All Star Late Model Showdown provides stern challenge
The first "special" show of the season is here and many local drivers are unsure they will be ready for the onslaught.
"It is extremely hard to have an early show, especially on the locals because when you are bringing in the bigger guys, they have had some seat time already," John Mollick, driver of the 4J, said. "They travel more distance and get to race in some better weather, and the weather here has really knocked us back."
Mollick is not alone in his concern for tonight's All Star Late Model Showdown in Sarvertown that will pay $5,000-to-win. The series is scheduled for a $4,000-to-win show Saturday at K-C Raceway in Chillicothe, Ohio.
The All Stars had two good shows at Lernerville last season. Robbie Blair won the first in April, and Shane Clanton followed that with a victory in September.
Even though the All Stars have had only one official race this season, many of the top teams spent time in Florida for Speedweeks, where they shook off the winter rust and experimented on new things for their cars.
"You definitely want to get some laps under your belt just to get comfortable and if you have more than one car, you want to see which one feels better right now," Sarver's John Garvin Jr., driver of the J4, said. "You want to see which one has more speed but other than that, you have to wait and see what the tracks gives you.
"We brought our older car tonight, so we have the middle set up for it. We know what will work and don't go too far from that, and won't get too far off either way. I think if you start off like that, it helps and you go from there. As for major adjustments on the first night, I really don't do any of that."
The All Stars started the season in Florida. Don O'Neal won the feature Feb. 13 at Ocala Speedway. The opener Feb. 3 at Screven Speedway in Georgia was postponed until November 2. But the Florida Speedweeks at Volusia and East Bay give drivers time to get in gear.
"It hurts not getting these early races in because you might want to try out some new things and just don't have the races yet," Mollick said. "How many times does a guy like Josh Richards race a season• Around 80• A local guy is lucky if he gets 40 races a year. That is a huge difference in seat time, and that is what it all boils down to."
Garvin went to Florida in February and he feels more prepared for tonight's race.
"We went to Florida and we made the first night at Ocala and ran in the top-15 or 16," Garvin, the 2010 All Star Rookie of the Year, said. "Then, we had a good car at Volusia, but I just messed up. And with those guys, if you make a mistake you lose six or seven spots. And the rest of the week was just average.
Matt Lux, #21, has done plenty of traveling and he, took, knows the importance of getting races in before a big show, but he has not had too many chances to race in 2011.
"We have only raced at Tyler County last weekend and we came down here for the practice day," Lux said opening night. "A lot of these guys tonight, honestly, will be the cars that are here for the All Stars, so it will be a test and tune for guys. There will be quality cars. I think that's what guys are doing tonight.
"As far as me, I don't really experiment too much. I do what I always do and right now, after the winter, you have to build up your money again."
The other wildcard is the brutal economy. Lux said he would choose a lower paying race if it involved less driving from his home in Franklin. And for Mollick, he is aware there is a fine line this early in the season.
"It's a thin line early on not being too aggressive and tearing up somebody else's equipment and being too cautious yourself," Mollick said. "You have to be on that line to be fast. These first couple weeks are very big to get everything right on your car and to get yourself focused on what is happening on the track."
ask the driver
Steve Feder: driver of the #45 V-8 Modified
Is there anything big that you have changed for this season?
We have a different chassis for this year. It's a 2008 Teo. Last year, we had an '07. So we updated a few things and we rebuilt the motor. Now, we will go and have fun.Additional Information:
At a glance
All Star Late Models 2010 final standings:
1. Robbie Blair, 2,530
2. Jared Miley, 2,472
3. Gregg Satterlee, 2,436
4. Boom Briggs, 2,351
5. Greg Oakes, 2,307
6. John Garvin Jr., 2,167
7. Matt Lux, 1,776
8. Darren Peters, 1,135
9. Jared Hawkins, 1,124
10. Dave Hess Jr., 940