Race teams from six different divisions made their way into New Smyrna Speedway on Thursday afternoon to test their machines for the 49th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. Throughout the four hour practice session, there were many teams that experienced highs and many teams that experienced lows.
BURTON’S FOCUS ON SUPER LATE MODEL PAYS OFF ON PRACTICE DAY
When Harrison’s Burton No. 12 hauler shows up at a race track, most fans are accustomed to seeing two cars in the team’s pit area. That isn’t the case this weekend, as the team made the decision to leave their Late Model home and focus their efforts on their Super Late Model program.
So far, the decision seems to be paying off for Burton as he turned in the fastest lap (17.762 seconds) of the day around the half-mile New Smyrna Beach, Florida oval on Thursday afternoon. Burton also finished the second practice session second on the speed chart, just .001 seconds slower than Stephen Nasse.
Overall, Burton was happy with the day’s practice and the team’s focus on their Super Late Model.
“We didn’t want to have to go back and forth with different cars all week,” Burton told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We just wanted to concentrate on the Super (Late Model) since we’re steering towards that program this season. Eventually we’ll run nothing but the Super. We’re getting an idea of where we are and where we want to be and we’re using Speedweeks as kind of a measuring stick for that.”
After Speedweeks, Burton plans on competing in select Southern Super Series, Pro All Stars Series and CARS Super Late Model Tour races in 2015.
PREECE ALREADY FINDING A GROOVE WITH NEW TEAM
Ryan Preece is just happy to be away from the snow and racing in sunny Florida during the 49th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. The Berlin, Connecticut native began his journey from his home state to New Smyrna Beach, Florida early in order to avoid the most recent snow storm in the Northeast.
When the engines fired on Thursday afternoon, Preece had even more reason to be happy. The 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, who is making his second start in the TS Haulers No. 6 ride, topped the Tour-Type Modified speed chart in all three of Thursday’s sessions.
“It’s been really good since we unloaded,” said Preece. “This last run we just made a change in gear and a few other things. The car has just been really consistent this entire time. The real test will be the race tomorrow, but we’re going to have a good car all week. That’s for sure.”
Driving the Eddie & Connie Partridge-owned Modified is something that Preece is really looking forward to over the course of the next two weeks. During previous World Series events, driving his family-owned No. 41, he has always seemed to finish second to the No. 6 car. This year, driving the car he’s finished second to so often, Preece is hoping he can finally put everything together to leave New Smyrna with a championship.
“I think it’s a lot of fun coming down with a team I’ve finished second to so many times,” said Preece. “My father always gave me a good car here. Unfortunately we would just always finish second to Eddie and Connie. Now, fortunately, I have the opportunity to drive for them.”
“There are not a lot of people that are like my father as far as work ethic, but (crew chief) Tommy (Grasso) is definitely right there. He works his butt off. We put the motor in about two weeks ago at the shop. Then I go to race Atlantic City and I showed up on Saturday, not even five days later, and the car was already on the scales. I couldn’t believe it.”
According to 51’s Third Turn, Preece has 7 top-fives and 14 top-10s in 20 career starts at the World Series. He’ll be looking to pick up his first win in his 21st start on Friday night.
JR BERTUCCIO FORCED TO CHANGE ENGINES AFTER FINAL PRACTICE
NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour competitor JR Bertuccio was forced to put in extra work on Thursday night after experiencing engine problems during final practice. A member of Bertuccio’s crew informed 51 that the team broke a piston in the engine, but said the team plans to have everything ready to go for the first night of racing on Friday.
NASSE PUTS TOGETHER LAST MINUTE DEAL TO RACE PRO LATE MODEL
Stephen Nasse had no intention of pulling double-duty at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) during the 49th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. However, that changed on Thursday afternoon after he turned in an impressive performance while shaking down Kurt Jett’s No. 9.
Nasse of Pinellas Park, Florida recorded the fastest lap of the day for Pro Late Models and by doing so secured himself at least a part-time PLM ride for the week. He currently has plans to be behind the wheel of the car for the first two nights of PLM action and the PPG TOP GUN® Sealants 100 on February 19.
GRIESBACH SUFFERS DAMAGE AFTER CONTACT WITH WALL
13-year-old Grant Greisbach’s No. 17 required the assistance of a wrecker after making contact with the outside wall in turn three during the first Pro Late Model practice of the day. The car suffered severe right front suspension damage, but the crew assured Speed51.com that they’d have the car fixed for Friday afternoon.
SLINGER NATIONALS WINNER TO GET BEHIND THE WHEEL AT NEW SMYRNA
2014 Slinger Nationals winner Chris Wimmer was in attendance at New Smyrna Speedway on Thursday afternoon. Wimmer was behind the wheel of Paige Decker’s No. 03 for the first practice session and told Speed51.com that he plans to race the car next Tuesday night at the track with the possibility of additional races.
When not racing, he will be assisting the three Decker sisters in their efforts at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Visit Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage presented by JRi Shocks for full practice results, photos and more.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com