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Kody Vanderwal 070319
Kody Vanderwal has experienced the highs and lows of racing. (Meg Oliphant/NASCAR)

Kody Vanderwal’s Remainder of 2019 In Question

A mainstay in the K&N Pro Series West for the past three seasons isn’t sure what his future holds.

Following his eighth-place finish at Douglas County Speedway, Vanderwal sent out a series of tweets venting his frustration with the season to date that appeared to boil over in Oregon.

“It was so important to restart on the inside it was kind of annoying,” Vanderwal told NASCAR.com. “Restarted there for the initial start, don’t think I gained anything. Rode in fifth for awhile. Then we had a restart and someone on the outside had a bad one, moved me up to third. We were there for a little while, then we had another restart and took second from Hailie (Deegan). I must’ve been there for 60 laps or so. There was one point shortly after I got to second where I pulled the gap to Derek (Kraus) from eight car lengths to six and I think his spotter told him I was coming, he hit fifth gear and took off. Never saw him again.”

Racing-Reference: Kody Vanderwal Career Statistics

Up until that point, the LaSalle, Colorado, native’s race was on the short list of the best of the season. Until a Lap 110 caution from James Cooley wound up changing the complexion of his race.

“We were coming around to lap him for the 10th or 11th time and a caution came out as we were exiting Turn 2,” he said of Cooley’s No. 31. “I was trying to get underneath him. He turned left, hit the brakes, and I was already rolled out of the throttle, had no time to react, ran into the back of him. Punched a big hole in the nose.”

The damage made the car loose. Vanderwal’s car was setup to have as much heat in the right front tire as possible. With the incident poking a huge hole in the RF, cooler air swarmed the area and made the car extremely ill-handling.

On top of that, Vanderwal said he “got dumped” by Todd Souza for seventh on the final lap, losing only one spot, bringing it home in eighth.

The next series of tweets from Vanderwal illuminated an issue in the sport for everybody: funding.

“Just the fact that I know there was somewhat of a possibility that Roseburg could be my last race in NASCAR full stop,” he said when asked why he opted to share his thoughts.. “I don’t think it will be, I certainly don’t want it to be, but there’s a possibility that there could be. I wanted to go in getting everything I possibly could out of it and to be second for that long with a car we felt like wasn’t second-place capable, I was really confident coming in and during the race. For it to go south like that kind of sucked.”

According to Vanderwal, a new sponsor prospect has been in the works for Iowa Speedway and the Levin Racing team should have a better idea of the company’s involvement later next week.

However, past the combination event, Vanderwal is realistic and not expecting to be present at the track in a K&N car.

“There’s a lot better chance now that we’ll be in Iowa,” he said. “But beyond that, the rest of the K&N season isn’t looking very likely at all. We’re still working on stuff and we’re trying really hard to get something put together for 2020. As much time as we have between now and 2020 there’s still a pretty good chance we’ll find something, it’s just a matter of what and where. I’m pretty hopeful we’ll make it to Iowa. Beyond that, still questionable.”

For a driver, managing everything from the race car, relationships on the team and securing sponsorship can take a toll.

“It’s pretty taxing,” he admitted. “I tend to over involve myself sometimes especially with the actual cars. I haven’t as much this year, being with Levin, I haven’t had to help as much, but I over involve myself with stuff going on with the setup. I think about that too much, getting the car better instead of thinking of how to drive the thing. I try to keep involved with the money side of things and stuff, too. But my brain just doesn’t understand that as well as other things.”

With all that said, Vanderwal still is able to sit back and look at the big picture of things.

“It’s really taxing but at the same time I never expected anything of this to happen,” he said. “For it to have gone this far and for there to be any chance of it continuing still gives me hope. I know I was even more skeptical than I am now before I started.”

The Casey’s General Store 150 from Iowa Speedway is scheduled to get underway on Friday, July 26.

Kody Vanderwal Car 070319
Kody Vanderwal’s No. 43 has been a fixture in the K&N Pro Series West for the last three seasons. (Meg Oliphant/NASCAR)