Reid Lanpher is a little nervous, a little excited and a little impatient for the weekend to come.
“It can’t come soon enough,” he said. “I can’t wait. I’m just really pumped.”
Lanpher, 14 of Manchester, will make his long-awaited JR Motorsports debut this weekend with the first round of the “Dirty Dozen” Late Model series at Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, N.C.
Lanpher signed with JR Motorsports — which Sprint Cup driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. owns — in the fall.
He flies out today.
Lanpher will drive the No. 8 JRM Chevrolet. Teammate Josh Berry drove that car to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship at Motor Mile Speedway in Fairlawn, Va.
The “Dirty Dozen” series will be split with between Motor Mile and Southern National this year.
It’s the first time in four years JRM expanded its Late Model roster, and team manager L.W. Miller says he’s eager to see what Lanpher can do.
“It’s the first race of the season and it ought to be a real competitive one,” he said. “With this being Reid’s first race we don’t have any expectations. We want him to get a feel for the car. Hopefully, he can qualify for the feature. I don’t have any real high expectations going in until he runs a race or two. At that point we’ll figure out where we’re at.”
Lanpher, who last competed in a Super Late Model race at Wiscasset Speedway in October, agreed.
“I’m a little nervous, I can’t lie,” he said. “I’m going in with not many expectations. I want to bring the car home in one piece. I don’t know the track or the competition. I tend to adapt well to the track pretty quickly, so hopefully I can catch on quick. But for the first time out, I won’t set expectations too high.”
Last season Lanpher became the youngest driver to win a feature race in any division at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He won a road course race there in the NELCAR Legends tour.
He has limited experience driving a Late Model but is eager to get going.
“I’m just excited to get down a race,” he said. “I know I’m going to be in some pretty good equipment.”
Seth Kooiker will serve as Lanpher’s crew chief for the race.
Miller originally was going to serve that role, but he stepped aside when his responsibilities for the Nationwide Tour team expanded.
“We’re all set to go racing,” he said. “Set-up wise, Reid’s car is ready. We rebuilt the whole car so it’s like new again. We just can’t wait to get him going.”
Lanpher, who’s been competing in the East Cross Country Snowmobile Racing Series this winter, will test the car Friday in advance of the 125-lap qualifying and feature races Saturday.
“I feel like it’s been forever since I last raced,” he said. “I can’t wait to get going again.”
Bill Stewart — 621-5640