Amber Slagle, pictured at Southern National Motorsports Park prior to the 2018 Thanksgiving Classic. (Andy Marquis photo)

Amber Slagle struggled in last year’s Thanksgiving Classic, but she comes into the Limited Late Model portion of the 19th running of the Thanksgiving Classic on Saturday with confidence after strong performances earlier this season.

Slagle, 23, from Waterford, Michigan, is a newcomer on the Late Model scene in the Southeast.  She spent much of her life in the Midwest but recently moved to Mooresville to work inside the industry.  Because of the hectic schedule in NASCAR racing, Slagle does not get the opportunity to race very often – but she tries to make the most of it when she can.

“I work for Bruce Cook and I work on the K&N side for Visconti Motorsports,” Slagle told Race22.  “We work with them out of our shop and then we also do a lot of Truck stuff with Chad Finley Racing in the 42 truck.  That keeps me extremely busy, and then I get to go race the Late Model on our off weekend.  That’s our fun away from work, where we relax and enjoy ourselves doing that.”

Slagle struggled in last year’s Thanksgiving Classic – finishing 17th laps down in the race, which was only her second start in a Limited Late Model in the Carolinas.  Since then, she has had top-10 finishes at Motor Mile Speedway and a runner-up finish recently at Orange County Speedway.  Those runs have given her confidence that she can have a strong showing on Saturday night.

“Really, we struggled last year,” Slagle explained.  “A couple of mistakes on my part that I don’t plan to make this year.  I believe I’ve grown as a driver.  I’ve learned a lot more in those three races I ran this year.  I feel I’ve grown more as a driver.  My expectations, I would really like another top-3 after coming home with a 2nd just over a month ago.  I feel more eager to get a win and I feel like it’s right around the corner with how much I’ve learned this year driving this car.”

Slagle is a former Super Stock champion at Owosso Speedway in Michigan and has won in a Late Model at Springport Mid-Michigan Speedway.  She is also a former competitor in the JEGS CRA All-Stars Tour with a best finish of 14th, a result she recorded at Salem Speedway in 2014 and duplicated at Springport the following year.  When she moved south in 2018, she was not sure she would get to race in a Late Model again – until Bruce Cook gave her the opportunity to race in his Limited Late Model.

“I’ve been racing since I was seven,” Slagle said.  “I moved down here in 2018, the beginning of it, and then that’s when my plans moving down here were just to work in the industry because money got so tight and racing’s such an expensive sport and it’s so hard to find sponsorships.  I got lucky enough with Bruce that he had a Late Model and he’s letting me run that and let me chase my dreams of being a racecar driver and working on them at the same time.”

Slagle noted that Bruce Cook is the car owner, crew chief, and spotter on her Limited Late Model.  Cook is the crew chief for Visconti Motorsports in the ARCA East Series (formerly called the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East) and for Chad Finley Racing in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.

During the week, Slagle predominantly works in the fab shop with Visconti Motorsports and Bruce Cook.

“I do a little bit of everything,” Slagle commented.  “With us being such a small team, there’s only three full-time employees and Bruce, so we all do what’s needed around the shop.  What I’m good at is fab.  I love doing crush panels.  I’ve become good at that.  Interior, I’m so tiny, it’s so easy for me to move around and do seats.  Then I also do all the vinyl, so all our wraps and decals, I take care of all of that.”

While her immediate sights are set on Saturday’s 75-lap Limited Late Model feature at the Solid Rock Carriers Thanksgiving Classic, she also plans to race part-time once again in 2019.  Slagle hopes to return to Motor Mile Speedway while also racing at Ace Speedway and Carteret County Speedway.

“I still plan to be in this Late Model and still try to race that as much as I can on off weekends when there’s funding there for me to do it,” Slagle stated.  “Hopefully, I’d like to do another 4-6 races, same as this year, carry the momentum over and try to get that win that’s so close.”

Saturday’s feature races, which include Late Model Stock Cars, Limited Late Models, and Super Late Models, will go green at 3:15pm.