how we stack up with
guys like Butch Miller, Jack Landis, and Landon Cassill and some of these other guys that you hear about all the time. We just wanted to come down here and have some fun and see what we can do with this new car.”
MORE THAN 100 CARS IN THE NASHVILLE PITS
There are a lot of CRA (above) and ASALMS cars at Nashville.
BIRES QUICK FOR WALTOM TEAM
Fresh off the 2005 ASA Late Model Championship, the WalTom Racing team brought their new crop of drivers, Kelly Bires and Hunter Robbins, to Music City Motorplex to kick off the new season. Robbins was impressive in practice Friday afternoon, but Bires was the one who turned the most heads. The 21-year-old was among the fastest drivers in each practice session, even topping the speed chart in the second-to-last on-track session.
“It’s been pretty neat. We got a lot of coverage there at home for it being our first time winning it after going there and trying for 30 years. The Pensacola Sports Association named us the Athlete of the Year or some award, I’m not sure which one it is. I was even the grand marshal for the Mardi Gras down there.
“I was really honored to win the race but it has really humbled to see all the accolades that I’ve been given since then. Every day of my life since the Derby someone’s congratulated me. It’s been great.”
RED FARMER BACK IN NASHVILLE
Even though he’s famous for his Alabama racing roots, Red Farmer is no stranger to the Nashville area. In fact, the racing legend grew up on Nashville’s Edgewood Avenue, just two blocks away from the track now known as Music City Motorplex. While he calls Alabama home now and has for many years, Farmer still loves coming back to Nashville and visiting the track that he saw plenty of success on in his illustrious career.
“We were on top of the board in both sessions,” said Mercer. “The car is pretty good but we really haven’t had a chance to do much out there because there’s so much traffic out there.”
Mercer had tried to win the Snowball Derby for his entire career and he finally put the entire package together in December.
Mercer celebrated that night with an emotional Victory Lane celebration; one that is still going on today.
“I’ve been coming back here for 40 years and it doesn’t get any different,” said Farmer, who traveled to Nashville to help out Ken McFarland’s CRA Super Series effort. “I was born and raised two blocks from here and I’ve been coming here for my whole life. The track’s a lot different than it was back in the 60’s, that’s for sure.”
Ken McFarland has been a friend of Farmer’s for many years and is ecstatic to have the original Alabama Gang member helping him out in the pits this weekend.
“He grew up here and anytime you can have him here at the track it means a lot to both him and to me,” said McFarland. “He’s a cordial individual. For someone to take the time that he takes not only with me but with anyone else shows that he’s a heck of a person. I saw
pictures the other day of him racing here and it’s great to
listen to him tell the stories about racing here.”
Farmer certainly has many stories to tell of the good ol’ days at Nashville, but he’s impressed by the current field of starts competitng at the track this weekend.
“The competition is good today, but we had the Stavola Brothers, Freddy Fryar and CooCoo Marlin and all the best drivers back then. The competition now is good, but we had some awful good competition back in our day too. Everybody’s still running wide open, that’s one thing that’s still the same.”
DOUBLE DUTY FOR SEVERAL DRIVERS
It’s hard enough to get one car worked on and put on the track during a race event, but it’s even tougher to put two entires on the track in two different series. That’s exactly the gameplan for several drivers, including Eddie Hoffman, Jay Middleton, Joe Ross, Landon Cassill, Jack Landis, and others.
Those drivers are competing in both the ASA Late Model Challenge Series and CRA Super Series races in Nashville this weekend. While some drivers are excited about running two entires, others are finding their weekend to be very tiring.
“It takes a lot of people to be able to do this,” said Kansas City, MO-native Joe Ross. “We brought everybody that we knew from home to help out. We’ve got a new motor in one car and a new setup in the other one. We wanted to come down here and give it a try. We may have bit off a little more than we could chew though.”
Eddie Hoffman has been pleased with the way that his pit crew has given their attention to both cars.
“I’ve got them working their butts off, but they do that every time we go to the track anyway,” said Hoffman. “It’s nice having a full crew for both cars here. The way they set up practice here we can work on one car while I’m out on the track with the other car. The Super Late Model is really good but the ASA car needs a little work, but I think we can get it better.”
The first ever winner in the ASA Late Model South Series two weeks ago in Bronson, FL, Jay Middleton, is in Nashville with the same winning ASA car as well as his familiar #74 CRA Super Late Model. Middleton knows that he won’t be able to drive the two cars the same, but
Ken McFarland (left) is getting help this weekend from racing legend Red Farmer (right).
Joe Ross (top) is one of the drivers doing double duty this weekend, along with Eddie Hoffman (bottom).
“I didn’t even know we were on top of the charts. That’s pretty cool,” said Bires. “We’re getting better but we’re not where we want to be yet. It’s fast but I think we can make it better even yet, so I think we’ll be good tomorrow.”
The day didn’t start off well for Bires, however. A spin early in the afternoon could’ve been disastrous, but the young driver avoided any contact and continued on to be one of the fastest on the track.
“We switched the tires around in the pits and when I stomped on the gas I just got sideways. There was a car
on the outside of me and I could’ve tried to straighten it out but instead I just spun it around by myself.”
MERCER STILL SMILING AFTER SNOWBALL
The last time Eddie Mercer’s name was atop a field rundown, he was celebrating his memorable Snowball Derby victory. It’s been more than three months since the Snowball Derby in Pensacola, FL, but race winner Eddie Mercer is still receiving praise for his memorable performance in his hometown race, even on a day where he was atop the CRA Super Series’ speed charts all day long.
he’s hoping for a double-dip of victories in Saturday night’s features.
“The steering is different, just overall in general, the cars are different,” said Middleton. “One has bias-ply tires, one has radial tires. The motor deal is completely different. The ASA, you have to drive the car in the corner a lot harder and stay on top of what the car is going. It is a fine line between both of them.”
Jack Landis is also hoping for a pair of solid results at the end of Saturday night, but he was primarily focused on getting both cars into the race. He’s not worried about 350 total laps on Saturday night, either.
“We are going to make a lot of laps. That isn’t bad, as long as the cars are handling good. It isn’t too hard, even on an old man like me. It will be a lot of fun. If it is going the way it is now, it won’t be too bad. We need to work on the ASA car some.
“It won’ t be too hard to do that many laps tonight. If you take a car that isn’t very good and try to hustle it, yeah, it will be hard. I don’t drive that way though. If I've got a junk race car, I'll drive it like a junk racecar. You can’t take a junk racecar and win with it. I really want to take both cars home in one piece. Hopefully, I do well with them, but I want to take those home.”
MUSIC CITY A LONG WAYS FROM MAINE FOR MULKERN
It was no quick jaunt for Scott Mulkern to get to Nashville this weekend. The driver of the #84 CRA entry made the trip from his Maine home to the Music City for the first time.
“I tried to come down here for the All-American 400 down here last year and couldn’t but I’m hoping to come back this year,” said Mulkern. “I wanted to come down and get my feet wet and see what it’s like before I tried to do it.”
So what has his first Nashville on-track experience been like so far?
“I don’t know yet, I haven’t been out there much. I feel pretty comfortable out there in the time that I have been out there. I can’t compare this place to anywhere I’ve been to.
Speed51's Matt Kentfield talks with PASS regular Scott Mulkern at Nashville.
“I don’t know a whole lot about the guys down here, but I know there’s a lot of good drivers. With that many cars it’s going to be tough to qualify because I suck at qualifying. I’m going to try to get in and put on some tires and do the best I can.”