With the calendar edging closer to flipping to race season, the 2014 plans for driver Kyle James remain fairly fluid.
The 29-year old might be found this year competing at Thompson Speedway, or Stafford Motor Speedway, or possibly in some Valenti Modified Racing Series events or Open Tour Type Modified shows. He might even be looking at chasing a Mini Stock track title.
There’s a lot of maybes on the table for James. But there’s one thing the Ashaway, R.I. driver is certain of. The focus for 2014 is challenging for an SK Modified championship at the Waterford Speedbowl.
After closing out last year with three victories and a sixth place finish in the SK Modified rankings at Waterford, James said this year his family owned team is ready to contend closer to the to the top of the standings.
“We’re preparing the car this year a little bit different than we ever have,” James said. “We’re going through everything with a fine tooth comb and really making sure everything is perfect. Last year we had 7-10 [did not finishes] from random things. Some nights it was wrecks you just can’t get out of. Other nights it was flat tires. A lot of just unfortunate luck. Hopefully by going through the car better we can change our own luck buy making everything perfect.”
Though he knows, running for an SK Modified title means first catching up to Keith Rocco and Tyler Chadwick. Rocco has set a towering bar of success for anyone chasing him at Waterford the last few years.
“Keith is obviously the best there is right now,” James said. “He’s like [Ted Christopher] was 10 years ago. You’re not going to be the best until you beat him. It obviously makes you spend more time in the garage studying your own stuff and trying to figure out how to step up those couple notches that he’s above you. I felt like last year we made a lot of jumps. I still don’t think we’re necessarily at his level, but I think we’re knocking on the door of being in his and Tyler [Chadwick’s] league. And that’s not to knock anybody else, you’ve got some really good guys down there, but I just feel like Tyler and Keith are at the top right now and that’s what drives me every week. The main goal every week is to get to the front before Keith gets there.”
For James, the SK Modified plans are the solid part of his 2014 schedule. Much of the rest of that schedule remains in the still to be determined category. He will return to his roots at the Speebdowl though, driving a Mini Stock full-time for owner Greg Pearson. James drove in the division for six years before making the jump to the SK Modified division.
“Greg called me and asked if I wanted to drive it,” James said. “I’m not going to turn anything down. It should be a pretty cool deal. The SK Modified is the focal point, the Mini Stock will be a fun deal.”
Away from the Speedbowl plans for James remain dependent on how much financing materializes.
He said he hopes to run six of the seven events at Thompson in 2014 with his SK Modified, with everything but their season opening Icebreaker currently on his calendar. He also hopes to run Stafford Motor Speedway’s inaugural SK 5K on the Fourth of the July, an event which will feature a $27,000 plus purse, with $5,000 on the line to win.
“Everything has to go right at the Bowl,” James said. “If we’re first, second or third in points it’s going to be tough to just take the primary car and go to Stafford and hope we don’t wreck. But I do have a second chassis. Once it’s back from the chassis shop, I basically have enough stuff to do it halfway. I need a couple other things for that, so that could happen.”
Or that second chassis might be going in a different direction altogether. James said if the possibility arises to aquire a Tour Type Modified motor, he may end up running the mid-season Open show at Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway with that car and possibly some select dates with the Valenti Modified Racing Series.
“I don’t have the checkbook that some guys do so it’s really dependent on what some of my sponsors want to do,” James said. “If we can come up with the money then we’ll do stuff, if not we can sight tight at Waterford.”