With a new rules package blending the Late Model and Limited Late Model divisions at Southern National Motorsports Park, many names stand out as viable contenders in Saturday’s season opening race and in the championship chase. Three of those drivers are Andrew Grady, Rusty Daniels and Bradley McCaskill.
While neither Andrew Grady nor Rusty Daniels won the Limited Late Model division championship last season, the two drivers accounted for nine combined wins in the division at Southern National Motorsports Park. As for Bradley McCaskill, seven wins in 2013 at Southern National along with five wins at various track last season has everybody eyeing him.
21-year-old Andrew Grady from Knightdale, North Carolina is the son of Late Model Stock Car veteran Tony Grady. Last season, he scored five of his seven wins at Southern National making him the winningest driver in the Limited Late Model division. That success last season has him looking ahead to this season with expectations of more wins and a track championship.
“As much success as we had last year, coming off a stellar year, I expect to have a better year,” Grady said with confidence. “I expect to win more races. I don’t think they can deny us a championship this year.”
After his five wins at Southern National last season along with victories at Wake County Speedway in Raleigh, North Carolina and a strong performance in the Thanksgiving All-Star Classic, Grady knows he is the driver everybody wants to beat. It’s no pressure to him though. He is looking forward to the challenge.
“I like the pressure and knowing everyone expects me to win,” Grady remarked. “It makes me want to show up to the racetrack and dominate even more. I want five or more wins. Five or less and I’ll consider that a bad season. If you don’t win the championship: That would be a severe disappointment, like detrimental. That would be killer, it would kill me.”
25-year-old Bradley McCaskill from Knightdale, North Carolina has already raced at Southern National Motorsports Park once this season when he competed in the inaugural race for the CARS Tour. Saturday’s race will be McCaskill’s first start in a regular season race at Southern National Motorsports Park in over year. While he will make a few more appearances in the CARS Tour, McCaskill plans to race at Southern National frequently in 2015.
Like most racing at Southern National, he knows he will be in pursuit of Grady.
“It seems like the whole Grady family has a hold on the place but we’ll test Friday and see how we can do,” McCaskill said. “Grady’s going to be the man to beat. He’ll be the one to put up a challenge. I think the rules package is really open this year as far as a lot of different combinations and the first race will tell what the way to go is. There are so many different packages. The same time, it’s tough combining the divisions.”
McCaskill is the cousin of four-time track champion Deac McCaskill and the owner of Grafix Unlimited, a graphics design company in Raleigh, North Carolina that designs the wraps many of the competitors use in Late Model racing as well as wraps on a handful of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racecars. While that job keeps him plenty busy, he’s always looking forward to the next race.
“I’d like to run the Jerry Moody Memorial [on April 26th],” McCaskill remarked. “I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t. I have plans of running it. We’re a low-buck team. We tear it up, we tear it up. If we can keep it clean, we’ll be there. After the CARS race, I didn’t get a chance to go to the shop until this weekend. It’s our busy time of the year. We have to miss a race every now and then to keep customers happy and keep food on my table.”
While McCaskill has set his sights on Grady, 41-year-old Rusty Daniels from Alliance, North Carolina has no plans to chase Grady. Whenever Daniels is on the track, fans can expect excitement. The veteran racer’s speed and aggression make him tough to beat anytime he races and he expects Grady to be chasing him as he pursues the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) North Carolina State Championship.
“I think we have a shot to win the title,” Daniels, who will travel between Southern National and other nearby tracks, commented. “We’re going to do our very best to win the track championship. We’re going after both. We have to see how we shake out. All I can say, we’ll see how things work out. I like Grady but we’re not going to lie down, I can assure you of that.”
While Grady, McCaskill and Daniels enter the season as the pre-season favorites to win races and contend for a championship, other drivers, such as Gerald Benton, Michael Fose, Tommy Peregoy, JD Eversole and others could stand in their way of victory lane on Saturday night.
The green flag will fly on the 20th season of racing at Southern National Motorsports Park with the Spring BreakOut on Saturday night, April 11th. Gates open at 6pm, qualifying starts at 6:25pm and racing begins at 7:15pm.
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