By Ken Bruce
Coming off a record-breaking season in 2022, Ryan Godown has not been able to carry the success from last season forward into 2023. The Ringoes, N.J., driver does have four wins, all at his home track, New Egypt Speedway, and is currently leading the point standings but hasn’t been able to garner any wins away from New Egypt.
Granted, Godown and the R&M Motorsports No. 26 team have not traveled nearly as much in 2023 as they have in the past due to certain circumstances, but even when the team has been able to travel, the results have not been there. There have also been a few very bad crashes this season that have put the team behind and left Godown sore.
Tuesday night, Godown and his team were excited as the Short Track Super Series visited the New Egypt Speedway for the Dirty Jersey 50 race. Having the series visit their home track, Godown was looking forward to keeping the trophy in the house. The team ran well all night, but the night ended with a frustrating fourth-place finish, leaving Godown wondering.
“You know, we don’t’ run this car that much at this weight here,” said Godown after the race. “We just ended up chasing it all night long. Different track conditions than what there has been most of the year.”
Track rules dictate that the modifieds run a PA Spec 358 motor on Saturday nights, but with this race being run by the STSS, many motor combinations are legal, and the team decided to go with their open small block, leaving Godown to wonder if they made a mistake going with an unfamiliar car for this race.
“Hindsight is that we probably should have just run our spec head motor car that we run on Saturday’s here,” explained Godown. “It probably would have been more maneuverable, but I don’t care what anybody had; they weren’t going to beat the number nine car (Sheppard). But I think we could have finished a spot or two more if we brought the spec car. Tonight, we were just a tick off. This is probably our oldest car. We got some new stuff and bodies back at the shop, but this is a long race, and I just thought this car would be good for tonight.”
“There are still a couple of months left in the spec world with some big races coming up, and we want to keep our spec stuff fresh for those races, and we aren’t in the points here on the STSS South series. I mean, we are here to win, but I didn’t think the track was that bad tonight, where it would’ve been a concern. When it gets that slippery with these New York guys who run on glass all summer, it puts us at a little disadvantage because we haven’t really seen that slick in a while. Like I said, we were alright and just a tick off, and I am upset about it. We finished where we started and just toughed it out. It could’ve been worse if we went backwards and finished out of the top ten. “I am not happy, but it is a product of a couple different things, with one being that we need to race a bit more.”
Like I had mentioned earlier in this article, the R&M Motorsports No. 26 team hasn’t traveled that much in 2023 so far, but the team plans to get back on the road more often starting in September.
“We have an aggressive schedule starting in September to get better for the end of the year,” mentioned Godown. “We are looking forward to that and just trying to get our stuff prepared. We are not in the South Series points, obviously, so we didn’t want to bring out a new car now and maybe put us behind again. We have some good things coming up at the end of the year, which I am very excited for.”
Even though he was disappointed with his fourth-place finish, it was a good night for Godown in other aspects.
“I was a little upset and depressed after the race, but on a solid note, my daughter was here tonight to watch me race for the first time all year, and we were able to get a top five, so to me, that is a win-win for me,” said Godown. “Obviously, with this being our home track, it would’ve been great to get a win with so many of our sponsors here, but overall, it was a good night.”
With all three drives that finished in front of Godown all being professional racecar drivers, Godown wasn’t surprised with the outcome.
“I knew that was going to happen, and we just had to grind it out,” said Godown. “Those guys are coming off a couple-week stretch of racing where they have raced on every possible track condition, and they are just good. We have just been running our spec head every week. We would like to take our big block to Delaware, but it’s been a train wreck down there with the track conditions, so we don’t want to go and ruin stuff there like we did earlier in the season, but sooner or later, we have to find somewhere to go that’s not five hours away to learn some more with our big car stuff.
“We are not where we want to be yet, but we are clawing back. This team never gives up, and I won’t ever give up on them. We believe in each other, and we will be back.”
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