A Story by NASCAR.com | By Paul Lambert
The world of Super Late Models is undoubtedly centered in the South, with drivers like Bubba Pollard and Stephen Nasse gobbling up the big prizes.
But for the last two years, it’s been New Englander Derek Griffith who’s been on top of the division at the World Series of Asphalt at New Smyrna.
After locking up his second straight SLM title at the World Series, Griffith joined a very select group of drivers to win at least two straight championships at New Smyrna in that division since New Smyrna began hosting the event in 1968 (Pete Hamilton, Junior Hanley, Dick Trickle, Pete Orr).
The week was a dominant one for Griffith. He picked up three wins and finished no worse than ninth in seven races, winning the title by 28 points over Ryan Moore.
From racing at Hudson Speedway in his hometown of Hudson, New Hampshire, Griffith has made it to the top over some of the best Late Model competition in the country.
“If you told me when I was 12 years old, when I was first starting off, that I even would be racing a Super Late Model, I’d have been like ‘Yeah, right. Whatever. Get out of here…’ I would never have projected myself to be in this position when I first started,” Griffith said.
In fact, Griffith’s career has gone nowhere but up the last couple of years. Driving the ARCA Menards Series in a part-time role with Chad Bryant Racing in 2020, Griffith picked up a pair of top fives and seven top-10 finishes in eight starts.
RELATED: Derek Griffith Career Stats | Watch: All 9 Nights of 2021 New Smyrna World Series
Only 24, Griffith’s stock has risen to the point where he’s one of the most sought-after Super Late Model drivers in the country. This past week, Griffith was being asked for advice on finding speed by young local drivers.
“It’s funny. I’m considered, like, an old guy now,” he said. “I’ve had some of the kids [in Florida] asking me questions, talking to me about stuff.”
Something Griffith has always been proud of has been that he’s very much a part of doing work on his cars. “The hard way,” as he calls it, began when he was a teenager, racing at his hometown track and it adds a bit more satisfaction each time he gets to Victory Lane.
“It’s a fulfillment level I can’t put into words,” Griffith says. “We’re just some little team from New Hampshire. It’s crazy to think that just because we’ve hustled, and put our time in, that it’s earned us the spot that we’re at right now.”
This year, Griffith has plans to run more ARCA races, along with short track events across the Northeast. Despite all the success and all the accolades that have gone his way to this point in his career, Griffith makes sure not to let the winning go to his head.
“I like to try to stay as humble as I possibly can,” Griffith says. “It’s so important for me to kind of keep my head in check and make sure I’m not overstepping where I think I need to be.”
“I’m always going to remember myself as that kid at Hudson Speedway that ran a Volkswagen Golf GTI for some fun on the weekends.”
With that in mind, Griffith continues winning—hopefully, with plenty more to come in 2021.
NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – Derek Griffith finished on the podium during Friday’s David Rogers Super Late Model feature that opened the 55th World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway, but that simply wasn’t enough for the driver from New Hampshire.
Fast forward to Saturday and Griffith, the defending World Series champion in the David Rogers Super Late Model division, was in his own zip code as he roared to his first victory of the week and third of his career during the World Series.
“It just feels good, especially after last night,” Griffith said in Victory Lane. “I know we finished podium, but we got tore up and had all sorts of issues. To come out and kind of prove ourselves as someone who kind of belongs here, it feels good.”
With a band of storms washing out qualifying, the field for Saturday’s 35-lap feature was set based on the finishing order of Friday’s race. The top-six were then inverted, placing Justin Mondeik on the pole alongside Connor Mosack.
Mosack drove into the lead entering turn one from the top, with fourth-starting Griffith advancing to second by the completion of the first lap. Griffith took several looks to the inside of Mosack in the first few laps before finally making his move on lap eight. They raced side-by-side for two laps before Griffith completed the pass entering turn one on the 10th circuit.
It was effectively game, set, match from there as Griffith drove away from the field en route to the victory.
“We’re just a small, family-owned team,” said Griffith, who is also scheduled to compete in the ARCA Menards Series opener at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 13 for Venturini Motorsports. “It’s so cool to come down here and run with these guys and compete.”
Mosack finished more than a second behind Griffith in second, followed by Mondeik in third. Jacob Goede took fourth after holding off a fierce challenge from Jett Noland in the final laps of the race.
Bryan Kruczek initially won the 50-lap Sportsman feature after an intense battle with Friday’s feature winner Matthew Green, but both were later disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct after their respective crews shared harsh words with each other. That eventually led to a physical altercation in technical inspection, leading to the disqualifications.
As a result, third-place finisher Wayne Smith inherited the victory.
Noland doubled his fun in the Pro Late Model class as he outran Kody Swanson for the second-straight night. Travis Eddy also earned his second victory in as many days in the Florida Modified division.
Lastly, Matt Jarrett was initially declared the winner of the E-Mod feature, but he and runner-up Michael Mark were disqualified due to left-side weight violations. Tim Walters inherited the win.
Super Late Model (35 laps): 1. Derek Griffith, 2. Connor Mosack, 3. Justin Mondeik, 4. Jacob Goede, 5. Jett Noland, 6. Ryan Moore, 7. Sammy Smith, 8. Brad May, 9. Jake Garcia, 10. Dan Fredrickson 11. R.J. Braun, 12. Kris Wright, 12. Stephen Nasse, 14. Jesse Love, 15. Kelly Moore, 16. Daniel Dye, 17. Michael Hinde, 18. Jake Finch, 19. Nick Panitzke, 20. Kody Swanson 21. Bubba Pollard, 22. Jaden Cretacci, 23. Steve Weaver, 24. Patrick Thomas, 25. Travis Wilson.