Saturday, March 8, 2014
Reid Lanpher is ready for Round 2.
The 14-year-old Manchester driver will return to Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, N.C., this weekend to compete in a pair of 100-lap Late Model features.
These are the second of 12 sets races in the Dirty Dozen Cup. Lanpher will drive the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, which NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. owns.
Lanpher posted consecutive top-12 finishes in his JRM debut two weeks ago, also at Southern National.
"It was awesome," Lanpher said. "I had never qualified before so I was a little nervous, but it went really well. There were 27 cars so we were very pleased. It was cool to race against that kind of competition. Now we'll do the same thing this weekend."
Lanpher finished 11th in the first of two 125-lap races March 2. He qualified 14th and got to as high as ninth before a late restart pushed him back. Lanpher passed a handful of cars late in the second feature to finish 12th.
"We didn't have a lot of expectations," Lanpher said. "We just wanted to go down, get some seat time, and see what we could do."
Lanpher flies out today and will test Friday in advance of Saturday's races. Qualifying begins at 12:15 p.m. Saturday, followed by the races at 2 p.m.
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A new sound system is in place but some touch-up work remains to be done at Wiscasset Speedway. The snow-covered track also needs some attention and upgrading the scoring system is in the works as well.
Yes, there is plenty to do at track before its grand re-opening April 6.
"We're sprucing the place up," said Vanessa Jordan, a Kingfield native who co-owns the track with her husband, Richard. "We're really just starting to get in there. We need some warm weather to get rid of the snow."
The Jordans purchased the track on West Alna Road at auction for $130,000 last July. They restored the original name -- Wiscasset Speedway -- and planned a Fall Fury race in October, which drew a sizable field of cars.
Now, the Jordans plan to open in about three weeks.
"We're getting ready," Vanessa Jordan said.
The track will host races primarily on Saturdays. It will feature eight regular racing divisions, although the Jordans won't run all of them each weekend.
Instead, four will alternate weekends. Point standings also won't be kept this season.
"We just want to see what the numbers will be like," Jordan said. "We want to see what works."
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The annual TD Bank 250, the most prestigious race in the state, is once again changing its admission rules. The field will now be open to Super Late Models for the first time since 2006.
New OPS owner Tom Mayberry of Naples, the founder and owner of the Pro All Stars Series, will allow Super Late Models to race the annual 250 for the first time since 2006.
Former owner Bill Ryan had previously allowed just Late Models -- which feature smaller tires and motors.
The switch will allow PASS drivers to compete, including Farmingdale native Johnny Clark.
"We built a brand new car," said Clark, who was fourth in PASS North last season. Having the Oxford 250 back, that was a big reason. There's a lot of money at stake. The other reason we decided to build a new car is that we needed to start with something fresh."
The TD Bank 250 pays out $25,000 to the winner, with the possibility to earn more.
"We're just plugging away," Clark said.
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The green flag drops on PASS North on April 21 at Oxford Plains Speedway.
It can't come soon enough for Farmington native Cassius Clark, who finished second in points last season while driving full time for Hight Motorsports.
"We made a bunch of changes over the winter," said Clark, whose three victories were the most of any PASS North driver last season. "We put a new body on it and we'll get a new motor in it this week. Once we do that, we'll be pretty much ready to go."
Clark had nine top-five finishes in 15 starts last season. He led the points standings for much of the way until Travis Benjamin caught him late to win the title.
Bill Stewart -- 621-5640