RPW Column: The Champ Trail; Speedweeks For Modifieds…Inching Ever Closer…

RPW Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The count down to Speedweeks in Florida continues. In three short weeks central Florida comes alive with the sound of racing engines as the 2020 auto racing season begins.

The week plus of speed in the sunshine state will culminate on Sunday, February 16 with the running of the Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway.

The World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at the New Smyrna Speedway begins with a practice day on Thursday, February 6. Racing begins on Friday, February 7 with the Modifieds making their debut on Monday, February 10. If the pre-series entry list is any indication there will be action a plenty in the Modified division. Among those who have filed entries are as follows:

2 J.R Bertuccio Franklin TN, 4 Jeffrey Gallup Feeding Hills MA, 6 Ryan Preece Berlin CT, 17 Jeremy Gestner Tampa FL, 21 Paul Townsend Guelph ON, 1 Jimmy Blewett Howell NJ, 22 Eddie McCarthy Brick NJ, 27 Adam LaCicero, Lavallette NJ, 36 David Sapienza Riverhead NY, 45 Brett Meservey Brewsyer MA, 45 Timmy Catalano Ontario NY, 54 Tommy Catalano Ontario NY, 56 Amy Catalano Ontario NY, 58 Eric Goodale Riverhead NY, 59 Teddy Cranmer North Hanover NJ, 60 Matt Hirschman North Hampton PA and 83 Mike Willis JR Grantham NH.

In addition, One of the nation’s most popular short track racers has teamed up with a NASCAR Cup Series driver to make his Tour-type Modified debut this February. Super Late Model ace Bubba Pollard will drive Ryan Preece’s Modified during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway.

Thompson Speedway is expected to make an announcement in the not to distant future concerning their weekly racing. The speedway has cut all race division purses in half and is expecting a commitment by Jan 15. If competitors refuse to comply the speedway will more than likely drop their weekly program.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will enshrine the Hall’s 11th class, Buddy Baker, Joe Gibbs, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart and Waddell Wilson. In addition, Edsel Ford II will be honored as the recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. The ceremony will feature presentations about inductees from prominent members of the NASCAR community, with the evening culminating in their official induction.

Billy Harman is scheduled for triple by-pass surgery this week. NEW DATE FOR SURGERY. Wed, 15 JANUARY.

Florida chauffeur Jeremy Gerstner, 2018 Southern Modified Racing Series champion will team up with Phil Stefanelli’s PSR Racing in 2020. The team will debut at the 5th annual Kick Off To Speedweek 50 powered by Sunoco February 8th @ Bronson Speedway with Gerstner hoping to make his way to victory lane at the conclusion of the 50-lapper.

Jimmy Blewett will be one of three Gershow Motorsports drivers hitting the high banks of Bronson Speedway Saturday February 8th for the 5th annaul Kick Off To Speedweek. Blewett will be joined by JR Bertuccio and a third yet to be named driver.

Thursday morning Jan 9 brought the sad news that John Stygar has passed away. John never sought the limelight; hell, he usually HID from it. Stygar was the car owner and mechanic for the famed “dollar sign” coupes, driven by Eddie Flemke and his place in Modified history is assured. The sport was built upon sturdy bricks like John.