The World Crown 300 is returning to its roots this year.
The popular Super Late Model race, which is also a Southern Super Series points-paying event this season, will return to a 300-lap, live pit stop format rather than segments and competition cautions as had been done in previous seasons.
Gresham Motorsports Park (Jefferson, Ga.) officials decided to return to the original format for this year's race, which will be run on July 4. This is off the heels of the Snowball Derby also employing a similar approach, returning to live four-tire pit stops after a season in which it only allowed two-tire stops at one time.
While the updated format is a clear competition advantage for those who are able to hire outside pit crews (at roughly $5,000 a day), track officials are hoping the $20,000 winners' purse and prestige will invite crews to step up their game.
DJ VanderLey is a regular in the Southern Super Series and expects to hire a crew if he competes in the World Crown this year. That's a change in approach for the family team who did not hire a crew for the Derby and finished 13th. He believes a crew, and track position would make a difference over the course of 150 miles.
"I think live stops are the way to go for prestigious races like the World Crown," VanderLey said. "Fans want to come see a NASCAR race at their local track and this is another positive step in that direction. As a driver, also prefer a straight-up live race over sectioned races.
"Just let us run 300 laps together and I'm sure there will be plenty of action."
But not everyone can make the commitment to hire a pit crew. One of those teams are owned by driver Donnie Wilson who plans to enter the World Crown with a set of volunteers, just as he's done at the Snowball Derby in previous seasons.
"It absolutely hurts someone like us," Wilson said. "I just think maybe they should just have competition yellows and you can pit without losing positions or something like that. It's a tough call anyway you look at it. But not everyone has the big budgets to hire people and it's hard enough just being able to race as it is."
The format he describes is similar to that of last year's All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, where the order a team entered pit road under caution was the order they would exit before the restart.
The World Crown 300 will be 300 laps and unlike previous Southern Super Series races, cautions will count. It will be a 12-tire race and there will be live pit stops. Only one jack will be permitted.
Chase Elliott is the defending winner, having headlined the all-Georgia podium that included David Ragan and Bubba Pollard.
What they're saying:
"We will be racing the Crown. I like the live pit stops. I think it is what sets the big races apart from all the rest. I don't think it's a disadvantage for anyone. Hired pit crews don't always work out. we found that out at the Derby. We lost about 15 spots on two different stops there.
Strategy comes into play. A team that may not be having their best day could pick up the win or a top 5 with the right strategy.' - Kyle Benjamin