LATE MODEL ROUNDUP - Presented By Five Star Racecar Bodies
News From AACS, ASA LM, BIG 8 & More
Wisconsin Super Late Models – The Wisconsin Challenge Series (Super Late Models) has been strong early in the year thus far. They had 44 cars go out for time trials in the opener and 63 more show up last weekend for the second race. In addition, the series has finally moved out of its borders, racing in Illinois
All American Super Late Models –The former Southern All Stars, now called the All American Super Late Model Series, has just four races on their schedule, three of which are at the same track (Birmingham, AL). Plus, the recently "rained out" a race at BIR (April 29) was called with just clouds and a little sun poking through.
May 20th – The day of the NASCAR Nextel All Star Challenge is a black hole when it comes to motorsports, especially in the North Carolina area. While most tracks and series take that night off to let fans sit at home and watch, the ASA Late Model Series South will be holding a 150-lap event at Hickory Motor Speedway. Scheduling a race for that day in North Carolina is near suicide
May 21st – The day after the NASCAR Nextel All Star Challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, two different series will be competing within driving distance of the Concord, NC track. The PASS South cars will be in Kenly, NC for their second event of the year, while the USAC Sprint and Midgets will be at Concord Motorsport Park. Both races should benefit from the NASCAR crowds.
Clarks – Cassius Clark is ON FIRE in the PASS North Super Late Model world right now. He’s won the first two races of the year. NASCAR West driver Spencer Clark is also making a name for himself, as the 18-year-old is sixth in the point standings with two top-10s.
Clarks – PASS North driver Johnny Clark isn’t cold by any means, but he isn't living up to his own standards. After two races, he hasn’t yet contended for wins. Fellow PASS North driver Cassius Clark is winning races (as evident as being hot), but people are talking and rules might be changing.
Former Champs In Pro Cup – Both Gary St. Amant (former ASA Champ) and Jeff Fultz (former SES Champ) have moved on to Pro Cup, but both are struggling. Fultz has two top-10s in four races, but skipped the first race of the year and has struggled with mechanical problems. St. Amant is with a new team and it's showing. He’s got one top-10, but two finishes of 20th or worse.
Former Pro Cup Champs – Clay Rogers (2004 Pro Cup Champion) and Shane Huffman (2003 Pro Cup Champ) are two of the hottest short trackers in the country in any series. Between them, they’ve got four wins and numerous top-five finishes and they sit one-two in the Southern Division point's race. The season-long title looks to be a battle between these two drivers.
Elite Divisions – Forget the future (there is none, the four tours die after 2006), these series are struggling. The Southeast Series has only three tracks on the schedule for this year with news that San Antonio has cancelled their race. The Midwest Tour has only seven, but just three stand alone shows. And car counts are hurting bad, with just 16 SES cars showing up at Greenville. Not a way for any tour to die with dignity.
Mods – The True Value Modified Racing Series has car counts that are soaring with multiple consi races and even a Canadian entry! The NASCAR Southern Modified Tour is trucking right along too, with 24-plus cars at every event so far this year after struggling bad in 2005. The Whelen Modified Tour is, of course, as strong as ever with a solid fan base and multiple entries at each show.
For The Fans – More series seem to be going with heat races, which the fans love. At the ACT Late Model opener, Patrick Leperle, Ben Rowe and Phil Scott were all on the outside looking in when it came time for the feature - that's drama. At the PASS South opener, Mike Rowe and Travis Kittleson traded paint to fight for the top starting spot. Competitors might not like heats, but the fans have been wowed this year.
Against The Fans – There is nothing worse than going home thinking one driver won, then finding out later another did. Florida fans know this all too well this year. For whatever reason, there have been a rash of drivers DQ'ed in Florida so far in '06. The top two Goodyear Challenge finishers were thrown out after the Columbia race. There have been tech problems at Pensacola. Fans hate leaving the track and not knowing who won.
Young Age – Hunter Robbins (14 years old) was on cloud nine being signed by WalTom Racing, but now, he’s out of that ride after two DNQs. 15-year-old Trevor Bayne isn’t struggling (15th in Pro Cup points), but with the way he’s run, he would be even higher if it were not for some "rookie mistakes." 17-year-old Cameron Dodson came into the Pro Cup Northern Division with a lot of hype, but hasn’t backed it up.
Old Age – Mike Stefanik, at age 47, is up to his old tricks, winning the Icebreaker at Thompson and he’s leading the Whelen Mod Tour points. Fellow 47-year-old Bobby Gerhart is leading the ARCA points with one win. Terry Mathis is leading the Aaron’s Pro Challenge national points at the tender age of 52. And Junior Miller, at 55, is still the “King of the Southern Mods,” winning a couple of races and leading the SMT points.
Yates Development “Prospects” – Yates has his eye on three drivers. Stephen Leicht won his first ARCA race in his second start. Matt McCall finished second in the ARCA race at Daytona to open the Year. Justin Diercks has been in contention to win each ARCA race he’s be in this year and could have won the race Leicht won. Robert Yates Racing’s future looks bright thanks to these Short Track stars.
Roush Development “Prospects” – Roush’s Gong Show was supposed to find the “best of the best.” Sondi Eden impressed, but she’s been struggling adapting to the full-bodied CRA Super Series. Pete Sheppard is high on Roush’s radar screen, but his lack of track time in 2006 has made him a distant memory in some eyes. The rest of the “Driver X” cast not signed by Roush, including Jason Hogan and Travis Kittleson, are showing impressive runs thus far.