CONCORD, N.C. — George Phillips will pilot the No. 6 Chevrolet for Setzer Racing and Development in the CARS Tour Late Model Series this year.
The move comes with a little motivation from Humpy Wheeler, a close friend of Phillips’ who has mentored him for the past few years. Phillips has accomplished many feats in the U.S. Legend Car Series and the move up was somewhat inevitable. The Legend Car series is a major stepping stone in a young driver’s career and development.
“The time I spent racing all kinds of different tracks in my Legend car really helped me get prepared to make the transition to late models,” Phillips said.
“We are very excited to have George behind the wheel for us this year,” Brandon Setzer said. “We have watched him have success at the Legend car level and can’t wait to see what he can do in our late model.”
The 14-year-old has had success in the Legend Car series, claiming victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway’s quarter and third-mile tracks as well as claiming a win at Charlotte’s Summer Shootout. Phillips won the biggest race in Carteret County Speedway history — the 50-lap, $2,500-to-win Race of Champions on December 10, 2022.
For young drivers, to make a move into late models is a more strategic decision than in the past. To be able to set forth a full series schedule, one must take on a business roll to concrete the deals. When it came to choosing a team, Setzer Racing and Development seemed to be the right fit.
“I am so honored to work with Brandon and Dennis Setzer and this whole team,” explained Phillips. “I really feel like I have the very best team and to be their driver is a huge blessing. Dennis and Brandon know the car inside and out and are great teachers. They both are incredibly decorated and talented drivers.”
As Phillips transitions to the full-size stock car, the team has had several practice and track development days over the past few months. The goal is to develop communications, advance skills and win races.
Setzer Racing and Development has had great success over the past few years with young drivers, making the decision relatively easy for Phillips.
“We are very excited to help with George’s transition from Legend to a full-body late model,” added Setzer. “George has shown good speed and decision-making in the legend car that will transfer over well to the late models. We look forward to fine-tuning the skill set he already has and applying it to the full-body car.”
It’s a big transition for a young driver, but Setzer has a great approach.
“I think it’s important to keep the expectations simple for a young driver just getting started. The goal is to get better at every race and learn from any mistakes. George has the speed to run up and compete for wins. It’s our job to help him hone his race craft and keep mistakes at a minimum and results will come from that,” Setzer said.
In addition to the CARS Tour, Phillips is set to make his late model debut this Saturday at Hickory Motor Speedway in the Carolina Pro Late Models. In light of his busy schedule, luckily his support system is one of great influence and trust.
“I have some extra special friends that have been incredible mentors to me,” sounded Phillips. “Humpy Wheeler is my hero, he always makes time for me and comes out to watch me practice. Jeff Gordon and John Bickford — I would not even be at this point if it were not for them. I can always count on both of them to shoot me straight. Lorin Ranier also has been helping me for the past two years and believing in me.
“Joey Bishop has always reminded me to have fun. And ‘Jazzy Jazz’ Kirkly and Dexter ‘Loveboat’ Williams, they motivate me to always pursue my dreams. They are all amazing blessings in my life.”
As the saying goes, it takes a village, and George has an amazing village of support from inside and out.