Langley Austin(LA): Let’s get it on … Another Week of “Off the WALL” … Welcome Corey!
Corey Latham(CL): Well, the time has finally come, no more testing, no more talk, it’s time to get it on.
LA: Yes sir! …. It’s time for these guys to get down to business, the green flag will drop for a few tracks and at least one series this weekend now that the PASS South Series has canceled their event at Dillon … glad we didn’t book a motel room for you on that one.
CL: Hey, I was gonna stay in Myrtle Beach anyway, I’m sure I would have made the most of it. Looks like I’ll be in Hickory for the UARA season opener. This race has the makings of a end of year race to kick off the season. Is all the hype true? It looks like the field is gonna be super tight for this one, all the big dogs are coming out.
LA: I think there is TWO really big races this weekend … the UARA-STARS at Hickory and the season opening Late Model Stock Car race at South Boston Speedway. I think both races will look like it’s already big race season. At the UARA race there’s going to be a ton of top name drivers as it always is with maybe a few more because of the Bristol implications and at South Boston you’ve got the regulars; Justin Johnson, Deac McCaskill and those guys and then you’ve got Philip Morris, Frank Deiny and other top name drivers. It’s going to be an awesome weekend of racing and I’m glad to be a part of it all!
CL: Yeah, it looks like both tracks will have stout fields to say the least. At South Boston, Mr. National Champion is gonna have his hands full. McCaskill and Justin Johnson will contend for the championship, but you can never count out guys like Ronald Hill and Stacy Puryear. Hickory is a complete toss-up for me, Andy Loden and Matt McCall should be tough, but the young guns in the series are not exactly “rookies” compared to them anymore. Brandon McReynolds, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Kyle Grissom will give them a run for their money. So everyone that makes an attempt at Hickory will get a chance to qualify at Bristol?
LA: I’m pretty sure that’s how that will work with the Bristol thing … I’m glad I’m not handling all that stuff Wink and Kerry have their hands full and hopefully that will end up being a good thing for the series. Many people are considering this the biggest Late Model Stock Car race in history given the stage it’s on. It’s going to be interesting. You know I’m not sure where I’d rather be South Boston or Hickory … it’s an awesome weekend of racing.
CL: I really hope so. With the Bristol and Rockingham races, not just the UARA, but Late-Models in general are getting the attention they deserve. Too bad the economy has tanked so bad. I have talked with many racers who have had “for sure plans” for years, but they don’t know where they will be after the first 2-4 races of the year, you always hear the same thing every year, but this year I can’t believe it. Even though it’s tough right now, racers will find a way, they will be at the track. Just talking to Rodney Cook the other day he has no idea where he’s going to race at, but we all know he’ll race somewhere, if it’s just traveling around.
LA: The economy stinks … I don’t think anyone doubts that, but I think these guys are just talking, granted that I think a couple of good wrecks may eliminate some guys it usually wouldn’t, but I think we’re in for the same great racing we’ve always had and maybe a little better. It’s going to be one of those years when we see some guys who haven’t had a break through season, break through! I’ve got a couple guys in mind that I think will be the ones to break through, but for now I’ll keep those to myself … maybe there will be a story spotlighting some of those guys in the next month or so.
CL: Oh, your always full of surprises. I honestly don’t think we’ll see some of the usual domination that goes on with certain tracks this year. The fields have gotten so tight, and everybody is coming into 2009 fully loaded. Maybe I can actually win our fantasy racing this year with my left-field picks. Back to Bristol, you were there for the test, think we’ll see anything different that we haven’t seen in years past? Lot’s of new faces there, Peyton Sellers in the Butch Hamlet ride could be one to watch.
LA: Bristol is going to be much of the same, but I think the difference is going to be the fact that these guys are on a stage in front of potential NASCAR team owners and personalities. I think these guys will push harder and I think they will do things they might not ordinarily do … maybe like dump a guy for the lead of the race, maybe one of them will pull a Joey Logano and slam someone for the win on the final lap. However, I think we will likely see Alex Yontz continue his domination over that track … he’s got something down there that just makes him better than anyone else and obviously it wasn’t his crew chief, because he’s still awesome, he showed that in testing.
I think the difference we’re going to see this year and it’s overall is we’re going to see some of these guys rise to the challenge, maybe Scott Turlington, Paddy Rodenbeck, Joey Bryant, Brennan Poole and some of those no-names(no-offense to them) will become household names in our region. I think not only in the UARA, I think we’re going to have guys at South Boston, Ace, Greenville Pickens, Langley, Lonesome Pine, Newport … at all these tracks we’re going to start to see a changing of the guard … heck, that might even happen at Motor Mile this season. Also we’ve got a great race brewing down there at Greenville Pickens Speedway this weekend with RA Brown hitting the track at least in the first few races. Then you’ve got Marty Ward, David Roberts and Kenneth Headen who are always top contenders … that will be a good show too.
CL: I keep hearing to watch out for Mike Looney this season at Motor Mile. Your right about those you named, and I know you don’t agree, but I think G-money (Garrett Campbell), is gonna be a force in that new Dave Dunlap chassis he’s got. You know I gotta be nice to that crowd, those are really people that you want on YOUR side LOL. I love changing of the guard, but one driver that I think will continue to be on top is someone people still don’t talk about as much as they should, Jason York. The guy doesn’t get the talk that say a Philip Morris does, but man his stats last year were unbelievable. The season hasn’t even started yet and I’m picking him to win Martinsville again. On that note of Greenville Pickens I’ll take ole’ faithful, Marty Ward, but RA Brown will be good too.
LA: Jason York is one of the best drivers in this region, there’s no reason to think he won’t win a ton of races this season. He’s in a new Marlowe car this season and from what I hear from testing he’s liking the car and that can’t be good for the competition. Garrett Campbell??? I wouldn’t say that I don’t agree, I would say that he showed some great talent at times last year, but one thing that he’s gotta to do is stop hanging out with you on Friday nights, LOL … it has to get the best of him and I think if he can be a threat to win on any given week. Dave Dunlap builds great cars and I think Garrett could be one of those “break-out” guys, but he’ll have to bring it this year. And, finally Mike Looney … I’ve known this guy since I was a little boy(hope I don’t make him feel old) and he was a great driver from day one at Franklin County Speedway in his old Ford Torino Street Stock … he’s prepped for a break-out season as well. But, when you start thinking about Motor Mile you’ve got to talk about Chad Harris … he didn’t accomplish anything last year, at least not by the standards we’re accustom to see him run at, but this year he’s got a new car and he’ll be back with crew chief, Dave Roope and those guys should be good. Then you’ve got Derrick Lancaster, Brandon Dean(if he races there this season), Tommy Lemons, Jr. and a whole host of other guys. Plus I think you’ll see Frank Deiny, Jr. at Motor Mile every week and would you count him out???
CL: Hey now, I never hung out the night before any UARA race, I can’t get the people I work for to even get me a cheap motel, it wasn’t me. Maybe it was Doc Love? And don’t single anybody out, we were talking the other day and wondering how MANY of them go from Friday night to racing on Saturday, but it’s all in fun, they are big boys. Speaking of Tommy Lemons, talk about guys improving, look where he has come in the last 2 years. Couldn’t get out of his own way at the beginning, then had the worst luck of anybody I’ve ever seen. But last year was great, that 27 car was a threat every time it pulled onto the track. I think 2009 we will see Tommy win some races, and more than likely, one of the big ones at the end of the year. I know one place he definitely won’t race, if Southern National opened back up and payed $100,000 to win, he wouldn’t be there. I still think he’s doing recon on Del Richards……
LA: Racers forget easily … if SNRP reopens with some new credible management I think a lot of people would be right back down there. Tommy is vastly improved and with Dannie Cox engines this season he’s going to be even better. As far as Garrett goes, I think there’s a lot of Friday night party-ers that could benefit from saving the party for Saturday night. That seems to be a problem with some of these young racers. I think Garrett is greatly talented and I hope we see him break-out, but he’s going to have to want it more than everybody else and that’s going to be tough. The two young guys on the tour you really have to look out for is Brandon McReynolds and Darrell Wallace, Jr. Despite Brandon telling Doc Love that he felt like RACE22.com was looking at him as an underdog on the UARA Soiree` on Tuesday night … I feel quite contrary to that, he’s even my pick for the season opener, I guess if that’s an underdog then Jamey Caudill and Matt McCall are underdogs too … who knew?!?
CL: Hey now, we can’t please everybody, what’s the fun in that? Brandon is someone that has really impressed me, he works hard on the track and off, just because his dad is a NASCAR personality doesn’t mean he’s getting anything special, I can assure everyone of that. Him and Darrell Jr. should be tough to beat this year, Darrell has got Joe Gibbs behind him and Brandon has a brand-new sponsor for 2009 also. It’s just too close to call in the UARA, ask me again after the 3rd race, we should be able to make some observations by then. As for now, I’m going to bed, got to get up early in the morning and meet a driver about a story, got to keep those goofy people that run this site happy. Oh wait…..that’s you…..I keep forgetting.
LA: I hear you Corey … I know it’s waaaayyy past your bedtime, old man! Anyways, maybe we’ll have little something called RACE COVERAGE this weekend if we can get the weather to hold out … I’m tired of trying to analyze this season … I’m glad it’s here!
CL: Weather? What weather? It’s gonna be 75 degrees and partly cloudy this weekend, everybody come on out! I’m outta here dude, see ya at Hickory.
LA: I’ll take your word on that one … I think! See ya Corey!