Todd Stone has raced a variety of race cars at many different race tracks during the course of his racing career, but this weekend he will take aim at a challenge he's never attempted before. The veteran racer from Middlebury, Vermont is heading south towards the Sunshine State to make his Southern Super Series debut Saturday night in the Hart to Heart 100 at New Smyrna Speedway.
Throughout his career, Stone has piloted a variety of race cars including Late Models, Florida Modifieds, Dirt Modifieds, and seemingly everything in between. He's done so at tracks throughout his home region of New England, as well as in states such as Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and the province of Quebec. Through these efforts, Stone has proven that he's always up for a challenge, even if that means he has to drive over 1,300 miles to get there.
For Stone, the long haul to compete at New Smyrna Speedway has become a tradition. However, with increased competition from the Southern Super Series stars, a new challenge awaits him upon his arrival to the Florida oval.
“We’ve come down here the last few years, we actually came down with the Super and the Pro both last year. So this has become an annual trip for us,” Stone told Speed51.
In recent years, New Smyrna Speedway has become a home away from home for Stone and his G. Stone Motorsports team. The team has frequently visited the track each February for the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. In fact, he scored a World Series championship in the Florida Modified division in 2014.
“A long time ago I always wanted to race down there and I thought the best way to get into it was to get a (Florida) Modified to race there," Stone explained. "So, I bought a Modified from a guy, had another one rebuild it, went down there and ran the Governor’s Cup. We learned a lot, took it home, redid a lot of stuff on it, brought it back for Speedweeks and ended up winning the championship.”
Since transitioning back to Late Model competition at the end of 2014, Stone has brought his Super and Pro Late Models south repeatedly, finding consistency along the way, while just missing out on wins. While most of his consistency has come with the PLM, he is confident that the SLM program is getting to that same point.
“We’ll have to see how it turns out. It’s 100 laps, a lot can happen. I’m fine with it, I’ve mixed it up with a bunch of different people; we ran the race down in Pennsylvania, which we won with the Pro, a bunch of different people there too. I don’t care how tough it is, we just got to get in there, do the best we can do, have a good time, and hopefully it’s all in one piece for Speedweeks when we’re done.”
That win coming this past August at Jennerstown Speedway (PA) pitted Stone against a great collection of Late Model drivers, leaving him and the No. 1X team with some much needed confidence, plus some cash and a big trophy.
“It was awesome, we had a great car, and everything fell into our lap. We should’ve had the pole, but I overdrove it the second lap. But, it was great, it fit into my wheelhouse of driving, I really enjoyed it.”
After starting his career on the smaller tracks of New England, it is the larger half-mile or larger tracks, such as Devil’s Bowl (VT), Jennerstown, and New Smyrna where Stone feels he’s at his best.
“I actually like the bigger tracks. I think I’m more comfortable at those than running the small bullrings," Stone said. "You get out, you ride, you race, you pass people, and you’re not banging into each other as much. It’s more of a chess match than physicality of smaller tracks, and that’s something I’ve come to like.”
Despite some of the nation’s top Super Late Model stars being in attendance Saturday night, Stone feels that he and the team have the potential to at least get towards the front and mix it up over the 100 laps.
“If we get a good car underneath me, I think we got a good chance of running well. I’m not saying we’re going to win the race, but I think we can hang tough, and that’s all I’m looking for. I would love to come out of there with a top five, but a solid finish would be good as well.”
Race fans unable to make the trip south with Stone will be able to watch a live pay-per-view broadcast of the race on Speed51.com. Visit www.speed51.com/harttoheart today to order your live video tickets.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51photos.com