Recently, New Smyrna Speedway released the schedule for the 50th edition of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing on its website. Everything appeared to be normal at first glance, but then the Modified fans noticed something intriguing. What they discovered is that the Tour-Type Modifieds will only be racing on five nights in 2016, compared to the six nights they have raced in recent years.
For the 2016 version of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, the Tour-Type Modified schedule has not only been shortened by one race, but also condensed. The ground pounders will not pound the New Smyrna pavement until Monday, February 15, which is the fourth night of racing during the World Series.
“The prior schedule meant taking two weeks off of work not to mention the added expense of another week,” said New Smyrna Speedway general manager, Kim Brown. “The biggest complaint I’ve heard over the last couple of years from the Tour Modified guys, both those that were here and those that weren’t, is that two weeks is simply too long.”
Brown added that she believes running every Tour-Type Modified race over the course of five straight nights should help bolster the car counts that have been down the last few years.
Justin Bonsignore, the winner of the 2014 Richie Evans Memorial 100, said he isn’t sure whether or not the condensed and shortened schedule will lead to higher car counts, but he’s still a fan of it.
“It should be better from a ‘normal job’ standpoint,” said Bonsignore, the 2014 Valenti Modified Racing Series champion and a regular on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. “It may be easier for some of the guys to get just one week off of work instead of nearly two weeks back to back.”
In contrast, last year’s Tour-Type Modified champion at New Smyrna’s World Series, Ryan Preece, said he doesn’t think this change will help car counts at all.
“I don’t think that having just five nights of racing is going to help get more guys down there,” said Preece. “If you’re looking to spend less money then this may help you because you’re going for three less days and you’re not buying those three sets of tires. But at that point, in my opinion, the guys that are already going down there know they’re going to spend five to 10 grand at least. It really all depends, I guess, but it wouldn’t make me want to come down all of a sudden (if I hadn’t been coming).”
Bonsignore agreed with Preece that the main reason most people don’t go is because of the costs associated with running the World Series. He knows how much it costs, and his NASCAR car owner, Ken Massa, knows how much it costs to run as well, but Bonsignore said that as of now the plan is to still go down there and race for five nights.
“We are fortunate to have an owner that is willing to go and use it as some good practice,” said Bonsignore. “And it’s a week in sunny Florida.”
Preece said he believes that another reason car counts have been down is because of the reputation that New Smyrna has acquired for being a track that tears up a lot of equipment. He said that he believes with 2015’s World Series being so clean for the Modifieds that maybe more cars will come down in 2016 for that reason, and not because of the condensed schedule.
“You just need to have years where guys respect each other and just race and that will draw guys back,” Preece said. “But that’s just me. In my opinion I wish they didn’t condense it. I love racing. I loved it when it was Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. And most of the people going down there are going down there because they love racing at New Smyrna.”
A full schedule of the 2016 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing can be found on the New Smyrna Speedway track website at www.newsmyrnaspeedway.org.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com