RPW Exclusive: Racing At New Smyrna; Daytona; Whelen Mods On TV & More

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The annual World Series of Auto Racing at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida got the green flag last Friday. Anthony Sergi went in to the 53rd Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing without a win in 41 previous starts.

That winless streak ended Friday night when he capitalized on late-race contact between leaders Derek Griffith and Carson Kvapil to score the Super Late Model win on night one at New Smyrna Speedway (FL). The tour type modifieds would not run their first event until Monday.

The 2019 schedule for Tour Type Modified racing took the green on Saturday night with a dominating run by Chuck Hossfield at the Bronson Speedway in Archer, Fla. Hossfeldt started on the pole of the 10-car feature and led every lap of the 50 lap tour type 50 lap feature. Matt Hirschman finished second with Jimmy Blewett, third. Blewett pressured Hossfeld in second for the first 35 laps of the event before Hirschman used a restart to take over the runner-up position with 15 laps remaining. A bid by Hirschman’s to overtake Hossfeld with two laps remaining was hindered by a lapped car slowing his momentum. Patrick Emerling was fourth and Andy Jankowiak rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Calvin Carroll, Jeff Goodale, Jeremy Gerstner, Jeff Gallup, Chris Risdale.

In other action in and around Daytona, Harrison Burton held off the field in a one-lap overtime shootout to win Saturday’s ARCA Menards Series race at Daytona International Speedway. It was Burton’s first career start at Daytona. Racing at New Smyrna on Saturday night fell victim to rain.

An extremely sparse crowd was on hand last Sunday at the Daytona Int. Speedway for Daytona 500 qualifying and the annual Daytona Clash. Forty two cup cars ran against the clock for the inside and outside pole qualifying spots. William Byron rocketed to his first-ever pole at NASCAR’s top level, touring the 2.5-mile Daytona Int’l Speedway in 46.319 seconds (194.305 mph) to place the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on point for the Daytona 500. Byron’s teammate, Alex Bowman laid down the fastest lap in the first round at 46.408 seconds (193.932 mph), but couldn’t quite pick up enough speed to edge out Byron when it came down to crunch time.

Bowman still secured a front-row starting spot, however, qualifying second-quick with a time of 46.355 seconds (194.154 mph) in the No. 88

In the Daytona Clash event, Jimmie Johnson never led a green-flag lap during the annual non-points exhibition event that spotlights the previous season’s pole winners, but survived contact with Paul Menard and a 17-car crash late in the race to notch the victory at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. After two earlier red flags for rain, Johnson was running second to Menard when he got a push from Kurt Busch going down the backstretch. The seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion ducked low in an effort to make the pass, but Menard moved down to block and the two made contact.

That tangle of sheet metal sent Menard spinning back into the pack at the entrance to turn three, while Johnson kept his No. 48 Ally Financial Chevrolet going straight and came back to the caution flag as the leader.

Moments later, the skies opened up and hard rain officially drew an end to the Clash, which was shortened to 59 laps due to the inclement weather.

Rain forced the postponement of Sunday night’s New Smyrna 175 at New Smyrna Speedway to Monday night. The race is scheduled to go green at 7 p.m., the first race of the night, to kick off another evening of the New Smyrna Speedway World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.

After qualifying was canceled due to precipitation, track crews and Air Titans worked feverishly to dry the track. Showers persisted, and NASCAR was forced to move the 175-lap event to Monday.

NASCAR and NBC Sports Group announced the 2019 broadcast schedule Friday for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

NBCSN is where NASCAR fans can tune-in to watch their favorite regional drivers – from the up-and-coming stars of tomorrow to the local heroes who make these series their home. NBCSN will air a total of 37 regional events from 27 different venues, including the series openers and championship finales for all three series.

The season will kick off on NBCSN on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. ET with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East from Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West opener from the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will air on Tuesday, March 5 at 6 p.m., followed by the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Myrtle Beach Speedway on Thursday, March 21 at 6 p.m. ET.

The TV package also includes Whelen Modified Tour Series events at South Boston, VA, Wall Stadium in New Jersey, Seekonk in Mass, New Hampshire International, Thompson in Conn, Riverhead on Long Island and the Stafford Motorspeedway in Conn.

NASCAR announced last Monday that it will disqualify race-winning cars that break the rules this season, confronting its longtime culture of cheating with a stringent new penalty system.

On a sad note, Dr Robert Hubbard, the engineer behind the HANS device that has saved many lives in motorsport, passed away on Tuesday aged 75. Hubbard, who was a professor of materials science and mechanics at Michigan State University until his retirement in 2006, conceived the HANS device in collaboration with his brother-in-law and IMSA racer Jim Downing.

Although it took some time for their pioneering work to be accepted in racing, the HANS has subsequently become compulsory equipment in many categories. Hubbard was closely involved in road safety long before he developed the HANS.

He completed a PhD on the mechanical properties of skull bone while working at the University of Michigan Highway Safety Research Institute, and in the 1970s he worked for General Motors, researching injuries and developing crash test dummies.

The HANS was born when Downing and Hubbard realized that drivers were being killed in racing accidents because their heads were not being restrained, which led to basilar skull fractures.

On the speedway stock market scene last week, two of the three speedway stocks were up for the week. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.99 to 17.33 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.22 to 43.47 while Dover Entertainment dropped 0.01 to 1.99. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage dropped 0.06 to 57.89. NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.68 to 14.36. The auto makers ended the week on a negative note. General Motors dropped 0.08 to 38.70, Ford dropped 0.33 to 8.39 and Toyota dropped 4.69 to 117.31. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 0.17 to 184.54 and Lowes went up 0.06 to 97.17. In the area of big team sponsors stocks, Coca-Cola went up 3.78 to 220.77 while McDonalds dropped 1.97 to 174,75, Target dropped 0.29 to 70.88, Dow/Dupont dropped 2.76 to 51.71, Fedex dropped 2.07 to 177.24 and Porter Cable-Stanley Works dropped 0.97 to 126.82.

On the tube this week:

Thursday, February 14
2:30 PM, NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Daytona practice, Fox Sports 2
4:30 PM, NGOTS Daytona final practice, FS2
7:00 PM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Daytona qualifying race 1, Fox Sports 1
8:45 PM, MENCS Daytona qualifying race 2, FS1
10:00 PM, Unrivaled: Earnhardt VS Gordon, FS1

Friday, February 15
12:00 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Daytona practice, FS1
1:00 PM, MENCS Daytona practice, FS1
2:00 PM, NXS Daytona final practice, FS1
3:00 PM, MENCS Daytona practice, FS1
4:30 PM, NGOTS Daytona qualifying, FS1
7:30 PM, NGOTS Daytona race, FS1

Saturday, February 16
9:30 AM, NXS Daytona qualifying, FS1
12:00 PM, MENCS Daytona final practice, FS1
2:30 PM, NXS Daytona race, FS1

Sunday, February 17
2:30 PM, MENCS Daytona 500, FOX