Tuesday January 7, 2014

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

Before we know it the 2014 racing season will begin. NASCAR Sprint Cup teams will be testing at the Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the season opening Daytona 500 which will be run on Sunday, Feb 23. The 2014 version of NASCAR cars and trucks take to the track at Daytona for preseason test sessions, with FOX Sports 1 providing 12 hours of coverage over three days from Jan. 9-11. The NASCAR on FOX team of Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Mike Joy call the action while NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars are on the track Jan. 9-10 (1:00 pm/et to 5:00 pm/et, Live), with Bob Dillner and Matt Yocum reporting from the pits and Jeff Hammond reporting from the garage. Setting up camp in the garage area, host Rick Allen and analyst Hermie Sadler offer a location for drivers, crew chiefs and other personalities to talk over the dayís storylines. NASCAR Nationwide Series tests air on FOX Sports 1 from 3:00pm/et to 7:00pm/et on Saturday, Jan. 11.

The count down to Speed Week continues. As of this coming Friday, Jan 9, five weeks remain before the engines roar at New Smyrna on Feb 14 and at Daytona on the 15th.

It looks like Matt Hirschman will be a regular fixture on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2014. Internet racing news site broke the news last week that the second generation hot shoe will pilot the Wayne Darling entry in selected tour events in 2014. Hirschman will also drive his own entry when the Darling car is not available.

Still no word on what, if any plans that Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik have for 2014.

Word comes from the Valenti Modified Racing Series that they have extended their schedule to 17 events in 2014 as they have added the Waterford Speedbowl Fall Finale to their series. The Valenti Modified Racing Series will now have three events at the shoreline oval in 2014.

In addition to being part of the Oct 4-5 finale weekend at Waterford, the series will open its season at the shoreline oval on March 30 and also visit the track on Aug. 9.

In the good news department, congratulations to Keith and Cassie Rocco on the birth of their son who was born on Jan 3. The Little Rocco is the 5th generation addition to the Ceravolo family.

Congratulations to Ronnie Bouchard who was inducted into the Eastern Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame. The late Fred DeSarro and the late Len Boehler were also inducted.

In the sad news department, George Tet, former Modified driver on Long Island, passed away on Dec. 31. He was 90 years old. Tet, whoís real name was Tetsuo Fuchigami, was the first Japanese to drive in a NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup, running three races in 1960-1961) car. In the 1950s he won at many tracks including Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, N.J., and Dexter Park in Queens, N.Y. He also raced at Islip and at Old Bridge in New Jersey. He excelled in Sportsman type cars, often beating the Modifieds with his sportsman. For many years he ran a florist business, located by Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park.

The Washington DC Post reported that Congress let about 55 different tax breaks expired on Dec. 31. In theory, Congress could still extend these (retroactively) for 2014. One such tax break was: A tax break to help NASCAR build racetracks. This tax break allowed anyone who builds a racetrack to receive a small tax benefit through accelerated depreciation. (It was called the "NASCAR loophole," but it doesn't just help NASCAR.) Supporters claimed the break is necessary so that NASCAR can compete on a level playing field with other theme parks. But it's gone now, unless Congress decides to extend. Cost to extend: About $50 million per year.

On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks started the year on the negative side. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.64 to 35.12 and Dover Entertainment dropped 0.05 to 2.45 while Speedway Motorsports went up 0.01 to 19.94. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.85 to 9.94 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.17 to 23.37 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.05 to 55.43. With the exception of Ford which went up 0.21 to 15.51, the car builders were down for the week. General Motors dropped 1.47 to 39.57 and Toyota dropped 1.37 to 120.51. In the home improvement sector, Lowes went up 0.12 to 48.95 and Home Depot went up 0.25 to 81.89. For the most part the big team sponsorís stocks had a slow start. Target went up 1.34 to 63.49 and Aarons Rentals went up 0.17 to 29.55 while Dupont dropped 0.47 to 63.78, Fedex dropped 3.38 to 140.05 and Coca-Cola dropped 0.72 to 72.26.

Rhode Island native Allen Bestwick will remain with ESPN /ABC after it loses its NASCAR contract and work primarily as play-by-play announcer for the network's broadcasts of IndyCar Series events. Bestwick currently serves in the same role for network's NASCAR broadcasts but ESPN/ABC will lose broadcast rights to those races at the conclusion of the 2014 season. NBC and Fox and their respective sports networks will broadcast all NASCAR events beginning in 2015. Bestwick will do both IndyCar and NASCAR events this season for ESPN/ABC. In 2015, Bestwick will do IndyCar broadcasts and work in other sports.

Television coverage is beginning to heat up:
1/ 8 Wed 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM NASCAR Race Hub: Best of the Year FS2
1/ 9 Thurs 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM Daytona Winter Testing: Thursday Daytona FS1
1/ 9 Thurs 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM NASCAR Race Hub: Best of the Year FS2
1/ 9 Thurs 8:00 PM to 12:00 AM Daytona Winter Testing: Thursday Daytona FS2
1 /10 Fri 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM NASCAR Race Hub: Best of the Year FS1
1 /10 Fri 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM Daytona Winter Testing: Friday Daytona FS1
1/ 10 Fri 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM NASCAR Race Hub: Best of the Year FS2
1/ 10 Fri 8:00 PM to 12:00 AM Daytona Winter Testing: Friday Daytona FS2
1/ 11 Sat 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM Daytona Winter Testing: Friday Daytona FS2
1/11 Sat 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM Daytona Winter Testing: Saturday Daytona FS1

Thatís 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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