Kodie Conner established himself in the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Pro Late Model Tour over the past two seasons. With nine wins over the two-year span and the 2015 PASS Pro Late Model championship under his belt, the 15-year-old from Kannapolis, North Carolina is now putting together similar results on the PASS South Super Late Model Tour.
Conner battled near the front of the field throughout last Saturday’s South Carolina Clash at Dillon Motor Speedway, ultimately coming home with a career-best second place finish. During the 74-lap green flag run to open the race, Conner ran third and matched the pace of eventual winner Brandon Setzer and Jody Measamer.
A series of cautions altered the leaders’ battle, most notably when Setzer and Measamer collided exiting turn four. Measamer spun as a result of the contact, giving the second position to Conner. This offered Conner a couple of opportunities to snatch the victory away from Setzer before ultimately finishing second.
“I think it was the second caution, I was beside [Setzer] on the outside,” said Conner following his battle at the end of the race. “I was really getting in there. I was just a little bit off. I was hoping at the last caution, I would’ve got him. He just had a little bit more than I did.”
The runner-up finish at Dillon, paired with a ninth-place effort in the PASS South opener at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in February, gives Conner the series points lead after two races. Conner owns a two-point advantage over Matt Craig, with the tour’s next stop coming on March 19 at Concord Speedway.
Conner’s progressing well as he adjusts to the horsepower difference between the Pro and Super Late Models.
“As of right now, it’s going pretty well,” said Conner about the transition. “It takes me roughly a practice. Depending on the track, it might take me a practice and a half just to get used to the car, the differentiation on the horsepower. The handling of the car really isn’t much different. All the difference is just drive off the corner.”
Those who saw Kodie’s Pro Late Model career most likely recognize his signature tiger-striped #45. Near the end of the 2015 season, however, Kodie unveiled a blue and white machine paying tribute to his grandfather, Jerry Conner.
“My grandfather, when he was racing in 1971 through 1982, he had this,” Conner said about the car. “So we figured we’d do a throwback for him after everything he has done for my career so far. If it wasn’t for him, I really wouldn’t be here. Thank you to him.”
Despite his success, Conner acknowledged before the 125-lap race at Dillon that completing the full 2016 PASS campaign is not in his team’s plans due to funding. He hopes strong runs and some more sponsor backing can add more races to his schedule.
“Honestly, we don’t think we can run all the races,” Conner said. “We’re gonna have to skip maybe three races depending on our budget. If we can get a few extra dollars, we can run more.”
Conner also hopes a strong showing the Champion Spark Plugs “Search for A Champion” contest can provide more funding for the program.
“We’re in the Search for A Champion contest, with Champion Spark Plugs, to try and win that deal. Trying to get as many voters as we can and try to work our way up there and move up in my career.”