RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Speedweeks Are Almost Here, Preece Going Part Time In Cup Series?

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The countdown to speedweeks in Florida continues as less than a week remains before action begins at the Daytona International Speedway and at the New Smyrna Speedway as the flat lands of central Florida come alive with the sound of racing engines.

The Modifieds, 41 on the entry list, run at New Smyrna starting on Monday, Feb 8 and will finish up with the Richie Evans 100 on Friday, Feb 12. It is anticipated that NBC Track Pass will provide live nightly coverage. Just to give anyone who signed up for NBC gold last year for New Smyrna, your subscription is probably good until May 2021.

NASCAR and SPEED SPORT, America’s Motorsports authority since 1934, announced they will continue their streaming partnership started last year. SPEED SPORT Network will again distribute select NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series events in 2021.

NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series tracks that choose to participate can work directly with SPEED SPORT Network to distribute their events. TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold will continue to show NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series races and coordinate with SPEED SPORT Network to deliver an even wider variety of quality broadcasts on both platforms.

The Green flag drops for the nine night World Series this Friday night, Feb 5. Divisions in competition are the David Rogers Super Late Models, Pro Late Model, Florida Modifieds, Sportsman and Bombers. Night Number 2, Feb 6 will feature David Rogers Super Late Models, Pro Late Model, Florida Modifieds, Sportsman and E-Mods. Sunday night, no.3 features David Rogers Super Late Models, Pro Late Model, Florida Modifieds and eBay Motors 602 Modifieds. Night No.4, Monday Feb 8 will be the first of five nights in a row for the Tour type Modifieds, now over 40 strong. They will be joined by the eBay Motors 602 Modifieds and the ARCA East Series Late Models. Tuesday, Feb 9 will see the David Rogers Super Late Models, Pro Late Model, Tour Modifieds, and eBay Motors 602 Modifieds. Nightly racing action continues on Wednesday Feb 10 with David Rogers Super Late Models, Pro Late Model, Tour Modified and Florida Modifieds. Thursday, night no.7 will feature David Rogers Super Late Models, Pro Late Model, Tour Modifieds and Florida Modifieds. The tour type Modifieds wrap up their five night run on Friday Feb 12 with the Richie Evans 100. Also on the card are the Pro Late Models, Ground Pounders and Pro Trucks. The series wraps up with night no.9 on Saturday, Feb 13 with a 100 lapper for the David Rogers Super Late Models, Florida Modifieds, LKQ Super Stocks and Pro Trucks.

One can expect a battle of the titans in the tour type modifieds between defending series champion Matt Hirschman, Ryan Preece, Doug Coby and Burt Myers to name a few. With 43 modifieds entered it will be tough just to qualify for the feature event.

Driving on the beach at Daytona has been a tradition for many. is now threatened along one short stretch where poles are blocking any vehicles. The Daytona News Journal reported that the Hard Rock Hotel erected the poles along a 410-foot section of beach to prevent driving there. The chair of the Volusia County Council, Jeff Brower, has made beach driving a priority since his election in November. Driving is permitted on about a third of Volusia County’s 47-mile coastline.

Brower told the Daytona Beach News-Journal that the poles are treated with harsh chemicals that could harm beachgoers and that he won’t appear at any events at the Hard Rock until they are removed. Hopefully race fans in Daytona for speedweeks will also avoid the Hard Rock.

Look for Ryan Preece to spend a lot more time in the Eddie Partridge Modified in 2021. Fox Sports reported Friday that Preece will likely run a part-time schedule on the NASCAR Cup Series for JTG Daugherty Racing in 2021 after running full-time for the organization on the Cup Series in 2019 and 2020.

JTG Daugherty’s three-year lease on a Cup Series team charter for Preece’s No. 37 car ran out after the 2020 season.

Preece will kick off his Modified racing schedule for 2021 by competing in some of the Tour Type Modified division at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna.

Around 30,000 fans are expected to attend the Daytona 500, according to NASCAR President Steve Phelps, as the sport continues to try to bring as many spectators as possible back to races. As the sport ramps up for its ’21 season, Phelps revealed that number in an interview with Sports Busines Journal Exec Editor & Publisher Abe Madkour. NASCAR had previously said it would have a reduced capacity for the race but had not given specifics. Daytona seats about 101,000 in its front stretch grandstand and also has room for thousands more in its campgrounds. The 500 is taking place one week after Super Bowl LV in Tampa, which will have about 22,000 fans on site at Raymond James Stadium.

Bristol Motor Speedway had crowds around that 30,000 figure last year and is expected to again for its dirt race in April. The races are among the largest U.S. gatherings that have taken place in sports and entertainment since the pandemic started, but motorsports venues are often far larger and more spread out than other stadiums.

Ginny Potter, daughter of New London-Waterford Spedbowl legend Bob Potter advises that her brother Bob Potter Jr had been having little bouts of confusion, last Wednesday was bad his family took him to the L & M Hospital in New London, Ct and after being evaluated at L & M, he was transported to Yale New Haven with a tumor in one of his lungs and a brain tumor. Bob is currently having surgery to remove the mass from his brain. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers,

Gerard Archambault of Hero’s of Yesteryear Group advises that Pete Fiandaca is back in the hospital with a high fever. Pete seems to have recovered from Covid-19 but has a long way to go before returning to good health.

June 7, 1968 Eddie Flemke got the best of Bugsy Stevens in traffic and came out the winner. Stevens finished second and was followed by Leo Cleary, Dick Watson and Tommy Borget.

The all new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!

On a sad note, John J. Tagg, 88, of Gannett Street, died peacefully on Saturday, January 30, 2021, at the Rose Monahan Hospice Residence in Worcester, Mass. after a short illness. He was predeceased by his wife of 60 years, Ruth J. (Clunan) Tagg who died in 2016. He is survived by two children, Thomas M. Tagg and his wife Linda of Thompson, CT, and Sharon R. Talman and her husband Michael of Oxford; a sister, Norma Caron of Northbridge; four grandchildren, Brian Tagg and his wife Kate of Oxford, Taylor Tagg and her fiancé Andrew Laforce of Oxford, Matthew Talman of Worcester, and Troy Talman of Oxford; two great-granddaughters, Jackie and Julia; and many nephews and nieces.

Mr. Tagg was active in racing. Between 1952 and 1962, he raced 5 nights per week at various tracks. He raced at Mohawk Stadium in Lunenburg and Treasureland in Mass, where he won many races. He worked on #34 race car owned by Dave Farrar and Phil Bedard for many years before becoming owner of the car and racing with his family. In the early 70’s, he raced go-karts with his son Tom, and raced with his family from then until the present. In 1990, he was the crew chief that led a locally-owned modified race team to the Thompson Speedway Track Championship which was driven by his son Tom in 1990, and 25 years later he was crew chief for grandson Brian’s race team as they won the Thompson Speedway Championship. He was also the crew chief of the race team for his grandson Brian, racing the Thompson Speedway Late Model Track Championship. He was an intricate part of the Troy Talman Motorsports Team, being involved with Troy since his start in racing in 2008.

A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, February 4, 2021, at St. Roch’s Church, 332 Main St., Oxford.

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