“Patience is everything in a long race. If you have a good car, you still have to be there at the end. The only lap that counts is that last lap.
And that theory worked out well for Grissom, but did not for many others who didn’t make it to the checkered flag.
The first half of the race saw pure dominance by two drivers, UARA veteran Jaime Yelton and Andy Loden. They led a very cautious field of cars around the historic North Carolina track for a very clean first half of the race. But around the halfway mark, it seemed that patience, for many, went out the window.
KYLE GRISSOM WINS WILD UARA OPENER by Matthew Dillner
Second Generation Star Proves that Patience Pays
Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. – John Quincy Adams
Patience was a motto employed by the sixth President of the United States of America, John Quincy Adams, who was also the first second-generation leader of our country.
Late in the race, Concord Motorsport Park regular Ross Furr led the field to green for a restart but missed a gear. Furr’s botched restart created a ripple effect behind his #25. With the field stacked up in confusion, Grissom, who patiently paced his way through the race, pounced on the opportunity.
After showing poise for about 100 laps, Grissom made his move, throwing his car three-wide under Brandon Ward and Alex Yontz to move into the second position in daring fashion. Grissom then hunted down Furr and took the lead and then the win.
While Short Track Racing has its share of second- and third-generation athletes, some do not achieve the success of their predecessors. Young driver Kyle Grissom is attempting to extend the family racing heritage of his father, Steve Grissom, a veteran of the NASCAR Cup and Busch ranks.
Ironically, 177 years later, Adams’ philosophy on patience may be one of the keys to success for the 16-year-old North Carolina racer as he grows his racing career in the UARA Late Model ranks.
Grissom and the UARA-Stars Late Model Series opened the 2006 season with a wild race at Hickory Motor
Kyle Grissom poses with his family in victory lane including his dad Steve in the Yankee hat. (51 Photos)
Grissom's kept the fenders on his #31 clean all race.
Clay Jones #50 was one of the many who were caught up in wrecks while leading the UARA opener.
Speedway (NC) on Saturday night. Veterans and young guns traded paint during the 3rd Annual Joe Walker Memorial 150, resulting in many cars ending up in a heap. But Grissom kept his composure and avoided a myriad of wrecks to take his second-career UARA win.
“It’s absolutely unbelievable,” said an ecstatic Grissom. “You just can’t ask for a better way to start out the season. We didn’t have a good qualifying effort, so we really didn’t know how the night was going to go. They started wrecking and we just stayed out of them.
The craziness started when two lapped cars tangled in turn two collecting leaders Yelton and Loden. Loden’s #28 went off on the hook, while Yelton and his “Forest City Bad Boys” crew lost two laps making repairs on the #8 in the infield pit area.
Suddenly it was a new race.
Clay Jones, in his debut behind the #50 formerly driven by Jaime Caudill, took over the dominant role. But Jones’ fate was sealed when he, too, was collected by a crash while trying to put laps on the field.
It was not a good night to be the leader.
“The leaders started wrecking and then there was another wreck and another one. I knew that with those guys wrecking, that was just steadily giving me spots. I was just trying to keep patient and when they would wreck, I would keep out of it and take those spots.
“You need to be there at the end and still have something to race with. That is something that Daddy has preached to me and I have worked on. Like tonight, I had to save my car and stay out of those wrecks to be there when it counted. We were able to do that.”
And his famous racing father was very proud of his son’s veteran-like demeanor behind the wheel.
Steve Grissom talks to his son just before his qualifying lap at Hickory.
“We got restarted there and then all of a sudden everyone was stopping,” said Grissom. “So I made a quick split-second move and went low and was able to pick up a couple of spots right there. We really got lucky there because that could have went against us just as easily as it went for us.
“You have to take care of your car and take care of your tires the whole way to make sure you can make it to the end. But when someone opens the door, you have to be there because you might only get that opportunity once. That is something I am trying to get better at. We did better with it tonight. When the door opened up, I was able to take advantage of it and that is pretty important to win one of these races.”
Although the young racer used a bold move to advance positions, patience was still the order of the day.
“Kyle did a very good job of being patient,” said father Steve. “He did a good job out there keeping his head and keeping his tires. And then when the opportunity presented itself to make a move, he was able to take advantage of it and take the lead and run his pace.
“I’m proud of Kyle. It’s really hard to be patient when you have a good car and you start in the middle of the pack. He used his head and it worked out for him tonight.”
In a day and age where young racers are rushed up the rungs of the racing ladder as soon as they have any success, the Grissom’s believe that patience is also important in the development process. After winning UARA Rookie of the Year honors and grabbing his first win in 2005, they decided not to move up the ranks, rather to stay and gain more experience in the UARA Late Model Series.
“Kyle’s age (16) being what it is, we felt like it was best for him to run another year in the UARA,” says Steve. “He learned a lot last year and will learn a whole lot more this year. It’s a good series. The way the rules are here with the horsepower, with the four-barrel carburetor and the 150-lap races, it teaches a driver throttle control and how to take care of the tires.”
The younger Grissom agrees.
“This is a really good series to learn in and travel around to different tracks,” said Kyle. “I felt like we learned a lot last year but we had a lot more to learn here this year.
We decided to run this deal again this year and hopefully I can learn a lot more, so maybe we can move up to Hooters Pro Cup or onto a different series. This is an awesome series to learn in and it really prepares you for a lot of things you need to know when you move up to another series.
“There is nothing wrong with running another year here and getting my feet on the ground even better so that way I am really ready to make that jump when the opportunity comes.”
And Grissom knows, just as he showed on his way to the win, to keep his composure but pounce on opportunities when they present themselves.
Much like the second-generation President Adams, this second-generation racer clearly holds the patience of a leader and a winner in the racing world.
(Speed51.com will have more on the UARA opener in our Leftovers section coming soon).