BY JAMES A. ELLIS
RACING AROUND – It has been a good start to the month of May for Derrick McGrew Jr.
He drove to victory Tuesday night in the Short Track Super Series 602 Sportsman “Battle of the Bullring” feature at Accord Speedway down in Ulster County. He also announced he will be making his NASCAR ARCA Menards Series East debut Saturday, May 20 at the quarter-mile asphalt Flat Rock Speedway in Michigan.
The 15-year-old Ballston Spa native will be behind the wheel of the Rise Motorsports No. 31 for the 150-lap “Dutch Boy 150” with racing slated to start at 7 p.m.
“It kind of came out of the blue,” McGrew said of the deal with Rise Motorsports. “Jeremy Connors did some racing around here. He got into marketing and did some for Rise Motorsports. Rita and Tim Goulee reached out to us through Jeremy and we were able to set up a test run for me to get my NASCAR license. Since then, I have been trying to get funding and sponsorship to put our first race together and everything seems to be going well.”
McGrew is confident and has set personal goals for his first ARCA Series race.
“Our goal is always to run well. This is a huge opportunity that we never thought would happen especially this early in my career,” he said. “Coming from a background with not much funding, it’s a lot of me and my dad [Derrick McGrew Sr.] traveling up and down the road almost non-stop trying to get an opportunity like this. It is not something that you expect to happen.”
McGrew has found success at a young age, having won feature events in go-karts and slingshots, as well as the modified sportsman divisions. He also has track championships under his belt in the Limited Sportsman division at Fonda Speedway and Glen Ridge Motorsports Park. All before the age of 15.
Looking ahead to next Saturday’s race, McGrew said, “I am just going into the race with no pressure. I know a lot of people will be watching especially the fans who have been rooting me on and supporting me and especially our sponsors. We are just going to go out there and run a clean, smooth race, try to keep our nose clean and hopefully get a top five finish. That would be our goal and hopefully we can open some more eyes on the asphalt side of racing.”
One challenge of his upcoming opportunity will be turning 150 laps on a small asphalt track.
“The farthest we have gone in a dirt car race is 100 laps,” he said. “We had one 200-lapper I qualified for last year but unfortunately, we broke on lap 50. This is definitely a longer race. The biggest thing is to pace yourself and try to save the racecar as much as you can so you have something left at the end of the race to make your moves.”
Looking toward the future, McGrew still plans on holding on to his dirt roots, while looking to expand his ARCA race schedule.
“We are looking for more funding to help put together a four-race schedule for this season, that is our goal,” he said. “So, we are looking for more funding to help put that together.”
Before heading to Michigan, McGrew plans to race this Friday at Albany-Saratoga Speedway and Glen Ridge Motorsports Park on Sunday, with Saturday’s plans still up in the air.
The Dutch Boy 150 is scheduled to be streamed live on Floracing.com next Saturday evening.
STILL IN THE RUNNING
After the first round of fan voting, Fonda Speedway placed in the top five speedways eligible for the “Advance My Track” $50,000 grant offered by NASCAR and Advance Auto Parts.
The venerable Montgomery County fairgrounds speedway advances to the second round of voting along with Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa, Alaska Raceway Park in Palmer, Alaska, Autodrome Granby in Granby, Quebec and Florence Motor Speedway in Timmonsville, South Carolina.
One of the five venues will receive $50,000 for facility improvements, while the other tracks will receive a minimum of $5,000.
In an announcement, track promoter Brett Deyo said, “Thanks to all the voters in support of Fonda Speedway, we made it. We are thrilled to be in the running for the $50,000 grant and will definitely partner with the Montgomery County Agricultural Society to put the funds to good use.”
Deyo stated that, if the Track of Champions is awarded the top prize, restorations to the covered grandstand and an expanded Kids Club area would be top priorities.
Voting for the five finalists is now open and continues through Monday, May 15. Fans are asked to vote for Fonda Speedway at www.advancemytrack.com and can vote up to three times per day.
SEASON OPENER AT THE RIDGE FALLS TO RAIN
Sunday marked the return of the small block modifieds to weekly action at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park.
Unfortunately, with DIRTcar series hot shoes Billy Dunn, Chris Raabe, Jordan McCreadie and Lance Willix among the 75 cars checked into the pit area, The Ridge was forced to postpone its race program after all the qualifying events and the Junior Slingshot feature due to rain hitting the speedway midway through the All-Star Slingshot feature.
It was announced that, despite the rain out, all the drivers would receive their 30 show-up points with make-up features for the qualified cars being run at future dates. The idea is to run the regularly scheduled weekly feature for a class with the postponed feature run later in the program. When the scheduled is ironed out, one week there will be two 358 modified features and single features for all the rest of the divisions. Then the next week, two Pro Stock features and one regularly scheduled feature for the other divisions. The schedule will keep going until all the divisions have made up their rained-out features.
In the lone-completed feature, the Northeast Paving & Sealcoat Junior Slingshots. Bodie Marks took home the victory followed by Braxton Martin, Blake Patrick, E.J. Hatch, Addi Pangman, James Hatch, Jr., Izzy Pangman, Logan Carter, Colton White, Alex Viall, Alexandria Cosselman and Jayden Wust
Glen Ridge will celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, presenting all ladies a free flower courtesy of Natural Bridge Farms.
With a full regular race card on tap this Saturday at Fonda Speedway, sponsored by Holmes and Kugler Towing, regular grandstand admission will be $1 for adults and free for kids 11 and under.
Albany-Saratoga Speedway will host a $3,000-to-win feature event for the modifieds Friday, along with a $1,500-to-win pro stock main event and a $1,000-to-win street stock main along with the 4-cylinders, limited sportsman and 602 sportsman divisions.
Utica-Rome Speedway will host the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) Friday night along with a full regular race program.
The 358 modifieds will join a full race card Saturday night at Lebanon Valley Speedway.