2024 Appalachian Mountain LM Speedweek at BAPS Motor Speedway

Gregg Satterlee's App Speedweek Title Sets Table For Firecracker 100

Gregg Satterlee's App Speedweek Title Sets Table For Firecracker 100

Gregg Satterlee's Appalachian Mountain Speedweek title provides momentum heading to the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Firecracker 100 at Lernerville.

Jun 17, 2024 by Kyle McFadden

YORK HAVEN, Pa. (June 16) — Appalachian Mountain Speedweek has always given Gregg Satterlee something meaningful. It’s why the Indiana, Pa., driver made sure to commit to the eight-race miniseries again this year.

Winning the Pennsylvania-based circuit in 2013 legitimized him then as an unproven 28-year-old driver as he joined standouts Josh Richards, Rick Eckert, Austin Hubbard and Tim McCreadie as a miniseries champ. Eleven years later as he approaches 40 years old this August, Satterlee can again say the minitour has given him something meaningful.

Satterlee clinched his second career Appalachian Speedweek title Sunday at BAPS Motor Speedway with a wire-to-wire victory from the pole. The championship pulls Satterlee out of a self-proclaimed rut.

“Yeah I was pretty fresh getting around to racing regionally when I won the first time in 2013,” Satterlee said Sunday after capping his three-win miniseries at BAPS. “Certainly not any easier now than it was then. It feels really good. We had a pretty lousy spring and didn’t get to race a whole lot. To race up front and finish all these nights shows that we have our stuff together, or more together than what we did. We’ll keep racing and try to keep this going.”

The 259-point margin of championship victory over Dylan Yoder is the miniseries largest over its 11-season history. The former Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series driver was far from perfect, which he’ll admit. But he was solid nonetheless, stringing together finishes of fourth, first, first, third, third, seventh and then first, in that order. And as crew chief Robby Allen emphasized, the team finally found its rhythm 

“We could never get a rhythm going before the week,” Allen said. “Like, one weekend, we’d run good one night, then it’d be a whole weekend until we race again. This helped us being able to race night after night. It always helps to race more. It’s easier.”

Before the miniseries, Satterlee had an average finish of 9.8 across six features this season with a single victory (April 20 at Pennsylvania’s Port Royal Speedway). Three DNQs in four national touring events have weighed him down, too.

A hodgepodge of reasons factor into Satterlee’s sluggish start, starting with seven of the 16 races on his tentative schedule being rained out. Allen confesses the team has been testing “different stuff that we were trying,” finding that “some of it was OK” while “some of it wasn’t.”

“It seemed like it took a while,” Allen said. “Instead of it taking three weeks, it took five months.”

Another factor is that Satterlee didn’t start his season until April 13 at Port Royal, the latest that he can recall.

“You can’t decide to stay home and not drive out on the road, and then complain because you aren’t racing all the time,” said Allen, making reference to Georgia-Florida Speedweeks as the optimal time for a competitive team to start a season.

Then it’s down to the nitty gritty of Dirt Late Model performance, like still growing more acclimated with Hoosier Racing Tire’s 2-year-old National Late Model Tire and fine-tuning a balance on the race car in the era of the droop rule.

“It’s been a gradual thing,” Allen said. “Over the last few years, with the droop rule changing and then the tire rule changing. There’s a lot of stuff going on over the last two to three years that’s affected these cars. It’s just taken time. We’re kind of behind. Last year, we ran open tires until July. We didn’t race a full season on them until now.”

Satterlee’s proven what he can accomplish when he does have his race program in order, like when he won April 2022’s Lucas Oil Series stop at Port Royal and finished that year 18th in DirtonDirt.com's Top 25 poll. 

“At Port Royal or Hagerstown, if they have Lucas or World of Outlaws races at them places, if we get our car right, we can beat whoever is there,” Allen said. “But if your car isn’t right, it doesn’t matter. … We’re just like anybody else. At these racetracks we’ve been to a bunch, I think we can win no matter who is there. Our car just has to be right. You have to make the right decisions.”

Other than Thursday at Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway and Saturday at Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown, Pa., where Satterlee “was not comfortable,” he genuinely feels his race program is now back in the ballpark of where they’d like to be.

“I do. I felt really comfortable out there (Sunday at BAPS),” Satterlee said. “I felt really good Tuesday night at Path Valley. Thursday at Selinsgrove and last night (at Lincoln), not as comfortable. Just every night you’re always learning.

“Sounds crazy that you just race and race and race, and every time you race you say you’re learning, but there’s always stuff to learn and things you can do to keep your car balanced better. I feel like we’re getting a better hold of that. Hopefully we can continue to do so moving forward.”

Even Satterlee’s miscues didn’t doom him. June 7 at Clinton County Speedway in Mill Hall, Pa., he blew the feature’s opening corner from the pole, lost five spots, and salvaged a fourth-place finish.

At Lincoln he adjusted “too much on a few spots on the car” and Selinsgrove he just was never right.

“We have good runs. Sometimes we mess up,” Satterlee said. “But I feel like we’re headed in the right direction. It’s hard with the different conditions and different racetracks. We’re running up front. We really struggled some nights getting going. We hopefully are headed in the right direction. We’ll know more next weekend when we go to Lernerville” Speedway in Sarver, Pa., for the upcoming Firecracker 100 weekend on the Lucas Oil circuit.

Appalachian Mountain Speedweek gives Satterlee and Allen good reason to reflect over their time together that began in 2012. Satterlee’s 2013 miniseries title added to Allen’s resume as well, the veteran crew chief who also wrenched Richards and Hubbard in winning ’10 and ’11 titles.

But 2013 is the year Satterlee’s career slowly came together. Later that year he won his first World of Outlaws Late Model Series features at Shawano (Wis.) Fairgrounds and Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway. After that came his first Lucas Oil triumph (at Maryland’s Hagerstown Speedway in 2016), two years campaigning on the Lucas Oil Series (2017-18), and a World 100 prelim victory in 2021.

“He’s not even the same guy as he was then,” Allen said. “He’s an old man now. He has gray hair and everything. He does a really good job. He always did a really good job. Now he has way more experience. This sport, experience means a whole lot.”

While many race teams were snakebitten by mechanical failures and, in Tyler Emory’s case, an injury, Satterlee breezed through the seven races in 10 days (with Friday’s event at Bedford Speedway rained out) without a setback.

“The format certainly takes a little of the grind away,” Satterlee said. “You can find yourself not having to race a heat race every night. You're qualifying, go run two more dash laps, then race the feature. If you have your stuff together, that makes the night a lot easier.

“None of it’s easy. If you have a bad night or have your car a little off, none of it’s easy. There’s a lot more grueling race schedules you could subject yourself to if you choose to do so. The travel time in between races isn’t bad. But this is good. This is how we’ve been operating the last few years. It’s fun that he has this series. I enjoy racing like this and races like this. Hopefully he has it again next year and we’ll make it a little better. Let’s keep it growing.”

Profiles of miniseries tracks have been raised and Allen thinks that BAPS Motor Speedway has what it takes to host a national touring event.

“It just shows there’s a lot of decent racetracks around here,” Allen said. “This place tonight, it’d be awesome to see a Lucas (Oil Series) or World of Outlaws race at this place. I think the facility can. And the racetrack. I wouldn’t have thought the racetrack would be that good from earlier in the night in the heats with how dirty it was. That was as good as any racetrack we’ve been on.”

No matter the result of Lernerville’s Firecracker, Satterlee and company have something to build on. Expectations are high for the lucrative event near his home.

Last year, Satterlee finished fourth behind Ricky Thornton Jr., Hudson O’Neal and Jonathan Davenport, his best finish in 15 event starts. The expectation is the “same as always,” Allen said.

“We’ve proven we can go there and run good if our stuff is all right and if we go there like we need to,” Allen said. “Or we could go there and freaking run terrible and not make the race. We’ve done that before, too. I think we have everything we need to go there and run good. We just have to put it together.”