Last year, Sammy Smith made his presence known on the Late Model scene by winning the Pro Late Model championship at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL). Smith is looking to make a similar wave in Super Late Models after a strong showing during practice day.
Smith, making his debut for Kyle Busch Motorsports, set the fastest lap of Practice Day during the final Super Late Model session of the evening.
“It feels really good,” Smith told Speed51 about his KBM entry. “We got a little bit off with the track during the third practice but we got it back on track and got the car really working good during the end of practice. I think we’ve got a really good shot for the first couple of days.”
Smith won last year’s Pro Late Model championship with top-five finishes on all six nights the division competed, with one win to his credit. Smith believes he and the KBM team are capable of similar consistency in the Super Late Model ranks this year.
“You’ve just got to finish all the laps. Be up there for the top five and wins every night. I think we can do that. I think we’ll be really good.”
Anthony Nocella set the fastest time of the day for the Tour-type Modifieds, circling the Florida half-mile in 17.290 seconds. The former Modified Racing Series champion started the day slower than he hoped, but found speed with more time on track.
“I wasn’t very happy in the beginning,” said Nocella. “We were pretty far off most of the day. We were trying a few things and weren’t very good. That last round, we went back to how I used to always run the car, back to all simple, easier stuff and we were pretty good at the end.
“I’m confident now. I know it will be a lot more good cars showing up, but I’m pretty happy with the times based off where we ran last year. Personally, I ran a lot quicker, so we’re happy with that.”
A couple of Tour-type Modified racers faced engine trouble during the practice day, giving them an early setback for the week. Super Late Model standout Bubba Pollard intended to make his Modified debut in the event, but that is in jeopardy after an engine failure on his Ryan Preece-fielded entry.
“We’ve got to do some talking, figure some things out,” Pollard said. “I don’t want to cost these guys no more money than I already have. We’ll see. We’ll have to talk it out, see how it goes.”
Tyler Rypkema also suffered an engine failure during practice, which led his team to swap motors with his father Dean.
“We went out for practice, made it about three laps, and the spotter came over and said we had a little smoke coming out,” said Rypkema. “I said it didn’t have any power, so we shut it off and brought it in. It had pressure and everything. When we brought it in, we weren’t even able to turn it over.
“We’re in the process of swapping motors now,” added Rypkema. “We’re taking a motor out of a backup car and slapping it in our car.”
Jamie Skinner was the fastest man in town for the Pro Late Models, setting quick time in three of the four rounds of practice for the division. After a sluggish start to last year’s World Series, Skinner finished with four straight top-five finishes including a win. Skinner hopes to put together a full week of success in 2020.
“I think that we have a good shot at having some good finishes,” said Skinner. “Our goal is to start the way we ended it last year. We came here to dominate Speedweeks. There’s some good cars here, so we’ll see what it brings here.”
Earl Beckner was fastest for the Sportsman division, while Wayne Parker (Florida Modifieds) and Brey Holmes (Pro Trucks) also set fast times.
Racing will begin at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing on Friday, February 7. Speed51’s Trackside Now coverage will begin at 12:30 p.m. Eastern on Friday, with racing starting at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo