The CARS Tour Super Late Model division will contest just a partial schedule next season.
Series president Jack McNelly made the announcement during the drivers meeting on Saturday prior to the Race to Remember 250 at Concord Speedway. The decision was teased last month when CARS Tour official Chris Ragle suggested the third-year series could shutter its Super division due to dwindling car counts.
When it launched from the ashes of the old Pro Cup Series back in 2015, the Championship Auto Racing Series set out to draw big fields for both the Late Model Stocks and Super Late Model divisions. But, nearly three years into the project, Super participation has tapered off tremendously.
Only one driver, Nolan Pope, has competed in every single event — and he’s in third in the standings behind Brandon Setzer and Cole Rouse. As a result, McNelly felt something had to be done.
He’s just not sure which direction to take yet
“Just so there was no confusion, I told them we would run a partial schedule and that it could mean one race or it could mean nine,” McNelly told Short Track Scene on Saturday night. “I intentionally left the door open because we’re not sure. The chances that we will run 10 Super races is probably slim and I wanted to be transparent about it.
“I didn’t tell them that we would run seven, six, eight or nine. But for obvious reasons, I can almost guarantee you that we’re not going to run 10 races. There’s just too many dang Super races across the country right now.”
The CARS Tour Super Late Models division averaged 25.6 entries in 2015 but dropped to 20.3 in 2016. That number dropped again in 2017 with an average of 16.9 entries appearing prior to this weekend. That number will soon drop further as only 13 cars took the green flag on Saturday at Concord.
McNelly says this result is unacceptable.
“I’m so embarrassed, to be quite frank with you, when we only have 10 cars,” McNelly said. “Really? Fans didn’t pay this kind of money to watch 10 cars. For our business model, if I can’t have a field of 35 cars (for both divisions combined) I’m in trouble.”
The event at Concord is taking place at the same time as the Battle at Berlin 251 in Michigan and the Oxford 250 in Maine. Both are prestigious events that likely drew a handful of teams away from the CARS Tour event in North Carolina.
In short, McNelly believes there are too many Super Late Model races and not enough cars to sustain them. The CARS Tour co-promoted a race with the Southern Super Series last month at Anderson Speedway and he believes that could be the answer moving forward.
“With this racing thing, you can’t be on an island by yourself,” McNelly said. “And especially with this kind of race car because it runs all over the country. Look at Steven Wallace, and more power to him, but he’s in Michigan this weekend racing and we’re 15 minutes away from his shop. And I understand why hes up there. His sponsor wants him up there. That’s just an example.
“So, I think what we need to do as a series is scale back a little bit. We need to run some special races for the Supers and hope the other series follow suit, and we can all have less races and all have bigger fields.”
The Late Model Stock tour is not expected to receive a similar shake-up.
“For stocks, I have no problems with them whatsoever,” McNelly said. “That’s because we have 22 stocks every week. They have been loyal. There has been 8 or 9 that’s been at every event. We’re rewarding them with tires this weekend at we’ll do the same at South Boston.”
McNelly added that the 2018 CARS Tour schedule for both the Late Model Stock and Super Late Model divisions would be released prior to the 2017 season finale on October 14 at South Boston Speedway in Virginia.
Read more Short Track Scene:
- Curtis Gerry earns first Oxford 250 triumph
- Doug Coby finally returns to NASCAR Mod Tour Victory Lane
- How Dale Earnhardt Jr. was mentored by his Late Model crew chief