HAMPTON, ON- After a career-best runner-up finish in the opening round of the OSCAAR Super Late Model Tour season during Sunset Speedway’s ‘Spring Velocity’ on May 17th, tour sophomore Kelly Balson is ready for a return to the Innisfil, ON oval on June 6th.
“It was a rewarding feeling to get a podium finish at Sunset,” says Balson of his June 6th outing. “Sunset has been a sort of stone in our shoe for the last year. I really felt like we were over the hump when we finished 5th at the Biederman [Memorial] last June. Unfortunately, we regressed in our next two Sunset starts and struggled worse than ever. So, we really didn’t know where we were headed with our Sunset program this season”
“I was elated with our result at the Spring Velocity,” continues Balson. “As well as this car performed, I truly feel like we’ve figured this place out. Now, we’re headed in the right direction and can continue our improvement”
Despite his runner-up performance, Balson discovered a broken left front shock in post-race technical inspection that may have hindered his car’s handling in the 50-lap event.
“All afternoon, [Crew Chief] Graham Annis kept telling me he thought something was wrong with the left front shock,” explains Balson. “I just shrugged it off. I couldn’t really feel any difference in the way the car handled in practice, so I opted to just push on and do what we could to make it work”
“As the race wore on though, the car developed a tight condition in the center and was awfully loose coming off the corner,” continues ‘The Crowd Pleaser’. “I’m not sure how much of that can be attributed to the broken shock, but I look forward to seeing if we can lock down our handling a little more now that the shock problem has been fixed”
The Hampton, ON veteran is forthcoming when asked about his thoughts entering the event, smiling as he explains just how different the 2015 season already feels.
“We’re feeling better coming into Sunset than we’ve ever felt entering any speedway on this tour. Everything just feels far more stable than it did in 2014. Last year, we were chasing everything – and were forced to make huge changes in between races. Now, we have a solid base to work from and are enjoying the luxury of making small changes and adjustments”
“I’ve gone from losing sleep in the days before and after an event, to feeling clear, calm and confident,” adds Balson.
As he continues his partnership with Annis, Balson notes that the changes made to the program have not been exclusive to the car’s setup.
“Bouncing ideas off of Graham has led to me actually tweaking my driving style a little,” says the 6-time Peterborough Speedway champion. “For as long as I can remember, not matter what I seemed to be racing, I’ve always tried to drive the car into the corner as hard as possible and get out fast. However, during practice day at Sunset, Graham suggested backing up the corner a little and rolling the center”
“We tried it during the season opener, and it seemed to work,” smiles Balson. “So, we’re going to keep trying it”
“Last year beat me up. I felt like I was banging my head against the wall trying to compete against the bigger-budget teams on this tour. Now, we’re making gains every time we hit the track and there’s a whole new energy surrounding our program. I’m loving the stability that our team has right now, and I’m hoping to keep things rolling at Sunset this weekend.”
Tickets can be purchased for Saturday’s event online at www.SunsetSpeedway.ca.
Marketing support for Kelly Balson’s sophomore tour campaign is provided by London Recreational Racing, Cochrane Automotive, Brandon’s Landscapes, Castrol Edge, Bennett Chevrolet of Cambridge and GTA Racing Design.
By Spencer Lewis (@itsspencerlewis)