More than 30 Tour-type Modified cars hit the track at New Smyrna Speedway Monday ahead of their first feature race in the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. The large entry list has drummed up plenty of excitement entering the week, but many Modified racers are taking a business-as-usual approach to the World Series.
Craig Lutz, last year’s World Series runner-up, knows some of the biggest names in the Modified world are on hand this weekend in Florida. In that sense, it reminds him of major Modified races in the Northeast.
“It’s just like any big race up north,” Lutz told Speed51. “You’ve got 35-plus cars. It’s a good field of cars running up front. Hopefully, anyone off the pace will be able to stay out of the way. You have the best of the best here.”
2018 Turkey Derby winner David Sapienza says the key to navigating this week will be knowing who you are racing against on any given lap. Situational awareness will be key on a busy race track against Modified racing’s top guns.
“You just have to know what teams you’re racing with, who you’re racing with,” said Sapienza. “You’ve just got to know when to be cautious and when you can make moves.
“You just have to be aware of your surroundings. It’s a pretty fast track, but there’s room for error. People can correct themselves. I don’t think there will be an issue. We’ll hopefully be closer to the front and mid-pack and won’t get caught up in any stuff.”
Florida’s Jeremy Gerstner has no apprehensions about racing in a packed field of cars. However, he admits negotiating lapped traffic could prove treacherous.
“I’m nervous about lapped cars. If the lapped traffic doesn’t stay on the bottom, it makes it difficult. You’re always racing somebody side-by-side. To put it three-wide here at New Smyrna is pretty tight. It’s not really more than a two-groove track, so if you have to go three wide, it gets tight.”
Eric Goodale likely shares the sentiment of racers and fans alike this week, whether they are in Florida or watching from home. He is mostly excited to get the season underway and get some racing under his belt.
“I’m just excited to be back out there and get the season started,” said Goodale. “I’m more excited than nervous, that’s for sure. Hopefully, we’ll get the car dialed in, turn out a good lap in qualifying and stay towards the front. We should be pretty good.”
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-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo / Daryl Canfield