The 51st annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing kicked off Thursday at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) with Super Late Models, Pro Late Models, Florida Modifieds and Tour-type Modifieds practicing.
Ty Majeski and Harrison Burton exchanged the spot at the top of the time sheets throughout Thursday’s practice. Majeski, the defending Super Late Model champion, was testing two cars just in case anything comes up during the week. Majeski was fastest in the first two sessions while driving his orange car, nicknamed “Billy.”
“I think the [orange] car is definitely better,” he told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We put it in the trailer because it’s where it needs to be and we want to try to work on this one and make it better. We made a little bit of a gain on it, but we have a decision to make on what car we’re going to run tomorrow. Either one I think will be plenty competitive, but right now I’m thinking the orange one will be the better choice.
“That is the one we ran the Governor’s Cup with, it only has about 10 races on it. We built it in 2015, but it’s won the Rattler 250, set the track record at the (Snowball) Derby, ran third two years in a row at the Derby, so it’s definitely our most accomplished car. But this is the newest one that we’re just trying to find the balance with a little bit.”
Burton, the recent SpeedFest Super Late Model winner, rode his wave of momentum in the second half of the day, sweeping the final two sessions.
“We learned a whole lot about our race car and got it better as the day went on,” Burton said. “We mocked up there and went fastest on the board, so that was a good thing for us. We’re just trying to build on it. Tomorrow is the first race day and we’ll truly find out who’s fastest and who’s not.”
Burton’s SpeedFest win was considered the biggest win of his career against some of the toughest racers in the country, but there’s one driver he didn’t beat there. He’s hoping to prove himself this weekend against the driver considered by many to be the best in the county.
“It was a huge win and there was a lot of good competition there. But there’s one guy here that we didn’t beat and that’s the 91 (Majeski),” Burton stated. “Hopefully we can beat him this week and prove that we’re definitely a team to be reckoned with.”
2016 ARCA Midwest Tour race winner Derek Kraus had some problems during the third practice session, simply saying, “we just have the wrong gear in.” The team changed gears and went back out, finishing fourth in the final practice of the day.
STOKES AND DAVIS PACE PLM
Carter Stokes, who had two top-five finishes in last year’s World Series and 2014 Pro Late Model World Series champion Spencer Davis were in the top five all day in Pro Late Model practice. The two traded fast times in sessions two and three, with Davis taking the top spot in the second session, and Stokes taking the third.
MILLINGTON STRUGGLES IN PRO LATE MODEL PRACTICE
Ryan Millington, who won three times in Late Model Stock Cars at Hickory (N) last season, had problems with his engine, needing a new Harmonic Balancer, a part that his team says they have ordered and will be at the track tomorrow.
PREECE PACES TOUR-TYPE MODS
A handful of Tour-type Modifieds took the track on Thursday despite not racing at New Smyrna until Monday night. 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece paced the field for the last two sessions, while Chuck Hossfeld led the first.
“It’s just a really good car, I’m really happy with this Troyer TA2,” said Preece, the two-time defending Tour-type Modified champion. “Eddie and Connie (Partridge), I’ve got to thank them because obviously we’re doing this another season and it’s always fun racing with them. Every time we come here to New Smyrna I feel like we have a car that can contend for the win. We have some more competition this year with (Matt) Hirschman, (Jon) McKennedy, (Chuck) Hossfeld, a lot of guys so it might be a little bit tougher but I feel like we have a racy car.
BERTUCCIO CRASHES BACK-UP CAR
JR Bertuccio made hard contact with the outside wall after cutting a right-front tire while shaking down his No. 2 Tour-type Modified backup car. While the team has a primary car for New Smyrna, they planned on taking the backup to Bronson Speedway on Saturday. The crew believe it will be an easy fix and they will still be able to race at Bronson.
EDDY EASES TO LEAD IN FL MODS
Florida Modifieds also took to the half-mile track, with Travis Eddy consistently fast. During last year’s World Series, Eddy amassed a plethora of top-five finishes and looks speedy so far.
For a full on-demand recap of Thursday’s practice, visit Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage presented by JRi Shocks.
-Story by Reese Nobles, Speed51.com Mid-Atlantic Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com