Forget the Past
We hear a lot of old timers talk about how good the old days of New Smyrna were. But the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing's most recent past, the 2013 edition, was pretty impressive. The Super Late Model title went down to the wire and the field on Friday and Saturday were among the strongest SLM fields all year. Chase Elliott, Bubba Pollard, Kyle Benjamin, Dylan Kwasniewski, David Rogers, Kenzie Ruston, were just a few of the big names in the mix for the big-race paydays at the end of the week last year.
And that was only one division. Each division's championship went down to the final night and the Richie Evans Memorial had a side-by-side finish for the win. The past is good to talk about, but some of the best racing you can see all season will take place this month at New Smyrna.
Making More History
In the 48 years of the World Series at New Smyrna nothing has been like what will take place on Sunday night, February 16. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series will kick off 2014 with their first visit on the high banks at New Smyrna. Thirty-three K&N East teams are pre-entered for the first-ever event. The K&N drivers will not be alone as the Modifieds will run that night as well in a short distance event.
Tucker vs. Symons - Chapter 234?
When it comes to the Florida/IMCA Modified field, the odds-on favorites are clearly Tank Tucker and Jerry Symons. The two Modified veterans have combined for nine championships in the Florida Modified division. Despite neither winning the championship last year, they are a pair to watch come this year's World Series.
Symons won the Modified race at the Pete Orr Memorial night and told Speed51.com that he plans on running his Pro Late Model on select nights. He's no stranger to that as he won the FASCAR Challenge Series title in 2002.
We mentioned the titles, but as far as the wins, Tucker has 19 and Symons has 40 overall at New Smyrna's World Series. Those numbers are pretty impressive considering the Florida/IMCA Modified division doesn't run every night.
Super Stocks, Mini Stocks and Sportsmen all will have their nights to be showcased during Smyrna Speedweeks. Each class will go 50 laps on different nights to help fill out the card. David Russell is the defending champion in Mini Stock division, Donald Williams was the top Sportsman driver in 2013 and Shannon Kelly was the Super Stock champ.
Trump This Number
Ted Christopher will not be racing this season at the World Series, but his numbers are going to be hard to top. The 43-time Modified feature winner has taken home nine Modified championships - 10 if you count his co-SK Modified title in 1991 with his brother. With the absence of TC this year, others will have to step up and add to their legacy. Chuck Hossfeld enters with 10 wins and could move into the top five all time in NASCAR Tour Type Modified victories.
1. Ted Christoper 43
2. Richie Evans 39
3. Reggie Ruggiero 28
4. Rick Fuller 16
5. Tom Baldwin 14
6. Chuck Hossfeld 10
Streaks Are Alive and Look to Keep Going
In the Late Model ranks champions keeping coming out of the woodworks each season. Since the start of the Pro Late Model series in 2007, seven drivers have won the championship with no repeats. That is also true in the Super Late Model ranks with 12 different drivers winning over the past 12 years.
Fast forwarding to this season we know Brandon Johnson will return to run in the Pro Late Model ranks and could be the first repeat champion in the division since it was established.
On the Super Late Model side the spoiler could come from many directions, Kyle Benjamin, David Rogers and defending champion Ryan Moore are among the favorites.
Research Still Going, but Junior Hanley One of the Best Ever
Our statistical research team or Elgin Traylor & Tim Quievryn have pulled together some numbers on the past Super Late Model winners. For what the track has on record, Junior Hanley is on top by a wide margin. Hanley has 32 wins on the record, but research is still being done.
To The Numbers
1: The car number of two drivers to watch in Super Late Models - Tyler Dippel and Cody Coughlin. Dippel ran well in the Pete Orr Orange Blossom 100 and Coughlin is fresh off a JEGS title and strong runs in big Super Late Model shows in 2013. Coughlin also enjoyers New Smyrna and says it's one of his favorite tracks.
2: Number of SK Modified titles for Ron Silk at New Smyrna. He was a terror with the TS Haulers team the last few years SK's had their own class. Now Silk will look to win a NASCAR Tour Type title.
8: Number of nights of racing at New Smyrna during the World Series.
28: Number of years the Richie Evans Memorial 100 has been run at New Smyrna. Former winners Ron Silk, Eric Goodale, and Matt Hirschman are entered for the World Series and should be the field on Friday night, February 21.
29: Number of features to be run over the eight days at New Smyrna.
37: Number of Super Late Model entries leading into the start of the World Series Thursday. A year ago well over 50 drivers earned points in the top division. But, part of the surprise of the World Series is which drivers will show up and that number is almost sure to grow.
59: Matt Hirschman rode number 59 to 20 wins in 2013 after breaking his wrist at Daytona. One thing Hirschman has not done, however, is win the World Series. Perhaps he can put all the pieces together and claim a championship. His first win was already dramatic at Speedweeks in 2009 when they won a feature after nearling rolling his Modified just the night before.
61: Number of Pro Late Model races run during Speedweeks all time. A total of 26 drivers have won features. Patrick Laperle and Drew Brannon have each won four and that's the most.
77: We wanted to inform everyone that Ross Kenseth will be in a new number and will be at Speedweeks racing for what could be a championship.
100: The number of Super Late Model laps to be run on the final in the Bruce Gowland Memorial. The 100 laps will decide the week-long points title and at the same time will crown the Florida Triple Crown title.