HAMPTON, ON- With just two Super Late Model races under his belt, OSCAAR Rookie of the Year contender Kelly Balson has spent his week preparing for what may be the most demanding and taxing race of the 2014 schedule.
“I don’t really know what to anticipate, when it comes to Barrie”, admits Balson , “it’s been quite a while since I’ve laid down some quality laps there. I haven’t really been able to get a feel for the track.”
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“I had some success there early in my career, in the Challenger division”, continues ‘The Crowd Pleaser’, “but I never really had the chance to race there much during my Late Model tenure”
Balson admits, his last visit to Barrie – at the 2013 Gary Reynolds Memorial – was uneventful at best, after breaking a sway bar mount early in practice.
“Trying to find the quick way around Barrie with a broken sway bar mount was one of the most frustrating times I’ve ever spent in a race car”, says Balson. “We didn’t catch the problem until much later in the day, after exhausting all of our efforts to make the car driveable”
“With that in mind, I’m cautiously optimistic entering this race”, expands the Hampton, ON driver. “I look forward to finding out what we can do at Barrie with the proper equipment. I hope we can get a handle on the track early on, and find a way to get our car to turn”
The former Autumn Colours Classic winner makes no bones about what he feels will win the race, when asked his strategy entering the 50-lap event.
“The driver that ends up winning this race is the one that’s able to roll the center of the corner the best”, Balson explains. “Unlike Sunset and Kawartha, Barrie has incredibly tight corners that are going to put a lot of pressure on a driver to have a good turning car. I’m not worried about getting bite off the corner, my main priority is going to be rolling through the center in order to get a proper exit”
“When the green flag drops, I think our strategy is going to be relatively simply”, continues Balson. “I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel. I’m hoping to stay in contact with the lead pack for the majority of the race, find a safe spot to knock off some laps, and be ready for a late race push”
“The front of the pack is typically where you want to be on a short track. You know the guys racing for 2nd aren’t likely to rough one another up on lap-15. We want to be in front of all the carnage, and away from anything that could take us out early. Respect is going to be key, for everybody. I don’t intend to push the issue early on, but I might be willing to show someone the nose if we have a good car late in the race”
Despite his limited experience at Barrie, Balson makes sure to close with a spatter of confidence. “I have no doubt that our program will be better than it was the last two races”, Balson explains, “Because that’s what this season is about. Forward motion and constant improvement, that’s what you’re going to see out of us this year”
“Where that improvement puts us on the final rundown remains to be seen, but we’ve had our fair share of issues and have managed a pair of respectable finishes”, continues Balson. “And sooner or later, those respectable finishes are going to turn to good finishes. We just have to put one foot in front of the other”
Round 3 of the OSCAAR Super Late Model Tour is scheduled for this Saturday, June 14th. Gate times and ticket prices can be found at www.BarrieSpeedway.com
Kelly Balson’s 2014 season is made possible thanks to London Recreational, Dan McHattie Racecars and Cochrane Automotive.
By Spencer Lewis (@itsspencerlewis)