Stay in the game, Part 2

Craig Murto




Racing is a sport that can send you soaring to the highest of highs, but also sink you to the lowest of lows; when your luck is bad, how do you stay in the game?

This is the second part of our conversation with racers before the 2018 running of the Easter Bunny 150 Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Model race at Hickory (North Carolina ) Motor Speedway about how they stayed in the racing game when it appeared the chips were down.

Tate Fogleman is only 18, but he’s seen every side of this sport. And he also knows that his crew rallies behind him, so his attitude is paramount.

“We’ve definitely had our downs,” Fogleman observed. “We’ve been loose in practice, loose in qualifying, couldn’t even run a lap without it being loose and maybe even have to park it in the race because it was so bad we just couldn’t get a handle on it. But we know what it’s like to be on top, so we just keep grinding, trying to get the car better, working on it every time I get a chance. After school, I like to stop in the shop and put as much effort into it as I can.

“I try to encourage the guys, we’ll get there eventually, we know what it’s like to be on top of our game,” Fogleman continued. “I try to be there for the guys and keep the guys positive. They base their attitude off of me. If I’m positive and stay positive, they try harder and want to get the car as good as they can. But if I’m down and negative, I think that brings the crew down too.”

Preston Peltier wins his share of Super Late Model events, all across the country.

“When things are at their worst, the real racers, they get busy,” Peltier said. “When things go wrong you learn stuff, and that’s what makes you better. You just wait for it to turn around and you do the best you can every day.”

Matt Craig tries to dwell on previous success when things aren’t going his way at the track.

“You have to look at every week as a new week and try to block out the bad things,” Craig said.

Cale Gale, a former Xfinity Series competitor, knows a thing or two about racing, at all levels.

“Racing’s going to take you from the highest highs to the lowest lows, there’s no doubt,” Gale said. “I’ve been on the top of this deal and I’ve been on the bottom side. You have to keep yourself focused and put yourself in the realization of where you’re at.”

And Gale added, “You want to remain in good spirits.”

Kodie Conner may be a teen, but he’s been turning heads and has a wealth of experience for his age.

“You just got to keep working,” Conner said. “It’s a sport that takes a lot of time and effort. Coming off a bad weekend going into a new weekend … you just have to keep working on it. You have to do the best you can to stay positive.”

Bubba Pollard is another driver who wins races all over the country, including last Saturday night’s PASS race at South Boston, Virginia. If he’s at the track, he’s in the game. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a bad race now and again.

“I think the biggest thing is having good people around you to keep you motivated,” Pollard said at Hickory, noting that having his family, good people who work on his cars, and fast cars doesn’t hurt. “What keeps us going is knowing we have a shot to win every time we come to the racetrack.”

But he did note that he’s had his share of problems.

“Just things we couldn’t help, but that’s part of racing,” Pollard said. “You’re going to have that if you race long enough. Having good people around you and having fast racecars definitely helps.”

Jeff Fultz is a veteran on America’s short tracks. He’s seen the highs and he’s felt the lows.

“When you’re down and you’re not winning, keep trying,” Fultz said. “You’ll win sooner or later.”

Fultz finished off with a statement that may indicate the truth of the matter; racers will always stay in the game, it’s their nature.

“You just never give up, you just keep coming back and race, it’s what we do,” Fultz said. “That’s what we love to do.”