RPW Exclusive: The Champ Trail; Lots Of Racing In Florida, Sponsor Announcements & More

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The annual World Series of Auto Racing at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida shifted into high gear on Monday running a make-up K & N event that was rained out plus the first of five tour type Modified events that were scheduled.

Doug Coby and Phil Moran went to New Smyrna to get a leg up on their competition in the 2019 Whelen Modified Tour Series. If Monday night was any indication it appeared that they did their homework. Coby started on the pole and never looked back as he led the entire 50 lap distance to record the win in the 24 car starting field. Second place finisher Patrick Emerling was never a factor. Matt Hirschman finished third after a late race surge. Jimmy Blewett was never a factor as he finished fourth. Anthony Nocella rounded out the top five. Ryan Preece ran his first of three scheduled races but fell victim to a broken shifter which put him two laps down.

In the super late model division, Pollard also earned his first World Series triumph aboard David Rogers familiar No. 11. Other feature winners on the evening included Augie Grill in the pro late model class and Travis Eddy in the Florida Modified division. Derek Kraus won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East opener that kicked off the night of racing.

Ryan Preece got redemption on Tuesday night in Round 2 of the tour type Modified competition. Driving a brand new Chassis Dynamics Modified built by Mike Paquette that was powered by a Mike Petit Racing Engine, Preece cruised to a win after taking the lead from Tommy Catalano on lap 13. Earlier in the evening Preece had garnered the pole but because of a re-draw, started eighth on the 22 car starting field.

One caution with two wrecks, slowed the event. The yellow waved for Jeffrey Gallup who hit the wall in turn two. On the ensuing restart Anthony Nocella spun in turn two which triggered a pig pile which ended up with Andy Jankowiac sitting on top of Patrick Emerling. Following the restart it was all green to the finish on lap 35. Following Preece at the 35 lap finish was Jimmy Blewett, Doug Coby, Chuck Hossfeldt, Tommy Catalano, Amy Catalano and Nocella.

In other Tuesday night action at New Smyrna, Bubba Pollard picked up where he left off on Monday with his second-straight victory in David Rogers’ No. 11 in Super Late Model competition. Other feature winners included Augie Grill in the Florida Modifieds and Jeremy Miller in the pro late model class.

It rained on and off just about all day Wednesday with some doubt as to whether New Smyrna would get to run. Just before darkness set in the sun popped out and racing was on. A not so great forecast kept the crowd down the racing was top shelf. Big Money Matt Hirschman was the spoiler as he made it two in a row as he won the John Blewett III Memorial 76 lapper.

Ryan Preece took the lead on the start from his outside pole starting spot. Doug Coby displaced Preece from the top spot on lap 3. For the first of many times Nikki Carroll spun on lap 25 and brought out the caution.

On the restart, Preece used a bottom shot to retake the lead and dragged Hirschman along for good measure. Coby slipped to third while Tommy Catalano and Chuck Hossfeld broke into the top five. At the 35 lap mark Preece continued to lead with Hirschman, Tommy Catalano, Hossfeld, Jeff Goodale, Dave Sapienza, Blewett, Coby, Emerling and Jankowiak making up the top ten.

Jeff Goodale’s strong run came to an end on lap 51 when a suspension part broke, sending him in hard into the wall between turns three and four. On the restart Preece continued to lead with Hirschman, Sapienza, Tommy Catalano, and Jankowiac rounding out the top five.

Hirschman turned up the wick and the pressure was on to get by Preece. The fruits of his efforts came to bear as Hirschman got the bite he needed following a lap 60 restart. Coming out of turn two Hirschman got his nose under Preece to execute the pass for the lead. In a high speed sprint to the finish, Hirschman led the charge to the checkered flag. Hossfeld finished second with Dave Sapienza, third. Doug Coby and Jimmy Zacharias rounded out the top five. Amy Catalano, Patrick Emerling, Dillon Steuer, Ryan Preece and Jeremy Gerstner rounded out the top ten. The tour type modified #2 of Doug Coby was disqualified from the “John Blewett III Memorial” race. Officials made the determination that the crew made an unapproved tire change. Coby was scored at the end of the lead pack.

In the 35-lap super late model feature, Brad May secured his first victory of the week after previously finishing second three times. Other winners on Wednesday included Sammy Smith in the pro late model division and Wayne Parker in the Florida Modified class.

A final tribute was bestowed upon the late George Summers posthumously as he was inducted into NASCAR’s Living Legends of Auto Racing Hall of Fame on Wednesday night. Peggy Summers accepted the award surrounded by her family. A tip of the hat to Dick Berggren who did an outstanding job of highlighting George’s career.

Up until last Thursday Timmy Solomito and his Flamingo Racing entry had been less than impressive in tour type Modified action at New Smyrna. Solomito had started sixth and by lap 9 of the 35 lap-20 car feature, passed Doug Coby for the lead. Solomito was well on his way to recording his first win in the series when he got snakebit again. Following a restart on lap28 Solomito and Tommy Catalano made contact on the backstretch. While the two were struggling to regain control Matt Hirschman seized the moment with a bold move and shot into the lead. Hirschman went on to record the win, making it two in a row. Solomito recovered and finished second. Catalano also recovered but was passed by Chuck Hossfeld and Bobby Measmer, placing him fifth.

Other winners on Thursday night were Bubba Pollard on the Super Late Models, Jamie Skinner in the Pro Late Models and Jerry Symons in the Florida Modifieds.

Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano won the Daytona 500 qualifying races (Duels) in a pair of Ford sweeps that gave the new Mustang positioned for a strong showing in “The Great American Race.”. Harvick won the first of the 150-mile qualifying races Thursday night that set the field for NASCAR’s showcase event. Logano used a last-lap pass for the lead in the second one.

Ryan Preece ran in the first 150 and after starting 15th finished 10th.

The Friday night Richie Evans 100 closed out the tour type segment of the World Series at New Smyrna. Matt Hirschman won the final battle but it was consistent Chuck Hossfeld who won the war (Series Championship). Hirschman started sixth. Doug Coby took the lead at the start with Tommy Catalano in tow. By lap 32 Hirschman had advanced to the runner-up spot. Going down the backstretch on lap 41Hirschman put Coby away as they entered turn three. From then on Hirschman kept the field at bay as he cruised to victory. A competition caution for fuel and tires didn’t make any difference as Hirschman continued unchallenged.

At the finish it was Hirschman followed by Jimmy Blewett, Anthony Nocella, Tommy Catalano, Patrick Emerling, Dave Sapienza, Hossfeld, Calvin Carroll, Coby and Jim Zacharias.

The NASCAR trucks ran at the Daytona International Speedway on Friday night. It was a high speed demolition derby to say the least. Of the 32 trucks that started only nine were running at the end. Austin Hill was the winner. Eleven cautions slowed the event as 55 of the 111 laps were under caution.

Saturday at Daytona saw the Xfinity cars in the spotlight for a 300 mile event. Michael Annett won the Xfinity opener at Daytona, inheriting the lead on Lap 75 and never looking back. Teammate Justin Allgaier finished second, followed by the No. 19 of Brandon Jones.

Hudson New Hampshire driver Derek Griffith drove to a dominant victory in the 100-lap Orange Blossom 100 for super late models Saturday during the final night of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway.

Griffith took the lead for the final time on lap 77 from Jett Noland and pulled away in the closing laps, easily besting runner-up Bubba Pollard for his first checkered flag during the World Series. Pollard settled for second in David Rogers No. 11, which was enough to give Pollard the overall super late model title during the World Series. Pollard earned three victories earlier in the week, which helped catapult him to a comfortable lead entering Saturday’s finale.

Noland finished the Orange Blossom 100 third after leading the most laps. Tate Fogleman and reigning USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series champion Logan Seavey completed the top-five.

George Gorham won the sportsman feature, Wayne Parker won the Florida Modified main, Cody Haskins earned another pro truck triumph and Michael Trocki claimed the super stock checkers.

Denny Hamlin came to the Daytona 500 determined to honor his late car owner with a victory.

He delivered in a storybook tribute for Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin won NASCAR’s biggest race for the second time in four years. Hamlin and Busch alternated as the leaders during the handful of late restarts, and the final rush to the checkered flag was a push to hold off Ford driver and reigning NASCAR champion Joey Logano. The Ford camp went 1-2-3 in both of Thursday’s qualifying races and was favored to win the Daytona 500. Logano, who started his career at JGR, settled for fourth.

Rookie Ryan Preece, was best in class with an eighth-place finish. Going into the final restart Preece was in fifth spot but got shuffled by a couple of veterans. Needless to say, he did good in his first attempt at the cup level at Daytona.

Congratulations to Connecticut based MPZ Motorsports who announced its new partnership with Foxwoods Resort Casino as a primary sponsor for six races on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series during the 2019 race season.

MPZ Motorsports owner, Max Zachem, was sponsored by Foxwoods Resort Casino back when he raced Legends racecars. “I am excited to have Foxwoods back onboard with MPZ Motorsports for the 2019 season and have enjoyed much success with them in the past,” Zachem said. “I look forward to parking my Foxwoods-sponsored modified in Victory Lane once again this year.”

Located in southeastern Connecticut, Foxwoods Resort Casino is one of the largest resort casinos in North America,

On the speedway stock market scene last week, two of the three speedway stocks had positive endings. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.11 to 43.58 while Dover Entertainment went up 0.01 to 2.00. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.05 to 17.28. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage went up 0.83 to 58.72. NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.69 to 15.05 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.10 to 18.79. The auto manufacturers were all positive. Ford went up 0.15 to 8.54 and General Motors went up 0.39 to 39.09. Toyota went up 3.84 to 121.15. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 7.85 to 192.39 and Lowes went up 7.07 to 104.24. In big team sponsor’s stocks, McDonalds went up 5.22 to 179.97, Coca-Cola went up 4.41 to 225.18, Target Department Stores went up 2.76 to 72.84, Dow/Dupont went up 2.53 to 54.24, Fedex went up 2.06 to 179.30 and Porter Cable Stanley Works went up 9.57 to 136.39.