HAMPTON, ON- 2014 OSCAAR Super Late Model Rookie of the Year Kelly Balson will return to the cross-province tour in 2015, and has restructured his AJK Racing operation with hopes of chasing down his first career Super Late Model victory.
“I’m incredibly excited with what we’ve been able to put together for the 2015 season,” smiles Balson from his family’s race shop in Hampton.
‘The Crowd Pleaser’ will welcome back longtime crew chief Graham Flett this coming season and has recently announced a newly formed partnership with GTA Racing Design founder Graham Annis.
“This is the furthest thing from an individual sport,” opines the multi-time Peterborough Speedway champion. “A strong team is built from the ground up, and that’s exactly what I feel we’ve been able to do with our Super Late Model program”
Both Flett and Annis spent limited time with Balson’s team in 2014, and the short track veteran hopes that having the pair on the road fulltime in 2015 will be the upgrade that his family-run outfit has been searching for.
“When I sat down at the end of the season and started to plan things out for 2015, these were the two guys at the top of my list,” explains Balson. “The number one thing we were looking for is a consistent presence in the pit area. We had a sort of revolving door of guys during our rookie season, and while that allowed us to try out a few different packages, it wasn’t the right fit. There were nights in which I felt we were just shoveling sand against the tide, and it got a little frustrating”
“Having two guys that I know and trust in the pits with me every week is going to be a game changer,” continues the 2014 Rookie of the Year. “[Graham] Annis has already put a tonne of hours into this car over the off-season, and both he and Mr. Flett are on the same page with where we want to go with our program”
“The best race nights that we had last year were when the Grahams were calling the shots,” states Balson matter-of-factly. “The more familiar they are with this program, the better we’re going to be”
A longtime client of Dan McHattie Racecars, Balson insists that while the 8-time Kawartha Speedway champion will not be working directly with the team on a week-to-week basis, his presence will still be felt in the form of McHattie’s protégé Annis.
“Dan and Annis have had a good relationship for years,” explains Balson, “and Graham has been bouncing ideas off Dan since the start of the off-season on how to approach this car”
“I’ve been a DMR guy from the word ‘go’, but Dan’s plate is awfully full right now. Between his own program, his other clients and a young family, it’s just not feasible for him to be on the road with us every week like we would love to have”
Kelly Balson will kick off his season on May 16th, when the OSCAAR Super Late Model Tour rolls into Sunset Speedway for their 2015 lid lifter.
Marketing support for the upcoming campaign is provided by London Recreational Racing, Cochrane Automotive, Dan McHattie Racecars, SL Promotions and GTA Racing Design.
By Spencer Lewis (@itsspencerlewis)