All American 400 Feels Wide Open After Practice Day
Oct 29, 2022
For much of his career as a top-level crew chief, Marcus Richmond has been a Late Model Stock guy, even when he was winning NASCAR races or the Snowball Derby.
To wit, the R&S Race Cars general manager was always looking for a reason to return to Super Late Models with greater frequency and found one in Derek Thorn and Campbell Motorsports. Thorn returns to the All-American 400 this weekend with R&S Race Cars and teammate to its full-time Late Model Stock driver Conner Jones.
The car Jones will drive is a former Campbell Motorsports FURY Thorn has driven in both the Snowball Derby and All-American 400. Meanwhile, Thorn has been tasked with driving a brand-new FURY chassis build identical to his old ride, which has given Richmond a lot of work to do this weekend.
But again, he has really missed Straight Rail cars, and is glad to be back in this arena.
"We started working with Derek and Pepperjack Kennel on the Late Model Stock side and always wanted to have like an East Coast hub," Richmond said. "When Conner and Robby came over, they wanted to do some Super Late Model racing too, and when they bought that old Campbell car, all the pieces were there.
"It's just great to work with Derek, Pepperjack Kennel and the Jones -- just great people all around."
This is the first real foray back in Super Late Models for Richmond since he won the Snowball Derby with Noah Gragson at Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2018.
"KBM had these cars figured out, and now I jump in with Derek and he's got these things figured out, so I'm just blessed to have been given two similar great programs," Richmond said. "I hope I can just help.
"It's kind of bad because I really love these cars, messing with the Supers, but our bread and butter business is the Late Model Stocks, but I like the idea of having a couple of races a year where we can fool around with these things."
And for his part, Thorn is more than glad to have him working with him on a Super since they were introduced in the lead-up to the South Boston 200 over the summer, his debut in a Late Model Stock Car.
Even though its under the R&S banner, Thorn’s Cambell Motorsports fingerprints are all over this program, as is crew chief Mike Keen, who ‘thrashed’ to get Jones’ car ready. This was important because Thorn is having to work out some new car bugs with his new FURY.
"It’s actually really important to have Conner in our old car because we can work on some things with him and have it teach us what to do with this new car," Thorn said. "But yeah, I’m just excited to work with Marcus again, great people at R&S and really enjoyed getting with them at South Boston and wanted to do it again kind of on our own turf."
This is effectively a trial run for a big time R&S Race Cars, Campbell Motorsports and FURY Race Cars alliance for the Snowball.
"We hope to have a couple of teammates come Derby time," Thorn said. "But to have Conner this weekend, he’s a good kid and picked this car up pretty quick and is faster in his car than mine, so we’ve got to pick it up with this 43.
"I’m just proud of him, having never raced a Super or here, picking it up so fast is huge and I hope he races well. We have some adjustments to make but going to the Derby, I think our 43 is going to be stout but we can always learn something – especially with these tires these days.
"It might say F-50 on the side of it but they’re always changing so to have good people like Marcus and R&S Race Cars, Mike Keene and Jacob Goede, the more the merrier for the Derby."
As for Richmond, assuming they run good on Saturday, this is the fun part. Sure, the new car isn’t driving good now but that’s what he has always enjoyed trying to solve.
"You build them all the same, and FURY builds these all the same, but then you have to massage it," Richmond said. "His Derby car has been massaged for years and it’s almost perfect and that’s what Derek is helping me with here.
"He’s helping us massage this car like he’s done with his over the years."