It's one of the greatest marathons in all of short track racing, with nine straight nights of hard-nosed competition over multiple divisions. It also serves as the ultimate escape from winter’s cold embrace. The World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) is already shaping into a dandy, with multiple drivers already filing their official entries in four of the competing divisions.
Once again drivers from up and down the east coast and beyond will be making their way to Florida Speedweeks on February 7-16.
Leading the way in entries as of January 7 is the Tour-type Modified division, which last season saw its biggest roster in 25 years. The “Ground Pounders” are already boasting 15 entries and feature a mix of former World Series winners and champions, some familiar challengers, and even a new face that is very familiar amongst his fans from the Northeast.
That of course is Andy Jankowiak, who announced his entry back in December along with the McGrath No. 12x team. This will be their first time competing together outside the Race of Champions (RoC) Asphalt Modified Series.
The Catalano family will also make the trip down from Upstate New York next month with a trio of cars in tow, with Amy, Timmy, and Tommy Catalano all filing entry blanks. In addition to competing in the RoC, Tommy Catalano is also celebrating the 2018 Rookie of the Year title on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Last year’s World Series champion in the Tour -type Modifieds, Matt Hirschman found success all across the map in 2018. The Pennsylvania driver celebrated multiple RoC victories, a return to the winner’s circle on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, and another title on the Tri-Track Open Modified Series. He’ll be back at New Smyrna for more next month.
The man with the busiest schedule during Florida Speedweeks may be that of Ryan Preece, but that isn’t stopping the multi-time World Series champion from making an appearance at New Smyrna as he prepares for his debut in the Daytona 500 with JTG-Daugherty Racing.
The Long Island gang is set to get some stiff representation next month too, with Timmy Solomito looking to finally check off his first World Series win. Meanwhile, Joe Bertuccio will be spearheading the effort for the Gershow Motorsports team.
To the north, Mike Willis Jr. and Jeffrey Gallup will make their way down from New England. Both drivers impressed many during their World Series debuts in 2018, which saw both drivers challenging the front-runners night after night.
Bobby Measmer is the first representative of North Carolina and the Bowman Gray Stadium roster of drivers entered for the 2019 World Series. Fellow southern drivers Gary Fountain and now two-time Southern Modified Racing Series champion Jeremy Gerstner lead the home guard for the Sunshine State.
The narrow-wheeled cousins in the Florida Modifieds have gotten their first entries for the 2019 World Series, with Bill Burba, Zach Knowles, Ben Bosowski, and Rick Warnes being the opening quartet of entries.
On the full-bodied side of things, the Super and Pro Late Models are seeing their first entries following the excitement of last Saturday’s Red Eye 50/50.
The Super Late Models will feature the likes of 2018 Pro All Stars Series National Champion Derek Griffith, as well as Gabe Sommer, Harold Crooms, and Steve Weaver Jr. entering.
Carson Kvapil, the Outlaw Kart racing standout at North Carolina’s Millbridge Speedway, made his grand introduction to Super Late Model racing last year on the ARCA Midwest Tour. The son of former NASCAR Truck Series Champion Travis Kvapil is now prepared to make his debut at New Smyrna in February.
Though not officially entered yet, Saturday’s Red Eye Super Late Model Ryan Moore announced in victory lane that he will be back for the World Series to try and win his second title.
The Pro Late Models are also taking shape, with Tim Sargent, Jeremy Miller, Kevin Folan, Sam Johnson, and Dalton Smith being the first five to file their entries for their slate of seven races.
Be sure to check back with Speed51.com for more on the 52nd Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com