Monday was load-in and tech day at North Wilkesboro Speedway ahead of the ECMD 150 Tuesday night. It served as an opportunity for drivers to take a look at the historic facility before hitting the track for practice Tuesday, many of them for the first time.
One driver arriving at North Wilkesboro for the first time is Derek Griffith. The New Hampshire driver is making his ASA STARS National Tour debut at North Wilkesboro, and had an opportunity to see the track for the first time Monday afternoon.
“This place is awesome, they’ve done a really good job cleaning this place up. I’ve never seen the racetrack, I watched a little bit of the race here last year but it’s the first time in-person seeing it. It’s got a lot of Richmond characteristics for some reason,” said Griffith. “It’s like the frontstretch narrows down to a tight one, turn two’s really sharp to a really straight exit. Three and four and drawn out and long and seems like there’s going to be no grip. I’m excited to get out there and see what we can do.”
NASCAR Cup Series star Erik Jones is another driver set to make his first start with both the series and at the track. The Michigan native has brought a new Super Late Model to North Wilkesboro for the ECMD 150.
Tuesday night’s race serves as an opportunity for Jones to get laps around North Wilkesboro before jumping into his LEGACY MOTOR CLUB No.43 for Sunday’s NASCAR All-Star Race.
“I never got to race out here, so should be fun. We have a brand-new racecar that hasn’t hit the track other than one quick test session. It’s going to be a cool race weekend for us. It’s our first time in a Super this year as well, and it’s at a pretty cool track,” Jones stated. “I came out here and watched last year for the Super and Late Model Stock race, I was wishing I was a part of that but couldn’t put a deal together. This year, I have my stuff here so it’s going to be a pretty cool day.”
Dylan Caldwell had quite the trip to North Carolina, making the journey from Nampa, ID for the ECMD 150. As he makes the trip east for the ASA STARS National Tour event, racing back home must go on.
He competed at Meridian Speedway (ID) Saturday night before flying out to North Wilkesboro. Once Tuesday night’s race is over, Caldwell heads back West for the next weekly show at Meridian this coming Saturday night.
“Our truck drivers had to drive across the country, we had the luxury of flying out yesterday so it was nice. They drove, I want to say 36 hours or something like that,” said Caldwell. “They tag teamed it for a few days and got us out here to beautiful North Wilkesboro Speedway.”
“We ran Saturday night at Meridian, and now we’re here. This next Saturday night we’ll run Meridian again. We’ve got a pretty packed month for sure.”
Three drivers also made the trip from California – Jeremy Doss and teammates Blaine Rocha and Ross Strmiska. For Rocha, it’s the second trip east of the Mississippi River for his team this season following the ASA STARS National Tour opener at Five Flags Speedway. They plan on making the most out of the trip to North Carolina, also entering the ASA STARS race at Hickory Motor Speedway next Thursday, May 25.
Luckily for him, he had the luxury of not having to drive the hauler this time.
“My truck driver took the mission this time, I drove it back when we got back from Pensacola. I’m excited to get going out here,” mentioned Rocha. “I went on a track walk a little bit ago to get an idea, I’ve done some simulator stuff. It’s going to be a good event, a lot of good cars and a lot of good drivers. The first goal is to make the show and just have fun.”
Former Big 8 Late Model Series champion Michael Bilderback is one of a handful of drivers who have laps around North Wilkesboro in the past, having taken part in “The Race” held at the facility back in 2011. For the Illinois driver, Monday was a day of re-learning North Wilkesboro as much as he can before hitting the track on Tuesday.
“Just being here at North Wilkesboro is awesome. We ran here back in 2011 when they had the big Super Late Model race back then,” Bilderback said. “I’m trying to pull the memories back from that but I think I’ve had too many Coors Lights since that. I tried to walk it, tried to learn it again. The cracks are still there, the bumps are still there, I’m ready to go.”
Stephen Nasse is another driver who has competed at North Wilkesboro in the past, with perhaps more laps around the .625 mile oval than any other driver in the field. Along with competing in last year’s Super Late Model race, he also competed in a USAR Hooters’ Pro Cup Series race at North Wilkesboro in 2010, and was the fast qualifier for “The Race” in 2011.
The Florida driver comes into the ECMD 150 after not making the field for the Joe Shear Classic on May 7. He is looking forward to Tuesday night’s race, attempting to right the ship once again.
“I didn’t really have a good run last year but I think we’ve made some progress. We struggled a couple weeks ago but we’re getting better and better. Racing’s not easy and there’s ups and downs, we’re just on one of them downward slopes right now,” said Nasse. “We’re slowly working our way back up so we’re excited.”
Single-day general admission tickets for the May 16 ASA Stars ECMD 150 are $30 and available at www.northwilkesborospeedway.com. Children six and under are admitted free. Advance parking is also available for purchase online. Fans can connect with North Wilkesboro Speedway and get the latest news regarding NASCAR All-Star week and North Wilkesboro Speedway by following on Twitter and Instagram or becoming a Facebook fan.
The ASA STARS National Tour opened the ten race, six-state schedule at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL on March 11. Georgia racer Casey Roderick won the Sunshine State 200. Ty Majeski is the most recent winner with the series, taking the win at Madison International Speedway on May 7.
The ECMD 150 will be co-sanctioned with the ASA Southern Super Series, which will be the third race of the ASA SSS season. William Byron and Casey Roderick won the first two races at New Smyrna Speedway and Five Flags Speedway.
For more information regarding the Southern Super Series, visit the series website at www.southernsuperseries.com. Follow us on Facebook at Southern Super Series, on Twitter at @SoSuperSeries, and on Instagram at @officialsouthernsuperseries.
For the full ASA STARS National Tour schedule, plus Super Late Model rules and other information, please visit the series website at starsnationaltour.com, or be sure to follow the series on social media (Facebook: STARS National Series | Twitter: @racewithstars | IG: @starsnational).
ASA STARS National Tour
The ASA STARS National Tour debuted in March of 2023 for Super Late Model racing in America. Announced last October, many of the best drivers in America will compete in the ten-race national tour with a minimum $100,000 point fund. The championship team will be guaranteed $25,000.
The ASA STARS National Tour is made up of three races from each of the regional pavement Super Late Model Series under the Track Enterprises banner; the ASA CRA Super Series, the ASA Midwest Tour and the ASA Southern Super Series.
The Team Construction Winner’s Circle program has been announced as a part of the ASA STARS National Tour for licensed drivers/teams with perfect attendance. The program provides additional financial incentives to those teams who support the Series, thanks to Team Construction.
Track Enterprises, a Racing Promotions Company based in Illinois, will operate the ASA STARS National Tour. It announced the acquisition of the CRA sanctioning body in January and followed that up with the purchase of the Midwest Tour in July. In October, Track Enterprises President, Bob Sargent announced a partnership with the Southern Super Series which set the table for the formation of the ASA STARS National Tour.