Super Late Models
Last Chance Survivors Battle to Strong Derby Finishes
Nov 5, 2021
In his first three career appearances in the Snowball Derby, Derek Griffith and the LCM Motorsports Super Late Model effort have shown continuous improvement the past three Decembers at Five Flags Speedway. But, he is adding an additional challenge for his 2021 journey to Pensacola, Florida; doing Super and Pro Late Model double duty as he looks to also qualify for his first Allen Turner Snowflake 100.
Ironically the final Pro Late Model race of 2021 will mark the beginning of a new partnership for Griffith, who will wheel a PLM for a new car owner; Florida’s Tyler (T.M.) Porter.
President and CEO of Godfrey Environmental Contracts LLC, Porter has sponsored a number of Late Model drivers in recent years; but will be breaking into the ownership side by competing in Pro Late Model events with Griffith as his driver. In addition, Griffith’s longtime car owner and crew chief Louie Mechalides will also serve in the crew chief role, with many of the LCM crew pitching in as well.
“It all kind of came out of nowhere, but a pretty amazing deal to get setup with him, and everything he wants to do. We’re excited to see where it goes. He’s been involved a little bit the last couple of years in some way, he’s done stuff with Bubba Pollard, Matt Drake, Molly Helmuth, and a few other racecars. But, this is his first stab at being a team owner and going for it,” Griffith told Racing America.
Porter has already provided sponsorship to Griffith earlier this month, with the No. 12G Super Late Model sporting GEC stickers for the All American 400 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.
“Tyler wants to have a killer Late Model program, we’ve been talking about it for a little while now. He just went and bought a brand new FURY car. Everything is ready to roll, we’re going to go down there and have a good weekend. I think it’s going to blossom into something really good. If everything works out, we’re probably going to run a lot of other races in 2022.
“This will be in Pro races, Tyler knows that we have our own Super program right now. He wants to run the races that we’re already planning with the Super. Louie is still going to be the crew chief, everyone from my crew is still going to be a part of everything. It’s going to be a unique deal, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this before.”
Griffith has also indicated the possibility of select Pro Late Model stand alone races being added to their schedule, such as the Alabama 200 at Montgomery Motor Speedway or the new CARS Pro Late Model Tour.
Before all that, Griffith will first look to break in the fresh new FURY car at Five Flags, while also tackling the strain of Snowball Derby/Snowflake 100 double duty for the first time ever. Confident as ever, he is ready for the challenge.
“I think so, I’m curious to see how a Pro drives compared to a Super there. I’ve always considered myself a better Pro driver than a Super driver, for most of my career I’ve run crate motors back home. I’m excited to see how it plays out and what Louie and I can bring to the table, and hopefully prove that we can make anything go fast. I feel ready.”
The story of the Hudson, New Hampshire native has grown once again in 2021, starting the year with a second World Series SLM title at New Smyrna Speedway, making a pair of ARCA Menards Series appearances for Venturini Motorsports, debuting in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in a one-off start with Kyle Busch Motorsports, winning his second Pro All Stars Series National Championship, and being a presence in every SLM event he has attended outside the Northeast.
This also includes nearly winning on debut in the All American 400.
“If that last yellow didn’t come out I would’ve had a much better shot at winning than the last restart we had. We were good, but fought tires all day; I got two lucky dogs, but wiggled up for a podium finish after leading a couple of laps. We’ve been in contention at nearly every big Super race we’ve been to this year,” said Griffith.
“The CARS Tour race at Jennerstown, I broke with 2 to go chasing Sammy Smith, second at Berlin for Money in the Bank, first time at the Rattler finishing fourth. All these races we travel all over the place for, it was cool to break out of our comfort zone, see some success, and hopefully bring that momentum to the Derby.”
As for the Snowball Derby, Griffith is being counted by many as a dark horse pick based on his performance throughout 2021, and his Derby effort in 2020. Overcoming qualifying troubles and having to advance in through the Last Chance Race, Griffith marched through the field along with Chase Elliott over the first half, before finishing the day in ninth.
“Last year our car was unbelievable in the race. I raced with Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott for a lot of the race, just banging doors with the best in the country, they had won the last two Cup championships, which was amazing. After I got together with Boris Jurkovic late, the car wasn’t as good and had to hold on for a Top 10. Before that we had a Top 5 car, just circumstantial stuff which plays a big part in the Derby,” Griffith explained.
“If we can have a good racecar like we did last year, and not have to get in through the Last Chance Race, we’ll have a strong finish as long as we stay out of trouble.”
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Racing America Northeast Correspondent