The year 2020 is still not over, but Tour-type Modified fans already have reason to smile in 2021, as the entry list for the 55th World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing is already packed with talent. With 19 drivers entered so far for the five nights in February at New Smyrna Speedway, the anticipation in the Northeast is high heading into Florida Speedweeks.
Three-time New Smyrna World Series Tour-type champion Ryan Preece is expected to do a part-time schedule in the No. 6 while the ‘Mighty Modifieds’ are in town from February 8 to 12, as he begins his third NASCAR Cup Series season with JTG-Daugherty Racing just up I-95 at Daytona International Speedway.
As for those going for the championship, two-time and defending New Smyrna champion Matt Hirschman is entered in the No. 60, while 2014 Tour-type & two-time World Series SK Modified champion Ron Silk is slated to make his return to New Smyrna for the first time since 2018, driving in the No. 16 Modified he fielded on multiple occasions in 2020.
Rounding the list of former champions is another two-time champion, Chuck Hossfeld, who is also returning to New Smyrna after a year away. Hossfeld will field the No. 2 for Gershow Motorsports; the family team also has both J.R. and Joe Bertuccio also on the provisional entry list.
The Catalano family is once again expected to be heading south in full force this coming February. Tommy Catalano is entered in the PSR No. 17 for the second-straight year. Meanwhile, the family operation has Timmy, Tyler, and Amy Catalano all entered for the week as well.
The ‘Long Island Gang’ is so far represented by two of its toughest customers, both also from the racing town of Riverhead. Former Turkey Derby winner Dave Sapienza is heading back, looking to put his No. 36 in New Smyrna victory lane for the first time. Meanwhile, Eric Goodale will look to add to his win total, and take the No. 58 to its first World Series championship.
While Preece and Silk currently form the veteran arm of Connecticut entrants, it’s Ronnie Williams who heads up the list of young guns in the No. 50, with the former Tri-Track Open Modified Series and Stafford Speedway SK Modified champion expected to make his first start at New Smyrna since 2018.
Entered for their New Smyrna debuts, 2018 Stafford SK Light champ Marcello Rufrano caught the attention of the Modified world with his first Tour-type win at Stafford in 2020. Stafford SK race winning driver and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour winning crew chief Stephen Kopcik will make his first appearance as a driver in the No. 179, previously attending New Smyrna as a crew member.
Veteran Upstate New York short tracker Chris Finocchario is entered to make his World Series debut in his No. 8 Modified.
New Jersey’s Eddie McCarthy is heading back with his No. 20 after using the 2020 World Series as learning experience for the future.
Brian Robie of New Hampshire is heading back to New Smyrna with redemption on his mind, after destroying his engine early in the week in 2020. Robie and the No. 25 camp are looking for their first World Series race win after sweeping Modified track titles at Claremont Motorsports Park, Monadnock Speedway and Hudson International Speedway back home in 2020.
Perhaps most excited is the lone southern driver entered thus far, Florida’s own Jeremy Gerstner. The former Southern Modified Racing Series champion is eager to pit his new No. 55 Modified against the competition over the five nights of action.
The 55th World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing will run for nine straight nights once again 2021, February 5 through 13. The David Rogers Super Late Models, Florida Modifieds, and Pro Late Models will each run for seven of the nine nights.
The Tour-type Modifieds will begin their first of five-straight nights on Monday, February 8 with a 50-lap feature alongside the season opener for the ARCA Menards Series East. Following at 35-lap sprint race on Tuesday, the John Blewett III Memorial 76 takes center stage on Wednesday, February 10. Another 35-lap feature is on for Thursday, with the Tour Mod schedule wrapping on Friday, February 12 with the Richie Evans Memorial 100.
The World Series itself concludes on Saturday, February 13 with the Orange Blossom 100 for Super Late Models headlining the ninth night.
Stay with Speed51 for more news as Speedweeks 2021 draws ever closer.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51