HICKORY, N.C. -- Steven Legendre is quickly making his mark on the southern Super Late Model scene. After his first two starts in 2010, the 17 year-old Danville High School student is proving himself to be a contender in the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Model ranks against northern stars Ben Rowe, Johnny Clark, and Brad Leighton, and southern shoes Jeff Choquette, Preston Peltier, and Jay Fogleman.
Despite their home base in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, Legendre and his crew chief-father, Kendell, have decided to tackle the PASS South schedule, running at tracks in the Carolinas, Virginia, and Tennessee. Steven is also chasing the five-race PASS National Championship from Maine to Florida, and will run a pair of PASS North events at his home track, White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, N.H.
Legendre heads to North Carolina this week for Saturday's Easter Bunny 150 at the legendary Hickory Motor Speedway, a race that counts for both South and National points. In his two previous starts this year, Legendre drove from 20th to finish sixth in the National opener at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway and 18th-to-third in the South lid-lifter at Dillon (S.C.) Motor Speedway.
"Hopefully we can keep it going," Legendre says. "I've never been to Hickory. I guess it's pretty bumpy, sort of like Unity [Raceway in Maine]."
While Hickory and Unity may be rough, Legendre has been nothing but smooth since he first strapped in. He won more than a dozen times in White Mountain's youth division, took a win in only six Strictly Stock starts, and was a two-time Late Model winner and the Rookie of the Year in 2008. He posted a respectable three top-tens in his first PASS North season last year, and has aligned himself with Fogleman's Shark Racing Development for 2010. He's also the lead driver for Ford Racing's Detroit-based PASS crate engine program.
The teenager finds himself fourth in the PASS National Championship standings, third in PASS South, and potentially looking at a season's worth of headlines.
"We had a good run at Dillon and New Smyrna," Legendre said. "We're doing things a little differently, but it's working. Down south, everybody runs Hamke chassis and Chevrolet engines, but we've got a Jody Lavender chassis and a Ford. I haven't been to most of the tracks we're racing on this year, but we've made it work so far. We've had a lot of help from Jody Lavender, Jay Fogleman, and Mike Delahanty from Ford Racing."
Legendre said he wants to finish in the top-five in PASS South standings, but thinks he has an even better chance at doing well in the National points. Two of the National races are at Thompson, Conn., and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Me., with the finale at Newport, Tennessee. Luckily for Legendre, the South schedule goes to Newport two months before the National event and he'll be able to get some good notes for his return.
"It was important to get a good start at New Smyrna. Since the National thing is only five races, one bad race will hurt you a lot," he said. "My first top-ten last year was at Thompson, and I was running second in the 300 at Beech Ridge before we had a tire problem. We're already planning on doing all the southern races anyway, so it's not like it's going to be a problem for us to get there.
"We're off to a good start. If we have one bad week we'll have a hard time playing catch-up, but I think if we can get through Hickory we'll be in good shape."
(PHOTO: Danville, Vt.'s Steven Legendre at Dillon Motor Speedway in South Carolina. Photo coutresy www.stevenlegendre.com)