Derek Griffith’s 2022 racing season has become one of two distinct sides.
On one hand, there have been opportunities either to run Super and Pro Late Model races he has never run before, along with his first trio of starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Sam Hunt Racing.
Article by Connor Sullivan, Speed51
The other side has brought the Hudson, New Hampshire driver some of the worst luck of his young racing career; lowlighted by multiple hard crashes on the Late Model side. Griffith has not finished Top 5 since making his debut in 350 Supermodifieds in the SMAC event at his home track of Hudson Speedway in May.
In a slight twist heading into Oxford 250 Weekend in Maine next week, Griffith will make his debut in a Big-Block Super in the New England Supermodified Series on the Night Before the Oxford 250.
“For the Big-Block Supermodified race on Saturday, I’m going to be a part of it with Kenny White, I’ll be racing the number 77 for those guys the Night Before the 250. Louie does a bunch of work for Kenny’s Small-Block Super whether it’s motor related or whatever. Kenny stopped by the shop and told Louie he wanted me to drive the car and if I was interested. From there it kind of fell into my lap like most of these deals kind of do,” Griffith told Racing America on Friday.
Navigating Oxford Plains Speedway is a daring enterprise in itself, but D-Griff is ready for this challenge with wings.
“Oxford is going to be an interesting place for these 900 horsepower monsters to go to because it’s a place where tire wear and losing momentum can really hurt you. I’m curious to see what these things do and how they react to laps we put on. It’s going to be pretty dang cool to strap into one of this methanol powered craziness.”
As for the 250 itself, Griffith will also be stepping into a different car for the Pro All Stars Series event. His 2022 season has been marred by a trio of nasty shunts. After having to scrap a car following a wreck on Easter Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and missing most of their scheduled races in the spring and summer, the Louie Mechalides owned No. 12G team seemed to have speed for the Motor Mountain Masters at Jennerstown Speedway, only to suffer another incident while racing up front.
Going to Berlin Raceway in Michigan the next week, Griffith seemed poised to be in the running to win the Battle at Berlin, before another big wreck ended the night early again.
With all their racecars in shambles, LCM Motorsports seemed to be out for the Oxford 250. But, help has come from another New England driver who, like Griffith, has been a part of the Kulwicki Driver Development Program.
“Our racecar from Berlin which we were planning to run for the Oxford 250 is not going to be ready, so I will be racing Kate Re’s car; preparing it and racing it. We help those guys out from time to time, but for them to offer this to me is unbelievable because I didn’t think we were going to run the 250 after Berlin and with how the year’s gone. It’s great.”
With Kate Re generously giving up her seat to Griffith, he feels that once the LCM camp can get the car to suit his driving style, that they can build on the momentum they have gained at Oxford since 2019.
“The last three years that we’ve run we’ve finished second, had a DNF from a blown motor from a wreck early on, and then bounced back with a third last year. I think our program at Oxford is really good, we got our first win in one of the PASS 150’s in 2019, and even though we only go there a couple times a year I feel like when we go I’m comfortable with where we are.”
Beneath the carnage of damaged Late Models, Griffith feels he has reached a new high in his driving skill, and is eager to resume his climb.
“We’ve had speed all year, we just haven’t been in the headlines with the horrible luck all this year. I feel like I’m the best I’ve been as a driver my whole career, and the team has been prepared. Our speed at Berlin was unbelievable, it was best we had been in a long time. We just need some luck, we need these coincidental circumstances to stop, it’s wearing me down. It’s been a tough year, but if we can get some luck at Oxford, we got a shot at going for it. Maybe driving Kate’s car will help change our luck, something to mix it up.”
But the mix up means that a long week lies ahead before the team makes the trip up I-95 next Friday.
“Their car is at our shop right now, we’re going to run through it, and make sure it’s up to where we need it to be. It’ll be a long week, I also got to travel down to North Carolina this weekend. The next week is going to be a hustle to get it done, but I’m just thankful to have the opportunity to run the 250 and also try something new the night before.”
The Oxford 250 weekend begins on Friday, August 26 with the Oxford Acceleration Series. The excitement builds as the American-Canadian Tour, Modified Racing Series, and aforementioned New England Supermodified Series bring the thunder on Saturday night of August 27. It all culminates on the biggest single-day short track racing event, the 49th Oxford 250 for the PASS Super Late Models on Sunday, August 28.
Tickets are going fast, but for those unable to make it to this Maine racing classic, you can see Saturday and Sunday racing live on RacingAmerica.tv.