Defending Track Champion Set for Citrus County SLM Opener

After the first two scheduled events at Citrus County Speedway were called off due to inclement weather, the season is finally scheduled to begin at the Florida facility Saturday, February 20 with Super Late Models headlining the night’s action.

 

Defending Citrus County Speedway track champion Anthony Cataldi will be leading the field of Florida’s best into the 3/8ths mile for the first of seven Super Late Model races in 2021, headlined by the Full Throttle 100 on September 18.

 

WATCH THE CITRUS COUNTY SPEEDWAY SEASON OPENER ON SPEED51.TV

 

A full-time schedule at Citrus wasn’t planned for Cataldi in 2020, but after the season opener he felt like he had something to prove to himself.  That trend continued for his team until the halfway point, when they realized he was in the points lead.

 

While he didn’t win a race last season, he finished in the top three in all but one race, when the finished eighth in the Full Throttle 100.  He edged out Anthony Sergi by 18 points to claim the track championship.

 

“When we ran the season opener around February, we never planned to run the full season there.  We just planned to hit and miss races like we usually do every year, hit different racetracks, hit different events,” Cataldi told Speed51’s “The Bullring.”  “We started of the season there with a third and I was actually really upset with the third because I knew the car had a lot more potential to run better there.  We went back there the next race because I wasn’t going to give up and ran second, then we went back there the next race and I still wasn’t happy with the car, ran third again.

 

“After three or four races our worst finish was third.  We had strong runs there and about halfway through the season we were like well, we’re leading the points.  We’ve got to run all the races now.  We ended up running all the races and winning the championship.  We didn’t win any races that year but we were really close.  Other than the last race, our worst finish was third all year.”

 

Before last season, Cataldi hadn’t competed at Citrus since 2013 with the now-defunct Florida United Promoters Late Model Series.  Since that time, the track underwent a repave, creating a whole new racetrack he had to get reaccustomed to.

 

“There was a real learning curve.  I hadn’t been there since they repaved it four or five years ago.  I hadn’t been there in a Super Late Model so it was definitely challenging.  A lot of the guys that were there full-time had been racing there throughout the years so they had a leg up on us.”

 

After competing with the CARS Super Late Model Tour full-time in 2018 with Crooks Racing, Cataldi has spent the past couple years closer to home in Central Florida.  More of the same is expected for him in 2021, but he still plans to venture outside the region a little bit more this season.

 

“We are going to stay a little bit closer to home, venture up to Five Flags to run a couple events up there in preparation for the Derby.  We’ve also got a Wheelman Series car so we’ll run some of those as well.”

 

With the new season and a potential title defense set to begin at Citrus this weekend, he gave a quick preview of what to expect for the 75-lap feature Saturday night.

 

“You’re going to have an upwards of low to mid-20’s for car count.  There’s going to be a lot of good names in the field.  It’ll be a tight field as it always is, Citrus puts on good two-groove racing action.  It’ll be a good field of cars like it always is.”

 

The Citrus County Speedway season opener will be broadcasted live on Speed51.TV, highlighted by the Super Late Models.  Click here to watch Saturday’s event.

 

Click here to watch a replay of Speed51.TV’s The Bullring.

 

-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Corresopndent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo

Defending Track Champion Set for Citrus County SLM Opener