LUCAMA, NC – Andrew Grady and Jonathan Findley might be teammates but, on Saturday night, teamwork goes out the window.
The two drivers, who race in Late Models prepared by Mike Darne Racing, set tied atop the championship standings heading into twin races on Saturday night. Both drivers have their eyes deadlocked on each other with their sights set on the championship trophy.
While they are tied atop the standings, it's the 21-year-old Andrew Grady from Knightdale, North Carolina who comes in with an edge – holding the tiebreaker by virtue of his four wins this season, more than any other driver.
“This is the one I really want,” Grady said. “Last year, we should have won but didn't with getting disqualified one race for pistons. This year has been a solid year for us. We had that one bad race where got wrecked twice and finished 12th. If we hadn't had that bad run, we would have the championship locked up.”
While Grady, who is the son to veteran racer Tony Grady, felt he should have won the championship last year, his focus is on the present, on the here and now. This is a championship he has dreamed of winning his entire life.
“Since I was three years old, I wanted this one,” Grady remarked. “My goal since I was three has been to win a Late Model track championship. That's something my dad's had tons of big wins, won lots of races but never won a Late Model title and it's something I always wanted to do. To get it at SNMP would be a childhood dream come true. It would be epic. For me, my family and my sister who is my number one fan.”
While Grady has had the most success on track this year, momentum is on the side of 16-year-old Jonathan Findley from Bristow, Virginia. Findley's three victories have all come in the last two months, with two of those coming in the most recent race back on August 29th.
Findley's priority on Saturday is on beating Andrew Grady two more times.
“I think we have a shot at it,” Findley said. “I mean, it will be tough. Andrew will be tough. He'll come back better and stronger than we were last time. He's my main priority to beat. I'm not worried about winning but beating him instead. I think we have a shot at two wins and a championship.”
Entering the 2015 season, Findley did not even anticipate challenging for the championship and now he finds himself in an epic struggle to hoist the championship trophy.
“We definitely weren't thinking championship but it started to take over mid-season so we went ahead and stuck with it.” Findley explained. “It would mean everything for me just for Mike Darne and Dennis Brock. They've put all their effort in the car for me to be able to compete for the championship.”
Grady knows his mission as well – defend the top stop, hold back Findley and win the title.
“Jonathan was reallly strong last weekend but he put it on us bad,” Grady commented. “Our car was junk. I don't know what we missed. We'll get it dialed in. They better come ready because that 1 car is going to be back where it should be.”
Of course, the easiest way to ensure championship glory is with two victories on Saturday. Grady will have his work cut out for him, as will Findley, with Kate Dallenbach and Chris Chapman leading a contingent of hard chargers who come with only intentions of winning.
“I'm going in with the mindset to win both races,” Grady stated. “If I win both races, there's no question that we won the championship. I have to be smart, cautiously aggressive, pick and choopse our battles but if there's an opportunity to win the race, I'm going to go for it hands down.”
The two gladiators will fight for the championship on Saturday night, September 12th as part of the WHELEN 9/11 Tribute at Southern National Motorsports Park. The WHELEN 9/11 Tribute also features racing for the Chargers, U-CARs, Legends, Bandoleros, Hampton Road Karting Club Champ Karts and the Southern Ground Pounders Vintage Racing Club.
Tickets for Saturday night's races are $15 for adults, $5 for kids ages 6-12 and kids five and under admitted free. Gates open at 3pm, racing starts at 7pm.
For more information about Southern National Motorsports Park, check out SNMP’s website at www.snmpark.com, “like” Southern National Motorsports Park on Facebook or “follow” @SNM_Park on Twitter.