No one could accuse Derek Kneeland of an unwillingness to jump into the deep end when he goes Super Late Model racing in his free time away from the Cup Series spotter stand.
For the second consecutive year, Kneeland has entered the Money in the Bank at Berlin Raceway on Tuesday and Wednesday, where he will compete against the likes of Bubba Pollard, Erik Jones, Derek Griffith, Gio Ruggiero and Evan Shotko. Beyond that, Berlin Raceway is also one of the most challenging and unorthodox track layouts in the discipline.
Of course, the schedule limits his scope of opportunities to midweek shows, but the Richard Childress Racing spotter enjoys going full-send as it were.
“It really has two and a half straights,” Kneeland told Short Track Scene on Wednesday night. “It gets really interesting as tires start to fade. Like, 1 and 2 stays the same but 3 and 4, especially in my crate (engine), there are so many different lanes to get your grip off 4.
“And that’s so important because your drive off of 4 will determine how well you get into 1. It’s just neat. There are bumps off 2. I really enjoy it.”
He made the most number of laps in practice day last year, working really hard with cousin and crew chief Rusty Poland to build a notebook, that they think will really pay dividends next week.
“I’m not going to say that I have it down pat but I do think we can reset our goals,” Kneeland said. “They’re realistic goals, right?”
In addition to chasing Cup Series wins with Kyle Busch this season, Kneeland has spent a fair amount of time chasing funding to make four starts this season and got the final piece of that puzzle last week. They are going to race the two big midweek shows at Berlin, the June 17 Cup off-weekend weekly show at Oxford and racing alongside Busch at Lee Speedway on July 14 at Lee Speedway in New Hampshire before the Cup weekend at Loudon.
“At this point, it was just making sure everything looks good for this weekend,” Kneeland said. “We already got our set up in so it’s just getting the wheels looking nice, fluids, everything looking good. Leave on St. Louis for Cup on Friday so it’s got to be ready now.”
He’s ready too.