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Larry Ott: Davis eyes fork in the road at Little Valley

The long- and short-term aspirations of a younger driver can change as a career develops.

Such will be the case when Bryce Davis drives through the pit gate Saturday to challenge in two different classes during Little Valley Speedway’s dirt track season finale.

Davis, 24, of Hornell will seek to accomplish a short-term mission of locking down Little Valley’s Crate Late Model season championship. Looking long term, he aspires to launch a career in the top tier Super Late Model class.

Davis brings his family-owned Crate Late Model car to Little Valley holding an eight-point edge over Brad Mesler, Paul Grigsby and Mike Wonderling in the Crate Late Model standings.

Also, Davis will be behind the wheel of the John Lacki-owned Super Late Model, hoping that a good showing in his third career Super Late Model event could turn some heads and impress those in the Super Late Model pit area.

Davis says that the priority is to wear the Little Valley Crate Late Model crown. His emphasis will then turn to furthering his Super Late Model resume.

“At some point, if not next year then perhaps the following year, I’ll be looking to run a Super Late Model more often as opposed to the Crate Late Model, and may even get to my bigger goal hopefully of getting into the Super Late Models full time,” Davis said.

“It’s going to be tough to not get caught up in the whole Super Late Model thing Saturday because I’ve dreamed of driving Super Late Models since I was a kid,” he said. “I need to prove myself.

“But I also need to remember that I have a responsibility to my team and myself to concentrate on having a good showing in the Crate Late Model and come home with that championship. That’s the biggest thing Saturday.”

If Davis can clinch the title it will be his first championship of any kind since he won a 4-Cylinder title at Woodhull Raceway when he was 14.

Davis would also become the first Crate Late Model champion in track history because this is the first season the division is a points-earning class.

Davis, who began his career in Go-Karts at age 9, moved through the 4-Cylinder ranks quickly and landed behind the wheel of a 360 Late Model when he was 16. He’s best known for his 360 driving days, which included wins at various weekly tracks as well as on the BRP Can-Am 360 Late Model Series.

In 2011, one year before he moved to the Crate Late Models, Davis finished second to Bruce Miller in Little Valley 360 points. Davis authored three career 360 wins at Little Valley.

Since joining the Crate Late Model ranks Davis has won twice at Little Valley, the first last August and the next in this season’s opening event.

“In the Little Valley opener this year, I battled Brad Mesler for the win for 19 of the 20 laps that night and I finally got by him on the last lap for the win when I got him coming out of Turn Two and down the backstretch,” Davis said.

Davis made his first two Super Late Model career starts this season at Little Valley in the Lacki entry.

“The last race at Little Valley in the Super Late Model I started 16th and finished eighth,” said Davis, who is sponsored by Griswold’s E.T.R Services. “The first time I ran there I was running seventh or eighth and I got caught up in a wreck.

“It’s a whole different feeling running a higher horsepower and much faster Super Late Model compared to my Crate Late Model,” Davis said. “Stuff happens so much faster and everything seems like a blur to me when I’m in the Super Late Model. But I’m sure I’ll adjust with seat time.”

Whatever happens Saturday, Davis has had a successful Crate Late Model season. He won the RUSH Late Model Series Northern Tour Ron Baker Memorial June 5 at Freedom Motorsports Park and finished second to John Waters in that’s tour’s visit to Humberstone Speedway in July. Davis is 27 points behind Max Blair in RUSH Northern Tour points heading into that season finale Oct. 9 at McKean County Raceway.

“Max is so strong and he’s so good and he’s been around forever,” Davis said. “A 27-point deficit would be near impossible to overcome against Max, especially with just one race left.

“I’ve been pretty strong over the last three years that I have run the Crate Late Model at Little Valley since I started running these cars in 2012 so I hope to get that championship Saturday night.”

Little Valley’s Super Late Models will run for $3,000-to-win in their feature Saturday. This same class will also race for $3,000-to-win Friday at Stateline Speedway. If a driver can win both nights’ races he will pocket a $1,000 bonus.

Pit stops

• Wyoming County International Speedway will host its biggest weekend in years with the Fall Shootout, Oct. 9-11. The marquee event will be the asphalt Modified $10,000-to-win American 100 on Oct. 11. The racing action on Oct. 10 will be highlighted by the SST Modified 100. The 4-Cylinders, 6-Cylinders, Super Stocks and TQ Midgets will also host races that weekend. Check for all information.

• Champions at Humberstone Speedway for 2015 are: Gary Lindberg, Sportsman; Dennis Lunger Jr., RUSH Late Models; Jason Fontaine, Street Stocks; Rob Goulding, Mini Stocks and Mike Toovey, Pro 4 Trucks.

• Raceway 5 champions are: Shannon Whaley, Sportsman; Dave Dubois, 360 Late Models; Byron Dewitt, Street Stocks; Brad Shepard, Mini Stocks and Dante Mancuso, Bandits.