Over two dozen CARS Response Energy Late Model Stock Car Tour teams arrived at Tri-County Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon eager to get their 2018 season started on a positive note. Drivers such as Late Model veterans Deac McCaskill and Tommy Lemons Jr., as well as rookies like Sam Mayer and Grayson Cullather were all able to take time around the half-mile short track as they prepared to compete for the series-record payout of $10,000 on March 10th.
Denver, North Carolina native Ryan Repko was also present for the CARS Response Energy Tour Media Day test and was looking to gain valuable experience among the veterans as he prepared for his first career start at Tri-County. It would not take long for Repko to establish himself as one of the early favorites for Saturday’s Do The Dew 150, as he would lay down a lap of 16.313 late in the afternoon, which ended up being the fastest time set by any driver during the entire test session.
Repko is eagerly looking forward to returning to Tri-County to capitalize on his momentum from the test and added that his team has already started making adjustments to his #14 RW Race Engines Late Model in order to improve its speed. Repko praised his team for the hard work they put into his car over the offseason and firmly believes that he will be among the contenders on Saturday afternoon.
“I was honestly expecting to have a fast car,” Repko said. “Reynolds Racing Chassis have really stepped up their program. We brought on Philip Morris, and it’s really turned into a Late Model powerhouse, and I’m really thankful to be a part of that team. We’ve got some really great guys, and I think we got the best of everything right now.”
Repko is coming off an eventful 2017 season that saw him expand upon his racing schedule, which included more Late Model starts, as well as one ARCA start for Mason Mitchell at Madison International Speedway. Repko immediately found success in the CARS Response Energy LMSC Tour, as he won the pole in his first 2017 appearance at Anderson Motor Speedway, and managed to finish in the Top 10 in all five of his starts, completing all but four laps.
Despite a strong showing in most of his appearances, the 2017 season did not come without challenges for Repko. After coming in ninth in his first ValleyStar Credit Union 300 the year before, Repko finished in 37th in his second appearance after encountering mechanical issues at Lap 42. Repko was also forced to withdraw from his first attempt in the Myrtle Beach 400 after his primary car was destroyed in the opening laps of a race at Myrtle Beach on October 21st.
Repko admitted that in the middle of a strong 2017 season was a lot of bad luck that his team was unable to shake, but added that he is more than ready to apply what he learned from last season into 2018, with the overall goal being to deliver several Late Model victories for Reynolds Racing Chassis.
“Last season definitely could have gone better,” Repko said. “We always seemed to have speed, but we were always at the wrong place at the wrong time. We would just get caught up in somebody else’s mess, or something would just go wrong that prevented us from winning the race. The season went well, but it could have ended better.”
The 2018 season promises to be another busy one for Repko, as he plans to compete in several big Late Model races along the east coast, which includes in an expanded schedule in the CARS Response Energy LMSC Tour. However, Repko declined to be a participant in the series’ inaugural Touring 12 program due to scheduling conflicts that have yet to be announced by him.
As for the Do the Dew 150, Repko remains unsure on how to approach the race, as it will consist of the largest car count that he has raced against since the 2017 ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville. However, Repko stated that he is happy that he has an opportunity to race in the prestigious event that the CARS Response Energy Tour has put together, and hopes that he will be in a position to win the race as it winds down.
“Every time I go into a race with a plan, it never works out the way I wanted it to,” Repko said. “Things usually don’t happen the way you expect, but either way, I think we’re going to be a part of something special. You just don’t see huge races like this very often anymore, and I am just pumped up to be a part of it.”
Repko will be one of 36 Late Model drivers attempting to make the 28-car starting grid in order to have a chance at the $10,000 grand prize at the end of the Do the Dew 150. Among the drivers that Repko will have to contest with throughout the day include former ValleyStar Credit Union 300 winners Lee Pulliam, Timothy Peters and Tommy Lemons Jr., as well as defending CARS Response Energy LMSC Tour champion and two-time Do the Dew 150 winner Josh Berry.