PLUG PULLED ON JOANIDES' SUPER LATE MODEL!
Toyota Speedway will have a first time Super Late Model Champion in 2010
as the plug is pulled on 2 time defending champion, Nick Joanides’ Super Late Model program.
one week prior to the start of the 2010 racing season, the J&M
Racing team had not secured sponsorship and it appeared they would not
be racing. Team owner, Loyd McGhee, scraped together enough funding at
the last minute to compete in three races.
winning championships in both the ACDelco Super Late Model and Auto Club
Late Model in 2009, they had to decide which series they wanted to focus
on. Ultimately their real motivation for 2010 was to chase a National
championship after falling just short last year, which would mean
running the Super Late Model. Either way, more sponsorship had to be
found to go beyond three races.
National points are determined primarily based on overall car counts, so
to win a National title, the track has to have at least 20 cars in each
race, since points are scored based on the number of cars in the field.
Anything less than 20 cars means a loss of points, regardless of
just 20 cars on opening night, uncertainty surrounded the Super Late
Model series. Since car counts typically drop from opening night, the
team opted to run the first two events in both divisions before making a
final decision and hope that they could find sponsorship to continue.
succeeded in securing sponsorship last week. The funding would allow
them to either compete in the entire Late Model Series or just over half
of the Super Late Model series. If they chose they Super Late, they
would have to hope more sponsorship could be found to finish out the
won the opening night Super Late Model race with a full 20-car field,
scoring maximum national points. However the second race drew just 14
cars. While Joanides won that race too, he lost 12 points due to the
lack of a full field. With this car count, a National title will not be
possible. Car count was the only reason Joanides did not win the
National title last year as his results of 13 wins and 6 second place
finishes were by far the best in the nation. However due to smaller than
full fields, he did not receive maximum points every week and ultimately
ended up in third.
year, the maximum field was set at 23 cars, however Nascar realized that
many tracks were suffering from the down economy and few were able to
reach that number on a weekly basis. For 2010, the number was reduced to
20 cars. Nascar informed Joanides that if that figure been in place for
2009, he would have won the title.
four races already in the books, three with 14 car fields, all drivers
in the division have already lost a total of 36 national points due to
the car count. With the national point race always extremely close, even
if the field suddenly jumped back up to 20 cars by the next event, that
loss is likely already too much to overcome.
the second race had only 14 cars, the team decided to give it one more
week to see if more would show up for the twin events. When only 14
showed up, they had to weigh the interests of the sponsors and where
they would get their best bang for the buck. Ultimately they decided
that would be in the Late Model division.
19 cars qualifying within 2/10ths of a second at the last Late Model
event, the team determined that, with no chance at a National
Championship, the Late Model division was the best way to go. Not only
is it significantly cheaper to run, the competition level thus far has
been outstanding. Furthermore, there are also more race dates for the
sponsors to enjoy.
the 2nd through 6th place and 11 (now 12) of the
top 14 drivers in last year’s final Super Late Model standings not
returning full time in 2010, it was unanimously agreed upon that the
sponsors would much rather see tight racing in a 20+ car field and for
Super Lates appear to have taken the biggest hit in this economy, so the
Late Models are putting on a better show right now for our sponsors.
Plus we have no way of knowing where the car count will settle in the
Super Lates, so with no chance at a National title, we feel we’re
better off with a guarantee to run an entire Late Model season than just
a partial season in the Super Lates and no guarantee that we could make
it the entire season with the funding we currently have”.
commented that with he and Rip (Michels) out for the year, it leaves the
division wide open to the new young talent that has joined the series
this year. “There are some great young drivers that can really make
the division exciting this year and probably any one of six drivers
could win the championship. Just like everyone hates Jimmie Johnson
dominating the Cup series, the track probably is tired of Rip and I
winning most of the races over the past six years, so this may be a good
thing and breath new life into the division. Of the remaining top six
drivers in the current standings, none had won a race prior to the start
of the season and none of the remaining drivers have ever won a SLM
championship, so there are going to be a lot of first time winners this
year and a first time champion crowned, which has to be exciting”
team will head to Toyota Speedway for race number three in the Auto Club
Late Model this Saturday. A flat tire with six laps remaining in the
opening night event relegated Joanides to a 19th place
finish. The team quickly rebounded by winning the next race. They
currently sit eighth in points after just two of eighteen races.
“I hate that we won’t be able to run the Super Late, I really love driving those cars, but with the economy the way it is, we are fortunate to have the sponsors we do and to be racing anything at all. The late model is a great division that always puts on great races, so we should be able to give our sponsors a great show this year” said Joanides.