Photo Credit: Thompson Photography

HAMPTON, ON- Following back-to-back campaigns spent with the cross-province OSCAAR Super Late Model Tour, Kelly Balson has confirmed his 2016 season will center on Sunset Speedway’s inaugural Avenue Auto Parts Super Late Model Series.

“It’s impossible not to be excited about this series when you take a look at the names that have already been confirmed for it,” beams Balson when asked about the five-race series.

“I mean, how much deeper of a roster could you ask for? From Jeff Hanley to Dwayne Baker to JR Fitzpatrick – it’s like a who’s who of accomplished racers from top to bottom. I’m not sure the Super Late Model division has been this deep in a long time”

In addition to once-a-month appearances at Sunset, Balson hints that his London Recreational Racing-backed effort will also make select appearances at Peterborough Speedway throughout the Summer.

“The five race series at Sunset will be our main focus for 2016 – but that’s not to say we won’t add dates to our schedule as we get closer to the Spring,” explains ‘The Crowd Pleaser’. “It’s no secret that Sunset and Peterborough are my two favourite tracks. The Sunset series was a no-brainer for us – but we’ll most certainly be at Peterborough as much as possible”

Following a sophomore season that included six top-5 finishes in seven Super Late Model appearances across Ontario, Balson will enter 2016 with a newly purchased McColl Racing Enterprises chassis that carried veteran Kevin Cornelius to the OSCAAR tour championship in 2015.

“We’ve had a really good program the last two years – but this kind of acquisition is what could take us to another level,” says Balson when asked of his new ride. “I’ve raced against the No. 17 for two years, and it was awfully tough to beat it. So why not buy it? We’ve had some fantastic finishes in our old car – but opportunities to pick up this kind of ride don’t come along every day”

The new purchase will also present Balson the unique opportunity to work closely with a compelling tag-team of setup experts, comprised of McColl Racing Enterprises’ head Mike McColl and GTA Racing Design founder Graham Annis.

“I’m excited to be aligned with the entire team at McColl [Racing Enterprises] heading into this season,” says Balson. “Mike and his guys have built the best cars in Ontario for a long time, and I’m really looking forward to hearing what they have in mind for us”

“Graham has done an incredible job getting this program to where it is – and having him and the folks from MRE working together on this program gives us a ton of confidence”

When asked how his latest acquisition sets up his AJK Racing team moving forward, Balson insists that his family-owned team intends on staying within the Super Late Model ranks for the foreseeable future.

“Super Late Model racing is where I intend on being for the next few years,” explains the Hampton, ON driver. “We still have the Limited Late Model that [teammate and spouse] Amanda [Connolly] will race at Peterborough this season, but I can eventually see us thinning our stable down to one car. And, when that happens, it’ll be about working out a schedule for both of us to drive a Super Late Model, as opposed to splitting our resources between two different divisions.”

Kelly Balson’s 2016 season will be made possible thanks to the support of London Recreational Racing, Cochrane Automotive, Brandon’s Landscapes, Castrol Edge, Bennett Chevrolet of Cambridge, GTA Racing Design and McColl Racing Enterprises.

By Spencer Lewis (@itsspencerlewis)