Scott McDaniel
Scott McDaniel, of Livermore, drives off Turn 4 at Oxford Plains Speedway earlier this season. McDaniel has improved his performance a great deal in 2017 and now runs among the frontrunners on a regular basis. 

LIVERMORE — Two well-seasoned drivers who decided to run for points this year in Oxford Plains Speedway’s premier Super Late Model division, Lyman’s Alan Tardiff and long-distance traveler Andy Saunders, of Ellsworth, have rightfully earned most of the headlines thus far in 2017.

For 27-year-old Scott McDaniel, of Livermore, the new season has been rewarding even in a part-time effort. The 10-year short-track veteran started off strong, with a second-place finish on May 27 and a solid, fourth-place run on June 3.

Now, as the month of August approaches and the 44th annual 250 draws closer, he’s ready for more.

“We had an older car that was pieced together, and it just never went fast,” McDaniel said. “So for this year, we had Jeff Taylor build us a brand new car at Distance Racing. It was fast right off the bat.”

The increased speed and handling of Distance-built cars has been a big topic of conversation in 2017.

“He came out with a new car of his own at the end of 2015, and last year his customers gained big speed. The nine-time champion at Oxford is a master at building a winning chassis for flat tracks.”

McDaniel first got behind the wheel of a race car back in 2007. His steel horse of choice was a PASS Modified at the time.

“I ran that division from 2007 through 2014,” McDaniel explained. “The best part of that deal was I got to race at every track in Maine, and I believe five or six tracks over in New Hampshire. That was really big, because it helped me learn to adjust the car, as opposed to adjusting my driving style at one place.”

Having experience on a touring series has enhanced the careers of many a driver over the decades. Being a master at one track is impressive, yet the skills to win races on any given layout are different.

“The only unfortunate part of that deal was that we didn’t race at Oxford until 2011 or 2012, so we were away from home a lot. In 2010, I had eight top three finishes out of 10 races. I’d have to say that was my best season in that class.”

McDaniel feels the PASS Modified division is an ideal stepping stone for drivers with aspirations to go Super Late Model racing down the road. Right now, there are a few young talents considering their options for 2018.

“The cars require the same type of adjustments as the big cars do,” he said. “Obviously, the shocks are a much less advanced unit than the Super Late Models utilize, but overall, learning to dial in one of those cars will prepare a driver for the big step far better than running a Street Stock would ever do.”

Like his counterparts in the Oxford pit area, McDaniel has a few key people who keep his car on-track.

“The main person I have to thank is my father; I wouldn’t be able to do any of this with out him. He has so much knowledge in every category. He is a talented fabricator, which means we don’t have to take our car to Jeff to build things or make repairs. I appreciate all my dad does for me more than he knows.

“I also have Mike Perry, who comes to the track with us all the time. Mike is one of the hardest-working people I know in the pit area. Freddie DiPompo is my spotter, another guy with so much knowledge and family history at Oxford. He’s a big asset to the race team. My brother Neil and uncle Lee have busy lifestyles, but they help us whenever they can.”

McDaniel also has a few marketing partners that allow him to be this competitive. Even fringe fans realize this sport is driven by cubic dollars, where width of wallet is just as vital as one’s depth of courage. 

“My biggest supporter is Dickie Damon, of Damon’s Rentals,” McDaniel said. “I wouldn’t be able to get to the track a lot of times if it wasn’t for him. He actually owns the engine in our car and I can’t thank him enough for all he does for us.

“Our newest partner is Sunshine Pools, Inc., of North Jay. Owners Jeff and Kim LaRoche are carrying on a tradition of quality service that began when Jeff’s parents, Leon and Lucy, founded the company back in 1973. They’re a great fit with our race team, and we’re proud to have them on board in 2017.”

The only source of dismay for McDaniel in 2017 is having to run his new car on a part-time basis.

“It’s been pretty frustrating, for sure, but like so many others it’s been money that has kept us on the sidelines,” a candid yet sincere McDaniel explained. “I made the mistake of going to watch the races a couple of times, which only added to the misery. I just don’t know what else to do on the weekend.”

With only a few weeks remaining in the regular season and the 250 almost here, McDaniel is ready to get back on-track and close a good year out in style.

“We’re going to try and race as much as we can leading up to the big show. I might have a new partner coming on board to give us a better shot at making the race, but if it doesn’t pan out, I’ll take the hit myself and give it all we have.

“We’ve got a great car. With a little more help, maybe we can get that first Super Late Model victory and have a decent run in the 250. That would make the 2017 season more than special for our team.”

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