BARRIE, ON- ‘The Crowd Pleaser’ Kelly Balson earned the first podium finish of his OSCAAR Super Late Model career on June 14th, recovering from a frustrating qualifying effort to launch the most impressive outing of his 2014 season.
“Our night ended up changing for the better shortly after qualifying”, smiled Balson post-race. “During the heat races, this car was borderline un-drivable. I was not a happy customer. At one point, I actually remember suggesting we burn the car as an alternative to having to race it”
“Any adjustments we seemed to make through the afternoon weren’t having any affect, so we took a big swing before the feature”, continued Balson. “We brought the sway bar up to the point in which we couldn’t adjust it any further and took an insane amount of wedge out of the car. After that, the car seemed to wake right up”
Starting in the 12th position, the multi-time Peterborough Speedway champion had his work cut out for him, as he found himself deep in traffic through the early portion of the 50-lap event.
“It was tough to get a feel for just how good the car was when we were racing in traffic”, explained Balson. “It wasn’t until the field strung out a little bit that I noticed the marked improvement”
“Once we pulled inside the top-10 and continued to gain ground, I realized we had a real good chance at a top-5 finish”
The recovery was a pleasant surprise for Balson, who initially took to the track for the feature with the simple goal of logging laps in his pursuit of the Rookie of the Year title.
“After fighting with a car that cornered like a bus on wet pavement all afternoon, then taking a gigantic swing in terms of setup, we weren’t entirely sure what we were going to have for the feature”, offered Balson in a moment of quintessential honesty.
“We were pleasantly surprised when the car started to come around. It’s still far from perfect, and we still believe this car has a lot left in it, but we’re better than we were last time out and that’s what matters”
For Balson, improvement as a competitor is far more important than an extra position in the final rundown.
“I’m focused on my on-track performance far more than I am the results on the leader board”, explained the freshman. “I would much sooner come home 9th with a well handling car than luck into a 7th place finish due to attrition. Any spot we make up on the speedway, I want to have earned it”
Kelly Balson and team will shift gears this weekend, focusing on teammate Amanda Connolly’s Ltd. Late Model effort at Peterborough Speedway, before returning to OSCAAR competition on June 28th & 29th for the Don Biederman Memorial at Sunset Speedway.
“It’ll be nice to get back helping Amanda this weekend”, said Balson. “We get to welcome back [Crew Chief] Graham Flett who has been away with the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, and see how much speed we can get out of our Limited Late Model program”
Kelly Balson’s third straight ‘Rookie of the Race’ award was made possible thanks to London Recreational, Dan McHattie Racecars and Cochrane Automotive.
By Spencer Lewis (@itsspencerlewis)