Despite the fact that the Late Models put on a good show with just five cars (two were Limiteds filling field and didn’t come to run Late Models) on the track in the season opener this past weekend at Greenville Pickens Speedway, the track officials made the decision to combine the Limited Late Models and Late Model Stock Cars going forward.
Many conversations swirled in the pit area during the Winter Meltdown this past weekend on the low car count for the Late Models and possibly combining them for that event. Track promoter Anthony Anders declined to make that move on Saturday but after careful consideration this week, he and his staff decided to do that going forward.
“We had three Late Models,” Anthony Anders told RACE22.com. “It’s pretty sad.”
Anders enters his fifth season of promoting Greenville-Pickens Speedway after winning the 2014 track and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship. This could be his most challenging season yet. The race this past weekend for the Late Model division showed signs of a huge challenge for the track to get or sustain a Late Model field.
“This is the right thing to do,” continued Anders. “This is what’s best for us and the drivers. They can all keep racing and do so without a short field.”
The change puts the Limited Late Models as the top division using the name Late Models while utilizing a mixed rulebook. The rules will follow the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car rulebook for 2019 while adjusting the carburetor to the ones used by the Limited Late Models previously.
Anders is hopeful to retain the cars he had this past weekend as well as draw in some new cars who will want to run with full or nearly full-fields.
“Think about it, Myrtle Beach Speedway ran a Limited Late Model class as their top division for a while. I ran with them for a few seasons. Then in 2015, they combined them and easily have 18-19 cars. That’s what we’re thinking we’ll have.”
The track announced the change via their Facebook page and the responses have been mixed with some opposed to the change and others who think it’s the right decision to increase car count. The change will begin when racing resumes at the half-mile speed plant on March 16th since this Saturday’s race has already been canceled due to impending weather.
One Late Model Stock Car driver who was planning to run for the track championship at Greenville Pickens Speedway but says he likely won’t now is Jefferson, Georgia driver Taylor Satterfield. Satterfield had planned to run for the Greenville-Pickens Speedway Late Model Stock Car track championship but says now that he isn’t sure that he’ll run there.
“I don’t want to race three to five cars either,” Satterfield told RACE22.com. “I understand the car count situation and it’s not a bad deal but I just don’t think we’ll run there full-time now. I haven’t sat down with the team and we like to make decisions together but I don’t think we’ll run for that championship.”
Satterfield understands but isn’t sold on it.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” Satterfield continued. “What’s it going to do in the long term though? I think it’s a short term decision that leaves people out. It’s not going to draw Limited Late Model cars from anywhere else because the rules are different and it’s not going to draw Late Model Stock Car guys because of who they’ll be running against.”
Late Model Stock Car winner from this past weekend’s Winter Meltdown at Greenville Pickens, Neil Meredith says he knew this was going to happen but didn’t know when.
“I kinda seen it coming,” Meredith told RACE22.com. “If cars cost $50-60,000 to build only a select few can go racing. But if they cost $15-20,000 like Limiteds, then many more can afford to race.”
Meredith says he doesn’t want to run Limiteds but he’ll do whatever he can to continue to race.
“I don’t want to run a two-barrel carburetor but you sorta gotta do what you gotta do when you only have two or three other cars to race against. I started last night after Anthony (Anders) called me and I got a carburetor today and as soon as I can go test, I will.”
Satterfield thinks that while it’ll help the car count right now, it’ll also divide the lesser experienced Limited Late Model guys and the Late Model Stock Car drivers even more than it did with them running somewhat together in the big race this past weekend.
“It’s going to stink the show up pretty bad,” Satterfield claims. “The Hawk-McCall cars were kinda evident of that this past weekend. If a Late Model guy like (Tommy Lemons) or someone shows up it’s going to be worse. What’s going to happen?”
“I’m not Dale Earnhardt. I’m not above anyone but I got tore up this past weekend because of drivers with less experience and guys who are willing to run Late Models and the expense that comes with that aren’t going to run Limiteds there like that. It’s not good for the guys trying to get experience or those who have worked their way up either.”
Lee McCall, who owns three of the top Limited Late Models from this past weekends race including the top two finishers, thinks this is the only move the track could make.
“I think it’s good,” McCall told RACE22.com. “We ran Carteret last year for $15,000 to win against eight or so really good Late Model Stock Car drivers. I’d rather run my cars against more cars than try to run against only a couple of cars.”
McCall says he knows the Limited driver’s mindset is to worry about the additional competition that’ll come from this but he thinks it’ll be helpful to them to run against better drivers.
“I try to take my guys to race against the best. If you run against guys with little experience, then you’re not going to get as much experience as you could racing a guy who’s got a lot of experience. I think it’s just what the track had to do and everyone will adapt.”
Another driver and team owner who says they’ll continue to run is Randy Porter who owns three cars out of Porter Motorsports. The veteran driver will compete himself in half the schedule as well as last years Late Model Stock Car track champion, Trey Gibson competing in half the races with Tasha Kummer running them all.
“It’s nothing Anthony (Anders) intended to do, it was forced by the car count,” Porter told RACE22.com. “We tried yesterday to think of how many other cars could have been there in Late Model and it was only four or five. That’s not a good race.”
Porter says that signs have been pointing in this direction for a while and thinks that it’s the only thing the track could do to make sure the fans got a great show.
“It’s a bad situation. You’re never going to please everyone. When they started Limiteds it cut the field in half basically and there have been guys quit since. It’s just not realistic for them to run both divisions of basically the same car.”
Winds of change keep blowing as tracks fight to keep their gates open and hopefully, this is the move that’ll allow Anders to keep Greenville Pickens Speedway operating for years to come.