Derek Griffith Builds a Foundation in Xfinity Debut

The Super Late Model ace gained valuable seat time at Richmond.


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Saturday was all about seat time for Derek Griffith in his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Richmond Raceway.

The PASS and World Series of Asphalt Super Late Model champion started 31st and finished 26th three laps down in the Sam Hunt Racing No. 26, but the results were hardly the point. In fact, team owner Sam Hunt and crew chief Allen Hart chose Richmond for his debut to prepare him for Martinsville next weekend.

The thought process being that Richmond would get him used to the race car in advance of a track that isn’t too dissimilar to his Super Late Model schedule.

Most importantly for his Saturday, Griffith kept his car clean and logged laps, which was the primary goal for the 25-year-old from Hudson, New Hampshire.

"Seat time, seat time is the most important thing I could ever learn doing this deal," Griffith said. "We had a lot of speed once we got rolling but these guys are so aggressive on restarts, that I felt like we were three wide, four-wide every time before we got to Turn 1 and then we did it again and again."

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"I just didn't want to tear up the car," Griffith said. "I just can't thank Sam and Allen for giving me this car and the opportunity to learn. Hopefully we'll have a shot to make strides at Martinsville. I think we can have a good run."

What were his biggest challenges?

"I really wanted a better finish, but it’s so hard because I don’t know what information to relay yet," Griffth said. "It’s a new car for me, a new team to communicate with."

All told, Griffith wanted a better run, with a stronger result. He came in aiming for a top-15. With that said, Griffith accomplished some off-track goals too -- networking and making himself known in a new garage.

"I’ve been working to be here in this pit area since I was 8 years old, be here, much less race," Griffth said. "So, this was more about just getting the program started. It’s about knowing when I need to be places, where I need to be, and knowing who I need to talk to. Overall, a good experience."

It was a race car he immediately loved driving and wants to master like he has the Super Late Model. It’s an experience he wants to have more often with a team he hopes he can build with into the future.

"You see everyone from the smaller funded teams to the mega teams all competing and competing close," Griffith said. "These are high horsepower, low downforce race cars. It’s what a race car is supposed to be. It’s awesome.

"The atmosphere is unbelievable, and the hype is unbelievable, everyone is excited, and we’ll carry it to next week."