For many years, New Smyrna Speedway (FL) has served as David Rogers’ personal playground. With three NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Florida championships and a National title to his name and a countless amount of wins, the Orlando, Florida native is one of the most accomplished drivers to ever compete at the track.
At the age of 60, Rogers will look to add to his storied career at the New Smyrna Beach oval on November 15 during the 50th Annual Florida Governor’s Cup, a race which he has previously won on two occasions.
Despite his success, Rogers will enter the race with a winless streak dating back to August 17, 2013. Since that time he has clinched three straight NWAAS championships at the track but he’s done it with consistency.
Now, with the track’s biggest race of the season on the horizon, he’s hoping he can put an end to that winless streak and celebrate his third win in the prestigious Super Late Model event.
“We haven’t been dominant like we used to be at New Smyrna,” Rogers admitted. “We’ve had a good car, but only good enough to run second a few times. Long races are usually more into my wheelhouse anyways. I’m better in the long runs than the short runs. We’ve got a good race car and we’ve made some improvements.”
Although he hasn’t visited victory lane as often as he would have like recently, Rogers still possesses the competitive desire to win races on his home turf.
Given the circumstances and given the situation of a 200-lap Super Late Model race, he believes that he’ll be competitive enough to contend for the Governor’s Cup win.
“I still remember how to win, just because I haven’t won in a long time doesn’t mean I don’t remember,” Rogers joked. “I am still getting short term on that because of the age, that’s always eating me alive, but I still do remember how to win and I’m sure I can if given the opportunity.”
In recent years when invaders made their way to the track for the annual event, Rogers felt as though he had an advantage as a regular at the track. During normal weekly Super Late Model races, Rogers was able to test out different setups under different conditions to put together a notebook that would lead to Governor’s Cup success.
With only a handful of regular-season Super Late Model races at the track in 2015, Rogers believes he has lost that advantage.
“We raced every week so you’d go with a different test,” Rogers explained. “Where we don’t get to race a lot at New Smyrna, I don’t get an advantage any more. I used to think I had a pretty big advantage on the guys that come from out of town to race with us. I was there every week and basically got to test stuff and got to do all that prep so I was pretty ready when they came. Now I’m no better off than they are because when I go it’s been six weeks since I raced the last time.
“Do I wish that I was running 106 races like we did many, many years ago? No. We ran 104 races one year and a 106 races another year, but I don’t wish for that. I couldn’t handle that, but I wish we could run more races than we run.”
With a scheduled 200 laps on the docket, the Governor’s Cup serves as the longest race of the season at New Smyrna and that’s something that Rogers enjoys. He looks forward to the strategy and the patience that it takes to be running up front during the final 20 laps.
“The Governor’s Cup being a long race and a pretty competitive race, it’s going to be situation where like any time there have been people over the years who have just been dominant for 200 laps, but usually you have comers and goers. The biggest thing is being around the last 20 laps so you have a race car to race for the win.
“The track is getting a little more worn so the tires are a little more of an issue. You’ve got to save your stuff. I want to have my best stuff the last 20 laps, not the first 20.”
If Rogers is around during the last 20 laps and does have what it takes to get to victory lane, his recent drought will be all but forgotten.
“If you’re just going to win one, that’d definitely be the one I want to win for sure.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com