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Racing veterans find enjoyment in short-track racing

Anyone walking through the pits at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing may have done a double take if they saw former NASCAR crew chief Tony Eury Jr. working on a super late model.

After all, his NASCAR accomplishments are well documented. Now, however, he has found a new home in the super late model and modified ranks thanks to Rob Fuller, a modified driver and former NASCAR crewman.

“This stuff is fun,” Eury said about his new venture. “This gives me enough racing where I can balance (everything). I can be with the family, go do fun things with friends and I can still do what I love to do, which is race. It’s not the limelight that it was, but you can honestly say I’m very happy with everything I’ve done and I’m satisfied.”

The satisfaction for Eury comes from working at Fuller’s Mooresville-based company LFR Chassis. Headquartered in Lake Norman Business Park, in a building owned by NASCAR driver David Stremme, Fuller acquired Steve Leavitt’s chassis business and created LFR Chassis last year.

“I have always had my own ideas and thoughts on what I would like to try,” said Fuller, a 25-year racing veteran. “I was dealing with another chassis manufacturer and it’s tough to get people to change. If you want to change something, you’re better off starting from scratch and doing it yourself.”

Last April, Fuller constructed his own modified chassis and took it to Thompson (Conn.) Speedway.

“I knew I had something special by the way the car drove,” Fuller said. “I called Todd Szegedy and told him I needed him to drive the car … that I needed to be on the outside working on it because no one knew more about my product than me.”

Fuller quickly realized that with the time his race team demanded, he needed qualified people that he could trust to oversee his new chassis company. He began recruiting veterans of the sport who possessed a tremendous amount of knowledge about race cars: Eury, Jeff Fultz and Ryan Stone.

Eury is LFR Chassis’ competition director, Fultz oversees the late model division and Stone is responsible for the modifieds. Eleven people work at the Mooresville facility that has sold 31 NASCAR modified and 17 super late model chassis in less than a year.

Four of the company’s Mooresville employees worked together on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s two-time NASCAR Busch Series championship team.

Eury has more than 20 years of experience as a crew chief, car chief, mechanic and tire changer at NASCAR’s top two levels. He has led top teams to victories and championships at Dale Earnhardt Inc., Hendrick Motorsports and JR Motorsports. He and Fuller first met in 1997 at DEI.

Fultz has 30 years of experience in late model racing as a driver, car chief and builder. He has 10 championships and more than 250 victories. A three-time champion and the leader on the all-time wins list in NASCAR’s All Pro Series, he also has worked at Penske, DEI and has run his own development team for more than a decade.

Stone has been in racing for 18 years and has a decade of experience in modified competition as a driver, car chief and crew chief. He won the 2011 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship with driver Ron Silk.

“We have designed the chassis from scratch,” Fuller said. “Steve Leavitt got us off the ground and with all of the racing experience we have under the roof we have fine-tuned everything. This is our basic car (or) Gen 1 car. We’re already working on our Gen 2 improvements and upgrades. Then we’ll have a Gen 3 car.

“Everybody here has had a lot of success at a very high level of racing and we’ve seen how NASCAR has progressed with their design changes and how the Cup teams work. We don’t want to get caught up in one design.”

It’s the racing knowledge that Eury enjoys sharing with young competitors, especially those in the company’s driver development program.

“I can take my experience in the overall picture and try to help kids know where they are and how to get to where they want to be,” Eury said. “If I can help paint that picture and make it easier for them that makes me happy.

“They can come to one of these deals and for $200,000 you can take them for a full season and with people who have cup experience. Fuller and I know what that side of the curtain is like. We can prepare these guys, teach them what they’re going to have to do and how their ability will have to be when they get to the other side of that curtain, if they go that far. If I can help the mom and dad understand how good their kid is, I might save that family $2 million. It’s all about honesty with people.”

It’s also about camaraderie and enjoying one’s profession: working on race cars.

Local racers head for New Smyrna

With the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing underway at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway, several Charlotte-area drivers hope to walk away with a victory.

Competing in super late models are: Concord’s Matt Wallace, son of NASCAR driver Mike Wallace; Huntersville’s Harrison Burton, son of former NASCAR driver and now NBC Sports analyst Jeff Burton; Mooresville’s Steve Wallace, son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace; Ryan Moore and Garrett Jones.

Also in the super late models, Denver Foran, from Edmonton, Alberta, and Joey Mucciacciaro, of Wolcott, Conn., will drive cars fielded by Mooresville-based LFR Chassis.

McReynolds, Custer, Drake return to Bill McAnally Racing

Mooresville’s Brandon McReynolds, Nick Drake and Cole Custer will return to Bill McAnally Racing for the 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series season. McReynolds will compete for the K&N Pro Series West championship in his second straight season with the team.

Last year, McReynolds won the series Most Popular Driver award and was named to the NASCAR Next program. The son of former NASCAR crew chief and now Fox Sports analyst Larry McReynolds finished fourth in last year’s standings.

Custer, who became the youngest driver ever to win a NASCAR national touring season event last September at New Hampshire, will compete in selected K&N Pro Series East and West races. A NASCAR Next driver, he won the K&N West season opener at Phoenix last year and then had a K&N East victory at Richmond before the then 16-year-old surprised everyone with his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory. He is the son of Joe Custer, the general manager for Kannapolis-based Stewart-Haas Racing.

Drake capped off his rookie season last year by winning the West division season finale at Phoenix. He will contend for the East division title this season.

Line wins Pro Stock season opener

Mooresville’s Jason Line opened the NHRA Pro Stock season with a victory at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif. Line’s 36th career victory came in his 75th final round. He qualified second for the event and defeated Drew Skillman in the final round with his quickest pass of the day: 6.545 elapsed time, 211.83 mph.

Charlotte announces Winter Heat Series champions

Many Legend drivers use Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Winter Heat Series as a tune-up for the track’s Summer Shootout that begins in June. That, however, doesn’t lessen the importance of the Winter Heat championships.

In the Legend Pro Division, Concord’s Joey Padgett claimed the title, while Huntersville’s Reid Wilson placed third.

Robbie Faggart had to settle for third in the Master Division, but son Dillon Faggart earned the Semi-Pro championship. Concord’s Alex Murray placed third in Semi-Pro.

In the Bandolero Outlaw division, Mooresville’s Matthew Davey finished second. Concord’s Ryan Israel finished second in the Bandolero Bandit standings behind champion Daniel Wilk of Pineville.