MANCHESTER, Maine – JR Motorsports development driver Reid Lanpher will break new ground this weekend when he heads to North Carolina’s historic Hickory Motor Speedway for the first time in his career.
Lanpher, of Manchester, Maine, will drive the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet in the Hendrick Honda Hickory 100 for Late Model Stock cars on Saturday, June 29.
“I like going to new tracks. It’s something that doesn’t faze me at all,” the 15-year-old Lanpher said. “From what I’m hearing, Hickory’s low-grip and flat. It’s nothing like Motor Mile – it’s more like the kind of tracks I’ve grown up racing on. I’m looking forward to that, and we’ll see what we can do there. Motor Mile certainly hasn’t been my favorite, that’s for sure.”
In the last Dirty Dozen Cup event at Motor Mile on June 22, Lanpher saw himself a victim of accidents in each half of the Blue Ridge Copier Twin 125s – which only compounded a disappointing qualifying effort of 15th in the 25-car field.
Lanpher admitted it’s all just part of the learning curve associated with his first full season in Late Model competition. That curve has been hampered not only by what’s taken place on the track, but also what has taken place off of it. A number of rainouts over the last six weeks have made finding a rhythm difficult.
“It’s just so tough,” Lanpher said. “We’re still fast every week, and we have a really good car. Last weekend, the first practice we were second-fastest and then we just missed it a little bit in qualifying. It’s just so close. There are cars within a tenth (of a second) in qualifying. It’s just that tough.”
In addition to the Dirty Dozen Cup starts he’s made, where he has a career-best finish of third earlier this season for JRM, Lanpher has competed in two Thursday night Amsoil NELCAR Legends Tour races at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine. Lanpher started at the rear of the field and finished eighth in a rain-shortened race two weeks ago, and last week he started inside the Top-5 and finished second.
The Legends racing has been fun for Lanpher.
“It’s just some more racing – I love racing anything,” Lanpher said. “That stuff is during the week, so it normally doesn’t conflict too much with my schedule (down south). I have fun with it. I don’t have a really stout car right now, but we’re working on that.
“Racing down here for these guys at JRM, and then going there – everyone expects me to win and nothing else. They don’t realize people like Matt (Bourgoine) and those other guys, how much time they’re putting into their cars. The competition there is really good.”
This week, Lanpher will test his JRM Late Model at Hickory before competing there Saturday night. He knows all eyes are on him.
“I’m a little frustrated right now, yeah,” Lanpher said. “There’s so many people watching. Right now, I just have to do everything I can to not get a (bad) reputation as a driver. I can’t afford that.
“I’m really looking forward to Hickory. It should be good to race against some different cars. (JRM teammate Josh Berry) has run third there before, and it’s still going to be really tough – but our goal is always the same. We want to qualify in the Top-10 and then run in the Top-3 or the Top-5. Our cars have been better in race trim than qualifying trim, so we’ll see what we can do when we get there.”