Tuesday February 11, 2014

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

This coming Friday, Feb 14, the engines roar at New Smyrna and at Daytona on Saturday, the 15th. At New Smyrna there have been 14 entries posted for the Modified division. A new twist to the February World Series is the NASCAR K&N Series. Among the entries for the Daytona Modified event are Ryan Preece, who became the youngest champion in NASCAR Whelen Modified history last season. Rising stock car star Kyle Benjamin will jump in the No. 7NY Modified piloted last year at Daytona by Kyle Larson. They’ll be joined by young talent such as Tommy Barrett Jr., Timmy Solomito and Jimmy Zacharias. In addition, past NASCAR modified champions Doug Coby, Donny Lia, Burt Myers and Ron Silk are all entered in the race.

The UNOH Battle At The Beach will be held at the Daytona International Speedway backstretch flat track on Tuesday, Feb. 18 and again will air live on television and radio. FOX Sports 2 will broadcast live beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Motor Racing Network (MRN) will go on the air at 6:45 p.m. with its pre-show, and the broadcast will be streamed live at and simulcast by SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90.

In addition to the live broadcast, the Whelen Modified race re-airs the same day, at 11 p.m., on FOX Sports 1. The K&N Pro Series East race re-airs on FOX Sports 1 on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 5:30 p.m., following live NASCAR Sprint Cup practice from Daytona (4-5:30 p.m.) and leading into live NASCAR Sprint Cup practice beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The evening kicks off with the special non-points combination event for the NASCAR Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points race follows at approximately 8:45 p.m. Both races will be 150 laps on the .37-mile oval. Last year, Steve dumped Mike Stefanik for the modified victory, while Cameron Hayley picked up his first NASCAR win in the K&N Pro Series race.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season starts the season Sunday, Feb. 16 at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway. FOX Sports 1 airs the race in a one-hour format on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 9 a.m., leading into Daytona 500 Final Practice at 10 a.m.

The Daytona International Speedway has finalized the starting times for all Speedweeks events, including the 56th annual Daytona 500, which will go green at 1 p.m. Feb. 23. The only major time change from 2013 is the Budweiser Duel At Daytona, which goes to a nighttime start. The first Duel is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 20.

Following are start times for the other remaining events of Budweiser Speedweeks 2014 at Daytona International Speedway:

The Lucas Oil 200 Presented By American Real MAV TV ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, 4:15 p.m. Feb. 15, The Sprint Unlimited, 8 p.m., Feb. 15, Daytona Beach Half Marathon, 6 a.m. Feb. 16, Daytona 500 qualifying presented by Kroger, 1 p.m. Feb. 16, UNOH Battle At The Beach, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, 7 p.m. Feb. 18, NASCAR Whelen Modifieds, 8:45 p.m. Feb. 18, NextEra Energy Resources 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21 and the DRIVE4COPD 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race, 1:15 p.m. Feb. 22.

No need to go to Florida to race because there will be big money paid out in Connecticut next Summer. Since the inaugural 1982 season the SK Modified® division at Stafford Motor Speedway has grown to become one of the most competitive weekly racing divisions in the country, the 2014 season will be no different. With a mix of young rookies, national championship contenders, and crafty veterans, the weekly Friday night 40-lap races promise endless excitement and countless storylines. Adding to the excitement of the 2014 season is a new event for 2014, the SK 5k on Friday July 4th.

The SK 5k at Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday, July 4th will be a big payday for Stafford’s own SK Modified® division. With a total purse of over $27,000 the winner of the inaugural SK 5k will take home a cool $5,000. The race winner will not be the only happy driver post race, 2nd place will see a $2,500 payday, while the 10th place finisher will receive $1,000.

It was only a matter of time before Thompson Speedway clamped down on the campers who have hogged too much space and made big time messes on race weekends at the northeast Connecticut oval. Through the years the cost to maintain and keep the area safe with maintenance staff, security, and cleanup has risen significantly. In addition to that, the number of individuals who have chosen to camp has grown beyond what they ever envisioned. Therefore, in an effort to provide the safest and most enjoyable experience for our campers, the speedway will be charging $50.00 per event for overnight parking.

Space will be limited, so it is recommend that you reserve your spot early. The speedway will begin taking reservations on Monday, March 3, for the Icebreaker. Reservations can be made by logging onto and reserving your spot online, or by calling the office at (860) 923-2280

Early drop off for the Icebreaker will also continue, however, it will only occur during specific times. Those times will be posted on their website on Monday, March 3. Please be sure to check website periodically, as it will be the place where they post future information about camping and all other event information.

Speed51, an internet website recently conducted a poll that named the "Best of 2013 in Auto Racing. Among the winners were Matt Hirschman who got the love from the fans of who voted him as the top driver in all the nation after posting 20 wins last year. He was also voted as Comeback Driver of the Year. Best Short Track Announcer, Russ Dowd of Thompson International Speedway (CT) has long been one of the best announcers in New England and now the fans have spoken. Ben Dodge of Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) and the Smyrna World Series was second. Best Social Media Website, Tom (Sid) DiMaggio of Waterford, CT was awarded the best in the social media class over NASCAR and Southern Super Series Champion Daniel Hemric was third. DiMaggio's "Sid's View" videos, featuring behind-the-scenes action from Waterford (CT) and other New England tracks, have become viral sensations. Best Touring Series, The Valenti Modified Series has come leaps and bounds from when it began in 2004. The series produced 11 winners in 17 races last year with only four drivers winning more than one race. Nearly 80 drivers competed in the series. Plus, it clearly has a growing fan base that has now voted the VMRS the Best Touring Series for a second-straight year. Best NASCAR Series was the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Best Weekly Venue was the Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) which proved to be the best weekly venue for short track racing, Best Short Track saw some historic venues which battled it out for the JEGS best Short Track as Thunder Road Speedbowl (VT) just snuck by the Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) in a neck-and-neck race. The JEGS Rookie of the Year was Kaz Grala who made believers out a lot of fans in 2013 and with that he was voted the JEGS Rookie of the Year for 2013. Grala joins the likes of Chase Elliott 2009, Ross Kenseth 2010, Erik Jones 2011 and Kyle Larson 2012 as former 51 Rookies of the Year. Grala scored a big win at Hickory Motor Speedway

Ben Kennedy was voted as the Most Improved Driver by the fans in 2013 on the back of a pair of race wins in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Kennedy took his first checkered flag at Five Flags Speedway (FL) in April and backed it up with a win at Bowman Gray Stadium (NC). Rowan Pennink, who finally captured the Modified Racing Series title was second in the voting and Dillon Bassett stepped up his game with the UARA title at the age of 16 in third. The best rivalry as voted by the fans was Lee Pulliam vs. the rest of the Late Model Stock Car world. Pulliam was almost unbeatable in 2013 with 31 Late Model wins. Other drivers tried to take him down sometimes a few times a weekend, but Pulliam proved to be the best of the best. Second in our fan voting was the NASCAR KN East Series rookies. The series was packed with them. Three first-year drivers won races before Jesse Little came away with the Rookie of the Year title. The third-most voted feud was that of Johnny Sauter and Travis Sauter, who got into a family grudge match that cost them both the Oktoberfest title at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway (WI). The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September had it all from 23 lead changes to a bump and run finish with Todd Szegedy going to victory lane after contact with Donny Lia. Second was any of the Battle of the Beach races where the leader at the white flag did not cross the line first at the checkers. The races produced some national attention with Mike Stefanik's words that reached the late night talks shows on network TV. Third was either of the Myrtle Beach 400 races that had wild final laps where drivers ended up in the wall and DQ'ed for actions on the track. Worst Luck, Deac McCaskill got the nod from the voters for the worst luck. Realistically, the veteran Late Model racer had an outstanding Late Model season, but it came on the same year that Lee Pulliam couldn't be stopped. Brett Moffitt was second as he had a chance to take the NASCAR K&N Pro Series point lead at Dover, but was pulled up the track in the final laps by another car. For Moffitt it was just another chapter in how he missed out on a championship. Third went to tech man Ricky Brooks who hit by a car on the track at the Governor's Cup 200. Brooks' luck was bad that day, but good at the same time because he recovered to be at the Snowball Derby. Surprise of the Year, Chase Elliott at the Snowball Derby will go down as the biggest surprise of the year and perhaps of the decade. The 18-year-old dominated the race to win what he figured would be his second Snowball Derby. After the race tungsten weight was found in his car, which was against the rules for cost reasons. Elliott would be disqualified from the win in what will go down as a very expensive mistake. The second-place surprise of 2013 also included Elliott, who along with Erik Jones became the first two 17-year-olds to win in the NASCAR Camping World truck Series. Both drivers were racing in the short track ranks just a year before and filled out their schedule in Late Models around their Truck starts. Third was the Johnny Clark, who went winless in PASS for the first time since 2003. Most Inspirational Moment, for Rich Bickle the final ride at Madison International Speedway (WI) was so sweet as he went out in victory lane. It will go down as the final win for the historic short tracker's career. Second also had some Wisconsin flavor as the tributes to the late, great Dick Trickle from all around the country were overwhelming. Memorial races, moments of silence and tributes to 99 filled the second half of the season. Third-place when to the family team of Travis Benjamin who won the Oxford 250 for the first time in his career and then had to go back to work the next morning selling newspapers at the family gas station...papers that had his victory lane photo on the cover.

Best Personality, Ryan Preece was voted as the driver with the Best Personality in short track racing. His fellow NASCAR Next driver Dylan Kwasniewski was second in the voting after winning the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East title. Burt Myers was third as he took his sixth track champion at Bowman Gray Stadium. Short Track Bad Boy, Keith Rocco was seen to be bad to the bone and ends up as the Short Track Bad Boy for 2013 in our 51 Awards. Rocco takes the honor from Ted Christopher, who won last year, and has been in the top two every season since 2009. Gray Gaulding ends up in the top three only because of one bump that came at Phoenix. JEGS Weekly Track Driver of the Year, No one in their right mind could keep Lee Pulliam off the top of this category after the season he had in 2013 and the voting proved it. He took a total of 32 wins and the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Championship for a second year in a row. Ryan Preece scored 12 SK Modified wins away from the regional touring stuff and was second as Keith Rocco took 14 wins a pair of track championships in Connecticut en route to third in the voting. JEGS Best Promoter, Tom Curley captures the award for the year's Best Promoter, according to the fans of Curley has built the ACT into one of the premier touring series in both the United States and Canada, as well as continuing Thunder Road International Speedbowl's place as one of the top short tracks anywhere. On top of the normal events that make up the ACT Tour, Curley as his bunch added the International 500 at Airborne where a $25,000 prize was awarded. Jerry Brown and Michael Diaz at Southern National (NC) were second and Ron and Scott Wimmer of State Park Speedway (WI) were third.

JEGS Best Short Track, Some historic venues battled it out for the JEGS best Short Track as Thunder Road Speedbowl (VT) just snuck by the Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) in a neck-and-neck race. For third place you have go all the way up to Wisconsin to State Park Speedway. Best Annual Race, For every year since 2010 the Snowball Derby has won the honor as the Best Annual Race from the fans. The mystique of this event cannot be topped and because it's the final show of the season, the year goes out with a bang at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. The Thompson (CT) World Series came home second and the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) was third. Russ Dowd of Thompson International Speedway (CT) has long been one of the best announcers in New England and now the fans have spoken giving him the honor of 51's Short Track Announcer of the Year. with the team of Andrew Bartlet & Curt Keene from State Park Speedway (CT) taking third place honors.

On the speedway stock market scene last week, two of the three speedway stocks were down for the week. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 1.68 to 31.89 and Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.47 to 18.69 while Dover Entertainment went up 0.17 to 2.50. NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.25 to 8,02 while NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.13 to 23.53 and NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 1.24 to 54.27. The car builders had a positive week. Ford went up 0.01 to 14.97 and General Motors went up 0.03 to 36.11 while Toyota went up 2.62 to 117.38. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 0.40 to 76.45 and Lowes dropped 0.22 to 46.07. In big team sponsor’s stock, Dupont went up 2.44 to 63.45 and Aarons Rentals went up 1.43 to 28.32 while Coca-Cola dropped 0.34 to 67.94 and Target dropped 0.31 to 56.33.

On the tube this week:

2 /11 Tue 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM NASCAR Race Hub FoxSports1

2 /11 Tue 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM NASCAR Race Hub FoxSports2

2 /12 Wed 2:30 AM to 3:00 AM NASCAR Now ESPN2

2 /12 Wed 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM NASCAR Race Hub FS1

2 /12 Wed 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM NASCAR Race Hub FS2

2/ 13 Thu 2:00 AM to 2:30 AM NASCAR Now ESPN2

2/ 13 Thu 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM NASCAR Now Media Day Special LIVE ESPN News

2 /13 Thu 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM NASCAR Race Hub - Media Day Special FS1

2 /13 Thu 9:00 PM to 9:30 PM NASCAR's The List - Greatest Finishes NBC Sports

2/ 13 Thu 9:30 PM to 10:00 PM NASCAR's The List - Legendary Drivers NBC Sports

2 /13 Thu 10:00 PM to 10:30 PM NASCAR's The List - Greatest Races NBC Sports

2/ 13 Thu 10:30 PM to 11:00 PM NASCAR's The List - Rivalries NBC Sports

2 /14 Fri 1:30 AM to 2:00 AM NASCAR Now ESPN2

2/ 14 Fri 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Classic NASCAR: 2013 Daytona 500 FS1

2/ 14 Fri 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM NASCAR Live! FS1

2/ 14 Fri 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM NASCAR Sprint Cup: Sprint Unlimited practice Daytona FS1

2/ 14 Fri 6:00 PM to 6:30 PM NASCAR Live! FS1

2/ 14 Fri 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM NASCAR Sprint Cup: Sprint Unlimited practice Daytona FS1

2/ 14 Fri 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM The Day - Daytona Primetime FS1

2/ 14 Fri 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM Return of the 3 FS1

2/ 14 Fri 11:00 PM to 12:00 AM The Day - Remembering Dale Earnhardt FS1

2/ 15 Sat 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM NASCAR Racing: Sprint Cup Daytona 500 practice Daytona FS1

2/ 15 Sat 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM NASCAR Live Daytona FS1

2/ 15 Sat 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM NASCAR Racing: Sprint Cup Daytona 500 practice Daytona FS1

2/ 15 Sat 3:30 PM to 4:15 PM NASCAR Live Daytona FS1

2/ 15 Sat 4:15 PM to 6:30 PM ARCA in Daytona Beach Daytona FS1

2/ 15 Sat 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM NASCAR Raceday Daytona FS1

2/ 15 Sat 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM The Sprint Unlimited Daytona FS1

2/ 16 Sun 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM NASCAR Live Daytona FS1

2/ 16 Sun 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Daytona 500 qualifying Daytona FOX

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and other publications for over 3 decades.

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