The World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing concluded Saturday night after nine nights of racing at New Smyrna Speedway. The event saw one of the largest car counts across all divisions in recent memory, with well over 100 cars taking part throughout the week.
We now look at the top 10 moments of the 2021 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, in no particular order.
Griffith Makes History
Going into the week, 19 different drivers had won championships in the previous 19 years at the World Series in the Super Late Model division. Derek Griffith ended that streak in a big way with his second straight championship.
The New Hampshire driver scored three wins during the week, while no other driver scored more than one. In winning the title, Griffith became the first driver since Pete Orr in 1993-1994 to go back-to-back in the division.
Big Money Continues World Series Dominance
Matt Hirschman has always been strong at the World Series, but the Pennsylvania driver had yet to break through for the Tour-Type Modified title in his first few attempts down in Florida. However, that has long since passed, as he scored his third World Series title in the past four years.
Hirschman won the last two features of the week, including the Richie Evans Memorial 100 Friday night for the fifth time. He could very well have four straight World Series titles at this point if it wasn’t for an 18th place result in the second feature in 2019. That year, he won three races and finished second in the other.
“Preece Lightning” Qualifies for Daytona 500, Wins Blewett Memorial on Same Night
Ryan Preece had to qualify his way into the Daytona 500 Wednesday night on time, with the JTG-Daugherty Racing No. 37 not chartered for 2021. He did just that. He then drove to New Smyrna and started shotgun on the field for the Blewett Memorial, winning that race.
Preece worked his way from the 37th starting spot to take the win in the 76-lap event, using cautions to his advantage while he also made quick work of the field. He took the lead from Eric Goodale with seven laps to go and held off Matt Hirschman to score his second win in the race.
USAC Star Makes Name Known in Late Model World
Five-time USAC Silver Crown champion and three-time Little 500 winner Kody Swanson pulled double-duty at the World Series with Team Platinum, competing in both the Pro and Super Late Models. By the end of the week, the California driver added another accomplishment to his long resume.
Swanson won his first full-bodied race car event on Night #7 in the Pro Late Model, while riding a wave of consistency to the Pro Late Model championship. He finished in the top-three five out of the seven nights while not finishing worse than seventh.
First-Time ARCA East Winner Emerges From Three-Wide Photo Finish
A rain delay with just four laps to go helped set up an early finish of the year candidate in the ARCA Menards Series East opener Monday night. Sammy Smith had dominated much of the second half, but a penalty would see him restart fourth for a green-white-checkered.
Smith used the bumper of Taylor Gray going into the final set of corners on the last lap. When both of them slid high, defending NASCAR FedEx Challenge Series champion Max Gutierrez slipped underneath them and scored his first-career ARCA East victory.
Nasse Sweeps Both Late Model 100-Lappers
Stephen Nasse had plenty to wish for after a subpar start to the World Series by his own standards, but by the end of the week he was in vintage form. He won the 100-lap finales in both the Pro and Super Late Model, becoming the first driver to sweep both events in the same year.
There were two different stories behind Nasse’s wins over the weekend. Friday night’s PLM feature saw him take the lead from Jett Noland with just six laps to go, while he led wire-to-wire in Saturday night’s SLM main event while keeping ARCA Menards Series West champion Jesse Love at bay.
Remembering Rusty Crews
Following his unexpected passing during the early hours of Sunday, February 7, New Smyrna Speedway honored long-time track official Rusty Crews with a memorable ceremony prior to the start of racing that night.
Throughout the week, racers who visited victory lane dedicated victories to Crews. Rusty’s son Clay also waved the green flag for Friday night’s Richie Evans Memorial 100.
A New Pro Late Model Star Emerges
While his efforts to win the Pro Late Model championship came up just short, 14-year-old Conner Jones showed he will be a force to be reckoned with in the Pro Late Model ranks in 2021. The Virginia driver won twice during the week and was in contention for the championship the final night before a wreck ended what hope he had.
He had limited Late Model Stock experience going into the week, coming off a sixth-place run in the South Carolina 400 back in November. While the rest of his plans for the season are unknown, Jones has already started to make a name for himself after a strong week at New Smyrna.
Great Week for Minnesota Drivers
A trio of drivers from The Gopher State made the trip to the World Series, all with varying levels of success. Former LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway Late Model champion Nick Panitzke earned his first World Series win in the Pro Late Model to kick off Thursday night, which two-time ARCA Midwest Tour champion Dan Fredrickson followed up with his first World Series win in 19 years later on that night in the Super.
While he didn’t win during the week, 2019 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series National Champion Jacob Goede had four top-five finishes on his way to a third-place result in Super Late Model points.
Team Platinum Takes Two Championships Back to Ohio
Team Platinum came to New Smyrna with chances to win three different World Series championships. After nine days, the 2019 Snowball Derby-winning team took two with them back to the Midwest.
Kody Swanson started the party Friday night with the Pro Late Model title, while team co-owner Bill Burba took the hardware in the Florida Modifieds. He won twice during the week, including the big 75-lap race Tuesday night to win his first championship by just two points.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51/Will Bellamy