Wytheville, VA ~ To say that the Late Model Stock Car racing news is flowing slowly would be a huge understatement, but there’s a few things we’re working on that may be some good stories as we head into the new year.
First let me say thank you to everyone reading this commentary, we appreciate your support here and as always your feedback to anything we do is welcome at [email protected] … Anyways, back to racing, let’s take a look at whats happening or in some cases not happening around the world of Late Model Stock Car racing …
Fat Head Racing the rental car program operated by Jamie Yelton has still not finalized plans for the 2009 season. Yelton, who expects to return to the UARA-STARS Series full-time next season currently has no one ready to set in the seat of his second car. Many drivers have been rumored to that seat since the season ended, but currently the ride is still available. The Fat Head Racing ride has seen a host of top level drivers behind the wheel in 2008 including NASCAR Nationwide Series driver, Steven Wallace, who had nothing but great things to say about the opportunity he had behind the wheel of Yelton’s car.
“This is the best car I’ve ever drove in Late Model competition. Jamie(Yelton) has been a friend of mine for several years and with an off
weekend away from the Nationwide schedule, I’m glad I got to drive his car,” said Wallace. “We’ve talked about doing some more on my off weekends next season, but we’ll have to see where we both are when we get there.”
Yelton said that while he would love to have Wallace behind the wheel of his car again a couple times next season that he is more interested in getting a full-time driver behind the wheel.
“Steven(Wallace) is a lot of fun and we hope to do more with him next season, but right now we need to get someone lined up in this car full-time for 2009. It’s way too good of a car to have it parked in our shop all season,” said Yelton.
Needless to say the Fat Head Racing ride would be a great car for a rookie driver looking to break into Late Model Stock Car racing or an accomplished racer looking to bring his helmet to the track and just drive the car. Yelton’s success this season with the rental car program was unmatched in Late Model Stock Car racing with first Paddy Rodenbeck getting behind the wheel and while learning, he turned in some great qualifying runs and when he finished with the rookie stripe intact he finished very strongly. Other drivers jumping behind the wheel this season was UARA rookie, Thomas Hartensveld and Clay Greenfield with Hartensveld turning in his best career runs in the final two races of the UARA-STARS season.
We’ll have more on Yelton and his Fat Head Racing team as stories continue to progress and I expect to shortly be able to announce his new driver for the rental car program and a schedule for the 2009 season for this top-tier team.
Financial Struggles continue to plague some of the Late Model Stock Car drivers in our region as the world economy begins to make it’s presence known here in our racing region as well. Some of the talent off of the UARA-STARS circuit from 2008 have indicated that despite some great plans for 2009 they may find themselves on the sidelines for part if not all season. Out of respect for the teams working on obtaining sponsors for next season we will not mention any of these teams or drivers by name.
Nick Hutchins, the championship winning crew chief for driver Jake Crum on the UARA-STARS tour this season has found himself looking on the outside in as our very own silly season plays out. Hutchins, who split with Team Crum racing after winning the championship this season was expecting to have a job with another LMSC team, but financial issues with the teams sponsor has kept them from being able to hire him for this season. Hutchins will likely be a hot property the closer we get to the 2009 season as he is highly credited with helping to mold Crum into the championship racer he became this season.
Hutchins however isn’t the only top shelf crew chief that finds himself on the market here as the 2009 season continues to approach. David Mercer brother of Hickory Motor Speedway
driver, Andy Mercer found himself out of a job soon after the checkered flag fell on the Seneca 400 at Myrtle Beach Speedway as he was released from Lucas Ransone Racing. Ransone’s team already had a commitment to another crew chief for the 2009 season and despite the success that Mercer and Ransone had together the two had to split.
Currently Dexter Canipe, Sr. hasn’t landed with anyone for next season after his driver in 2008, Todd Goble has decided to quit racing atleast for the time being. Canipe served as crew chief for UARA-STARS Rookie of the Year contender, Corey LaJoie in the series finale at Concord as well as the Seneca 400 at Myrtle Beach Speedway. Canipe, who worked with Roger Lee Newton at season’s end in the shop at Newton Racing looked to be headed to a full-time position with the Newton’s, but as of now hasn’t landed with anyone for 2009. Canipe is rumored to be positioned with a Limited team at Hickory for the 2009 season, but we have been unable to confirm his employment.
Modifieds at Bristol Motor Speedway … The traditional USAR Hooters Pro-Cup Series date on Wednesday, August 19th at the famed Bristol Motor Speedway was much speculated as a new date on the UARA-STARS Series schedule, but a week or so ago it was announced that the race would go to the NASCAR Whelen and Whelen Southern Modifieds in a combination event like the Martinsville NASCAR Modified race which will continue its place on the schedule. Many still believe that the UARA-STARS Series will be headed to Bristol in the remaining TBA date, but we are unable to confirm that as of press time.
Jake Crum could be headed to the ARCA Remax Series in 2009 for a Seven race program if sponsorship money can be obtained. Crum also expects to run atleast a handful if not all the UARA-STARS series races, where he won the championship this past season. Team Crum Racing is hoping to have some announcements soon on what the 2009 season will look like.
Wade Day, a former NASCAR Regional Champion will be on the sidelines for most of the 2009 season as he has accepted a crew chief job with 13 year-old, Dylan Presnell of Sevierville, TN. Day has moved to Sevierville recently and has begun testing with the young Allison Legacy Series driver in a Late Model Stock Car. Presnell is expected to run for the Melling Select Rookie of the Year in 2009 and will begin testing a little more in Georgia during the month of January to get ready for the March 14th season opener at Hickory Motor Speedway. Day hopes to run a Late Model Stock Car part time this season in the same car he attempted to make the Bailey’s 300 in. RACE22.com is planning on bringing you much more on this “rookie” Late Model Stock Car driver as well as his very accomplished crew chief later this month as well as a piece on another driver looking to move up to Late Model Stock Cars very soon.