After a two-month offseason, the sounds of Late Model Stocks will be heard once again with over two dozen drivers scheduled to take part in the Icebreaker at Myrtle Beach Speedway on Saturday afternoon.
Jacob Heafner will be among those looking to start off the new decade on a positive note and is confident that he can put his #95 Powerhouse Recycling Ford up at the front of the pack even with a completely different Late Model body style.
“I’m super excited that we get to debut the new Gen 6 body,” Heafner said. “I’m curious to see if it handles any different, but we ran really good at the Myrtle Beach 400, so I think that’s going to translate right over into the Icebreaker. We have a shot at a Top 5, if not a win.”
After winning the Late Model track championship at Hickory Motor Speedway in 2018, Heafner embarked on a diverse schedule that saw him compete at a variety of different speedways during the 2019 season, which includes three appearances in the CARS Solid Rock Carriers Late Model Stock Tour.
Heafner considered 2019 to be a positive year for him and his team despite some poor showings, with his personal highlight coming during the 105.3 The Bear Twin 50’s at Motor Mile Speedway, where he engaged in intense battles with Philip Morris and Mike Looney before settling for Top 5 finishes in each race.
Heafner was able to build more momentum as the season progressed and finished 12th in his first ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway before concluding his season with a 15th place showing in the curfew-shortened Myrtle Beach 400.
Heafner enters the 2020 Late Model season confident and determined to add more wins to his Late Model resume, but he will have to obtain those accomplishments with the recently approved new Gen 6 body, which Heafner will take his first laps in this weekend.
Although the new bodies have caused controversy within the Late Model community over the last several months, Heafner does not expect many differences with them, but he admitted that he will not know for sure until race day on Saturday.
“I don’t think we’ll notice anything different in single-car runs,” Heafner said. “I’m not sure what we’ll find out on Saturday since Myrtle Beach has pack racing, and you can get tucked up underneath somebody. I think there will be some differences when we get to these faster racetracks like Martinsville.”
Pack racing will be a theme on Heafner’s schedule over the next two weeks, as he will trade in his Late Model for an ARCA car when he gets behind the wheel of the #77 Powerhouse Recycling Ford for Chad Bryant Racing in the Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona International Speedway.
The speed that Bryant’s car possessed during the official Daytona test session in January has Heafner optimistic about his chances to win the 200-mile race, but he said that his main focus is to gain experience and hopefully generate more positive attention within the ARCA and NASCAR garage area.
For now, Heafner is focused on securing a victory at Myrtle Beach Speedway, and believes that he can be one of the favorites to win as long as he saves his equipment, avoids trouble, and gets the setup of his Late Model to his liking in what is expected to be a cold afternoon for racing.
“It was pretty cold during last year’s Icebreaker, and we’ve been pretty successful at Myrtle Beach in the cold,” Heafner said. “I’m hoping everything turns out like the last Myrtle Beach 400 did. That was the best car I ever had at the track, and I was bummed when the race got shortened because we definitely had a Top 5 car. If everything goes as planned, we should be one of the frontrunners.”
Heafner and the rest of his Late Model competitors will take part in the first of four Icebreaker features, with the green flag scheduled to drop on the 125-lap race at approximately 3 p.m.