Derek Griffith may not live in Florida but he has certainly made himself right at home over the last two winters in the Sunshine State. For the second consecutive year, the Hudson, NH native earned the World Series of Asphalt championship in the David Rogers Super Late Model division at New Smyrna Speedway. The 24-year-old driver won three of the seven feature races contested over the course of the nine-day racing event.
While Griffith’s 9th place result in the Orange Blossom 100 finale at the track located not far from the Daytona International Speedway was his worst effort of the entire World Series, it was enough to assure him of the 2021 title.
The accolades received at the historic short track racing venue no doubt helped to soothe the sting of a disappointment from earlier in the day at the nearby super speedway. After starting from the sixth position and charging to the race lead at one point in the ARCA Menards Series-sanctioned Lucas Oil 200, Griffith spun on lap 27 after contact from another driver and crashed. That incident resulted in a 30th place finish for the No. 55 Venturini Motorsports team.
The 2018 Pro All Stars Series national champion put that aside and returned to New Smyrna where he sealed the deal on his second championship. The young driver was humbled to be counted among those who have earned this prestigious title.
“It means the world,” Griffith stated in his post-race interview. “We work our butts off. We’re a small team from New Hampshire to come down to Florida and to come down here and get a couple of race wins and a championship consecutively just means the world.”
Saturday’s 9th place result was due to a mistake made early in the 100-lap finale. But to have such a strong week encourages the driver for what lies ahead.
“I’ve been coming down here for a long time and we’ve had a lot of not-really-good runs so to fill a week with a few wins and a good few runs, I think this was our worst night of the week tonight,” he pointed out. “It’s unfortunate. It was all my fault. I drove it right into the fence on the front stretch on the outside of someone. It was on me but we’ve got a good race car and I’m looking forward to what we do for the rest of this year.”
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The 9th place finisher in the 2020 Snowball Derby believes in his team and treasures the fact that they can run competitively against short-track racing’s biggest stars.
“I think we’re a really good team here in the Super Late Model program,” Griffith declared. “I know a lot of the guys all around us, you look who won tonight-(Stephen)Nasse- and Bubba(Pollard) was in the field and some of these guys have won the biggest races in the country multiple times. To race with those guys all week and to beat them a couple of times means the world. It’s such an honor to carry the colors of all my friends back home and all my family who work their butts off. I’m just happy to be here.”
Griffith became the first driver in two decades to capture the Super Late Model title in back-to-back fashion at the World Series of Asphalt.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
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