Bake Rowe’s rookie season in the Super Late Model will come to an end with his All American 400 debut at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. A long-time frontrunner with the Modifieds in the Midwest, the Michigan drivers heads south with extra confidence two months after his first-career SLM win with the ARCA/CRA Super Series at Toledo Speedway.
Before this weekend’s race, the longest race he has contested came back in June when he finished fifth in the Money in the Bank 150 at Berlin Raceway. While admitting he is a little nervous going into the biggest race of his career, he also feels the extra practice will help him ahead of Sunday’s 300-lap race.
“I’m really excited but a little bit nervous, it’s a really big step for us. The longest I’ve run is the Money in the Bank at 150 laps so we’ll be doubling down with 300. I think we’ll be good, I’m looking forward to it,” Rowe told Speed51. “We’ll have a bunch of practice between Friday and Saturday so I’m sure we’ll get the car to where we need it.”
“We’ll just have to hang on for 300 laps and see how it plays out. The Winchester 400’s a perfect example, if you finish these deals it usually leads to a pretty good finish.”
After making a couple Super Late Model appearances during Berlin Raceway’s abbreviated season in 2020, Rowe came back to the West Michigan track on a more frequent basis this season. Despite not finding victory lane at Berlin, he was always in the mix and had a top-five finish in the Money in the Bank 150 back in June.
His first-career Super Late Model win came in his first SLM start away from Berlin in September, passing Kyle Crump on the final lap to win the ARCA/CRA Super Series portion of the Glass City 200 in exciting fashion.
“I think it’s been a pretty good summer so far. Toledo was our first race with the Super at anywhere but Berlin, so I was super excited to be able to rattle off a big win there. I’ve felt like we’ve had speed to win at Berlin. We’ve had the speed to get it done over there, it hasn’t been the best car but it’s been a top-three car every night. We were happy with that but we still have to find a little bit more over there.
"I think all in all, I’ve only got seven Late Model races under my belt and I’ve been really happy with the runs we’ve had. We’re learning a lot trying to soak everything in as it comes. The Toledo win definitely gives us extra pep in our step but every time we go somewhere new, we have to go and keep our head on straight and stay focused."
While running the Super Late Model at Berlin throughout the year, Rowe also made time to get back in the Modified. He pocketed $10,000 in the Hot Shoe 100 at Springport Mid-Michigan Speedway for the second straight year, matching his win in the race in 2019 at Kinross Speedpark.
While the longest Modified races in the Midwest are just 100 laps, Rowe believes his experience with the smaller tire helped him with getting acclimated to the Super Late Model and has helped smooth the transition to a new car.
“I think the Modified taught me a lot about running the longer shows in general. We only run maybe three or four 100-lap shows a year with the Modified but it’s big horsepower and a really small tire so it’s a big game of tire conservation and being smart about when to use up a little bit more tire. I think that’s really helped me with the big tire stuff and the Late Model. It’s been less of a transition than I imagined it to be, truthfully. The Late Model stuff’s been tame compared to the Modified stuff I’ve been able to do.”
The 2022 plans for Rowe include more Super Late Model seat time and a potential run at the SLM track championship at Berlin Raceway, along with starts in the ARCA/CRA Super Series and ARCA Midwest Tour. As for the All American 400, the goal is to finish all 300 laps and leave Nashville with a good finish.
“Finishing all 300 laps and on the lead lap would be awesome. I try not to set big goals going into the weekend and getting too wound up about them, just take it lap by lap. I think even after first practice we’ll have a good idea as to where to set our goals for the rest of the weekend. If we can have a calm, clean race I’m pretty confident we’ll be pretty happy with our day once everything settles down.”
Race fans can see the All American 400 by securing tickets now for All American 400 weekend at https://nashvillefairgroundsspeedway.racing. Fans unable to attend the event in-person will be able to watch live on Speed51.TV.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo