Super Late Models

ARCA/CRA Super Series stars excited for Bristol opportunity

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Opinions may be split throughout the motorsports world, but the Champion Racing Association’s (CRA) biggest stars have just one thing to say regarding the upcoming Short Track U.S. Nationals.

Bring on Bristol.

Asked about their thoughts over the upcoming race weekend – which will pair drivers from the ARCA/CRA Super Series, CARS Super Late Model Tour and the Southern Super Series (SSS) at the famed Bristol Motor Speedway, the CRA garage responded with optimism and excitement.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” 2016 championship runner-up Dalton Armstrong told Short Track Scene.  “Bristol’s a great facility, and it’s a big race. There are a lot of short track drivers that have never gotten the opportunity to go there, and I think it’s a pretty cool that we’re getting to go Bristol.

“It’s really fast. I don’t really know what to expect with the racing, but there are going to be a lot of cars. I think it’s going to be a great event that everyone should come out and watch.”

Having already secured his bid in the event with a win in the Super Late Model feature at Toledo Speedway, veteran Brian Campbell noted a few potential pitfalls, but felt the event would be positive overall.

“I think the event’s going to be great for short-track racing,” Campbell said. “I think the race itself is going to be good. There’s going to be a lot of unknowns with how we get through the day. I think that’s going to be the most difficult part of it – how many different cars, practice times and tech times there’ll be.

“The logistics of the racetrack – getting to-and-from – may be challenging. But once we get on-track, it’ll be a great race.”

Returning to the series amid an off weekend for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, defending champion Cody Coughlin noted the event’s promise and opportunity for those that may never reach the NASCAR ranks.

“We’re not going to go, but it’ll be cool for people who don’t have to opportunity to go on a track like that to experience the facility’s history,” Coughlin said. “It should be special. I hope it’s a good show for everybody.”

The greatest praise of all came from current points leader John VanDoorn. Shortly after clinching his position in the Bristol field with a win at Anderson Speedway, VanDoorn praised the race track for all of its history and prestige.

“Bristol, for short-trackers, is like the Daytona 500,” VanDoorn told Short Track Scene. “Anybody who grew up racing short tracks, that’s the race you want to race. As a driver, the Bristol Night Race is like the race, so to be able to be a late model driver and go drive at Bristol is a dream come true.”

The optimism from the CRA paddock stands in stark contrast to some of the opinions from drivers competing under other sanctioning bodies. While announced to considerable fanfare, the upcoming weekend at ‘The Last Great Coliseum’ has been met with notable criticism during the months leading up to the event.

Late model ace Bubba Pollard, a Southern Super Series champion, was among the event’s biggest critics, noting his displeasure in a lengthy Twitter rant that yielded responses from veteran David Stremme and man others after the first Hoosier Tire test at the facility ended with a crash from defending SSS champion Donnie Wilson.

Ty Majeski, one of late model racing’s biggest names who intends to skip the race, also chimed in on the incident.

Kentucky native Josh Brock – one of the few drivers on the entry list with experience at Bristol – dismissed fear about tire issues.

“I think it’s fine,” Brock said. “We’ll know more after testing, but we’re happy with it. The way we look at it, we don’t have control of the tires, so whatever they tell us to run, we’ll run. And we’ll still be fast.”

Questioned about the expected high attrition rate on the half-mile oval, Brock noted that CRA runs on similar racing surfaces in the midwest.

“I’m excited for it, “ Brock said. “I’ve been lucky enough to race at Bristol twice in a street stock, and I love it. I know a lot of people are skeptical, but it ain’t no different than going to Salem (Speedway) or Winchester (Speedway), or going to the Snowball Derby and wrecking every car in the heat races.”

Super Late Model drivers choosing to contest this weekend’s festivities at Bristol will get their opportunity to prove the event’s worth in a 100-lap feature on May 21. Tickets are still available on Bristol’s website. Fans that can’t make it to the inaugural event also have the option to purchase a pay-per-view broadcast from Speed51.com.

About Aaron Bearden

Aaron Bearden is a contributing writer for Short Track Scene. Having grown up watching NASCAR and IndyCar, Bearden began following short track racing during his high school years before starting a blog about racing in college. A writer for Frontstretch and Motorsports Tribune, Bearden also covers NASCAR, IndyCar and other forms of open wheel racing.

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