Griffith to Start Off 2022 Season with SpeedFest DebutScott Menlen
Special from Racing America – Derek Griffith’s top-notch 2021 racing season ended with the start of a new opportunity which will run throughout 2022, running in top Pro Late Model events through the Southeast for sponsor turned car owner Tyler Porter. While their first outing in the Snowflake 100 at 5 Flags Speedway did not generate storylines, it provided Griffith, Porter, and the Louie Mechalides-led crew a springboard for the new year.
Up first, SpeedFest 2022 at Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, Georgia, where Griffith is entered for the 100-lap JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour event. With the all the focus of both driver and crew being on just the Pro Late Model effort for the January 28 & 29 race, they are looking to set a strong example before the racing schedule picks up.
“We left Pensacola and had some things that we worked on and got a little bit better. First time out with a car, you can’t complain too much with anything. We were pretty decent on the speed chart and everything went well, it’s just part of the deal not being fast out of the gate. Tyler has spent a bunch of time getting it dialed in, I think we’ll be good for Cordele,” Griffith told Racing America.
This will be the first appearance at SpeedFest and at the 3/8-mile Georgia oval for the Hudson, New Hampshire native. With many New England racing fans set to root for Griffith via the broadcast on Racing America, the #1 pick in the 2021 Short Track Draft has been spending time on Racing America to get to know the track that awaits him.
“I’ve watched a bunch of older races on Racing America, including Tullis and Nasse last year. I want to get the line down, play it from that angle. I’m not the kind of guy that takes a whole lot from another person. Not that I don’t want to, just for whatever reason I can’t get a lot of information out of someone just by explanation. I have to see the track first, then it makes sense.”
With names like Christopher Tullis, Stephen Nasse, Cody Coughlin, and Cole Williams on the entry list, the two-time PASS National champion will have his work cut out for him. But, Griffith is confident that the potential to pull off a surprise win is very much there.
“I hope so, I think after the Snowflake some rules had been adjusted and some other things. It felt like we were lacking just a little bit for it to not play out like it needed to. I think it’s a possibility, FURY is on board with Jeff Fultz working on that thing. I think it’s going to be possible to have a fast car and go out and run good. I’m a better crate engine driver than with a dry-sump motor. As long as we can get it dialed in, it’s a track that’s like what we used to, Louie is crew chiefing, I think we got a shot at it.”
Much of Griffith’s racing schedule, including those in the Porter PLM are not set in stone as of yet. However, the team is eyeing a few starts with the Pro Late Model in February during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway while Griffith concentrates on a third-straight Super Late Model title with LCM Motorsports. Griffith expects to announce a number of appearances with the Porter PLM in the coming weeks.
“We’re looking at the bigger races down there, the 50 and 100 lappers. He wants to race a bunch more too, so we’re open for it. We’re going to be racing a lot together I think.”
In 2021, Griffith’s Florida Speedweeks included a start with Venturini Motorsports in the ARCA Menards Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway. February 2022 will be back to basics, but winning a third SLM title would be anything but normal.
“Super and the Pro, that’s it. Nothing over at Daytona this year, we’ll just focusing on New Smyrna. The Super, I hope we can do it again. I’m not sure if anyone’s ever done three, I know a bunch of guys have done two. If I could ink my name as having done three, that would be pretty cool.”