Johnson Takes Home Two Titles

Johnson Takes Home Two Titles

Wins Bullring and Nevada Championships

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Justin Johnson was not expecting to race in 2016, much less celebrate winning a pair of championships.

Yet somehow that’s exactly what Johnson ended up doing.

The Las Vegas native and veteran 31-year-old racer got a call just a week before the start of the racing season at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that totally changed his plans for the year.

“It started with a phone call about a week before the season started,” Johnson explained. “I wasn’t even planning on racing. The owner of the car that I drove basically was trying to get drivers in the seat and there were no drivers that could come up with the money to do it. We’d been friends for a long time so he said you can have the seat if we work a deal out where he gets to keep the winnings. So I kind of still paid in a way, but I paid by him keeping all the winnings.”

Johnson ended up driving the car, owned by Chris Bray and powered by engines from J&S Automotive & Machine Shop, to six victories in 13 starts at The Bullring. He said early on in the year the group wasn’t even sure they’d chase the championship, but after getting off to a fast start the decision became much easier. 

“We ended up getting to a point where it was time to go racing. At that point we were I’d say maybe 50 percent committed to the full season. We were talking about going for a championship but it wasn’t a for sure deal,” Johnson explained. “Finally it started coming together after we started winning right away and started finishing well. Next thing you know we were second in points. We were like well, we might as well keep going.”

A season-long battle ended with Johnson and company capturing the track championship at The Bullring by 22 points over former track champion Scott Gafforini. The group captured the Nevada state championship in the process, giving Johnson a pair of championships during a year where he never even expected to climb into a race car.

The championships in 2016 came in addition to a pair of championships Johnson won in 2010 when he captured the track championship at Irwindale Speedway as well as the California state championship. 

The championship at The Bullring, however, meant a bit more to Johnson after he lost a track championship there in 2006 by a single point. And who did he lose the track championship to that season? Why Gafforini, of course.

“This was a long time coming. I lost a championship by a point in 2006. That was another reason because I got the call to race this year because it was my 10 year anniversary of losing that championship by one point, so it was kind of redemption to go out there and go get it,” Johnson said.

Johnson was impressively consistent all season. In addition to his six victories he finished inside the top-five in 12 out of 13 starts. How was he so consistent you might ask? He said once the team figured out the setup on the car, they simply never changed it again.

“We didn’t even touch the car. We just nut and bolted it. We didn’t change anything. We didn’t scale it. We didn’t even practice (test). We just went right to race day,” said Johnson. “We practiced, qualified and raced. In years past when I’ve gone to practice I’ve dialed myself out, just overthinking it. So we just kept the car the same. So we just unloaded it and went and did work. We just made sure that the nuts and bolts were tight. That’s it. That’s how we stayed consistent.”

This year Johnson said once again he wasn’t planning on racing at The Bullring, but his phone rang again with an offer that he couldn’t refuse.

“I wasn’t planning on it, then I got a call from a guy who owns a totally different team and they want me to run this year with them,” Johnson said. “I just had twin daughters two years ago and they have been taking a lot of my time up and I have a boy on the way. He’ll be here in May or June. 

“I was going to dedicate this year to family, but the guy called me up offered to pay me. So I was like OK, I don’t have to come up with any money, I just can go out and race. He said I don’t even have to work on the car. He said I can just show up with my helmet and I said done. That’s like a dream come true in the world now a days. So I said alright, I’ll just show up and get paid and race. You can’t beat that.”

Johnson said he couldn’t say who he’d be driving for since the deal hadn’t been made public, but you can expect to see him each and every week at the Bullring this year as he attempts to win his second track championship at his hometown track.


Johnson picked up six victories at The Bullring Las Vegas en route to his track and state championship trophies. Courtesy of Jeff Speer

Harrison Closes Out With World Series Title

Harrison Closes Out With World Series Title

Takes New Smyrna SLM Crown; Choquette Wins Finale

NEW SMYRNA, Fla. — Harrison Burton has won plenty of races at New Smyrna Speedway. Saturday night, the 16-year-old from Huntersville, North Carolina, captured the ultimate prize.

Burton finished sixth in the PPG/Tower Sealants 100, the finale the Super Late Model Division on the high-banked half-mile. It was enough to out-distance fellow NASCAR Next drivers Spencer Davis by 10 points and Ty Majeski by 16. Majeski, the defending World Series champion, was not able to overcome a mid-week post-race disqualification. He was also not able to chase down race winner Jeff Choquette, finishing Saturday’s feature on the winner’s back bumper as they crossed the line.

Choquette, the grandson 1954 NASCAR Modified champion Jack Choquette, had won a Pro Late Model and Florida Modified feature earlier in the week. According to Speed51.com, he became the first driver to win a race in three different division’s in the history of the World Series.

Choquette also won the 100-lap Pro Late Model finale Friday night.

Last year, Burton had a pair of wins but finished a distance second by 24 points to Majeski in New Smyrna’s top NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division.

This year, Burton started the week strong with two wins and two runner-up finishes, and by Saturday had built a commanding lead. He started third in the extra-distance race to close out the weekend and was able to cruise.

Davis, who started the week off with a win last Friday, finished fourth behind Choquette, Burton and Steven Wallace. Gus Dean completed the top five.

After Burton, David Rogers, Brad May, Cole Anderson and Fredrick Moore rounded out the top 10.

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Jeff Choquette celebrates winning the  PPG/Tower Sealants 100 Saturday night at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway. Jim DuPont.

Hirschman Captures Richie Evans 100 Win

Hirschman Captures Richie Evans 100 Win

Preece Takes World Series Modified Title at New Smyrna

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – Matt Hirschman used a late race move to score the win in Friday’s Richie Evans Memorial 100 for the Tour-Type Modifieds at New Smyrna Speedway.  

Hirschman took the point from race leader Ron Silk on the final restart with just 12 laps to go, but it wasn’t over from there. Silk charged back to the bumper and chased Hirschman’s No. 60 all the way around to the checkered flag.

However, Hirschman wasn’t going to be denied. The win completed the week for him in grand style – after he had finished second in two of the first three races. 

“All week I’ve been trying to make the pass and not the one trying to protect and it’s been so tough,” Hirschman said. “That was the opportunity where I finally had position and I might have taken a little bit from him, but that’s what everyone else has been doing all week.”

Early in the event, Chuck Hossfeld showed the way, but was overtaken by Hirschman on lap 22. When Silk took the lead on lap 27, Hirschman settled in and stayed inside the top five until a caution on lap 43 brought the leaders to pit road. 

At lap 45, Hirschman restarted back in 11th position – but quickly worked his way towards the front. On a restart just after a caution for a single car incident, Hirschman went from fourth to second on the outside lane, then went after Silk. He chased the back bumper of Silk’s No. 82 until the caution, then made his move on the bottom lane in turn one with 12 laps to go and eventually took down the win. 

“This could have been multiple wins for us and I’m sure if I had to do some things over I would have done them differently,” Hirschman said. “But I’m glad we at least closed with the big win here tonight.”

Ultimately, Hirschman was able to seal the deal and capture his first win of the week, but it wasn’t enough to take down the modified championship crown.

Instead, Berlin, Conn. driver Ryan Preece — who has plans to return to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour full-time in 2017 – was able to take the title with his fourth place finish. Preece edged Hirschman by just a mere one point in the final points tally to capture his third straight World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing championship. 

“It’s a good accomplishment,” Preece said. “I knew Matt was going to be racing for the win here in the 100 lapper and I wish I could have been up there. We ended up coming up here and getting the championship.”

Preece and his team made the decision to pit before the green even flew on Friday night because he wasn’t confident in the adjustments they had made prior to qualifying. Teams weren’t allowed to adjust on their cars in between time trials and the race, so Preece forfeited his starting spot to make a change and had to come from the back of the pack. 

“I had a lot of preload in the left front shock and I wasn’t confident with it. The car did what I wanted after that and it was going to be really good but when my bumper got killed it jammed into the swaybar arm and it wasn’t allowing the swaybar to work,” Preece said. 

At the finish, Hirschman, Silk, Jon McKennedy, Preece and Justin Bonsignore finished out the top five spots. Timmy Solomito, Chuck Hossfield, Spencer Davis, JR Bertuccio and Richie Pallai Jr. were the top-10. 

In other action on Friday night at Smyrna, Jeff Choquette took down the win in the Pro Late Model 100 lap feature event. Travis Eddy also scored a win in the Florida Modified division.

The 51st annual World Series of Asphalt Racing concludes at New Smyrna on Saturday night, when the Super Late Models take center stage with a 100 lap feature race. 


Ryan Preece took home his third consecutive tour-type modified championship in the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. Jim DuPont

NAPA 500 Challenge: 4 Races In 8 Days

NAPA 500 Challenge: 4 Races In 8 Days

K&N Pro Drivers Have March 1 Deadline For Big Bonus

ROSEVILLE, Calif. – Three popular race tracks in the Southwest will host four races in eight days for NASCAR K&N Pro Series teams next month, with big bonuses up for grabs as part of the NAPA 500 Challenge.

To be eligible for the bonus money, which includes a giant $100,000 award if a driver can win all four races, drivers must pre-register by March 1 at BMRNAPA.com. There is no cost to register.

The NAPA 500 Challenge consists of 500 total laps of competition at the three tracks – Irwindale (California) Speedway; Kern County Raceway Park near Bakersfield, California; and Tucson (Arizona) Speedway – with more than $400,000 in posted awards including the special bonuses.

In addition to the biggest bonus of $100,000, other big awards are also at stake. A $10,000 award is available to drivers who finish in the top three positions in all four races. Drivers who finish in the top five spots in all four events could take home a $5,000 award. And a $1,000 award is available to drivers who finish in the top 10 positions in all four races.

“This is a great opportunity for all NASCAR K&N teams to compete at three excellent tracks, with big bonus money up for grabs,” said Bill McAnally, president of Bill McAnally Racing Promotions. “We’re grateful to NAPA, NASCAR, and the three venues for making this happen.”

The four races serve as the biggest season kickoff in the history of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, as competition the 2017 title gets underway.

For NASCAR K&N Pro Series East teams, the races come during a month with no events on their schedule. The NAPA 500 Challenge provides an opportunity for East drivers to race on several great tracks not on their schedule, and possibly take home some bonus money. It addition, it gives them a chance to compete head-to-head with drivers and teams in the West.

The first of the four races is a NAPA 150 event at Tucson Speedway on Saturday, March 18. After traveling to Kern County Raceway Park for a NAPA 150 race on Thursday, March 23; teams will head to Irwindale Speedway for Twin NAPA 100s on Saturday, March 25.

Additional information about the NAPA 500 Challenge is available at BMRNAPA.com. 

Preece Scores Blewett Memorial 76 Victory

Preece Scores Blewett Memorial 76 Victory

Majeski Bounces Back For Super Late Model Win At New Smyrna

NEW SMYRNA, Fla. — Ryan Preece has won his share of tour-type Modified race at New Smyrna Speedway.

He added the John Blewett III Memorial 76 to trophy case Thursday night as racing resumed in the 51st World Series of Asphalt Racing. The Berlin, Connecticut, driver held off Matt Hirschman in the closing laps of the extra-distance event on the high-banked half-mile to continue his quest for a third straight World Series crown.

“The level of competition right now is really high and this is the strongest field New Smyrna has had in a really long time,” Preece said. “It’s a good accomplishment, and now we have to get back to work and get the car ready for Friday night.”

Rain washed out racing Wednesday and pushed the annual tribute to the former Modified driver from New Jersey to Thursday.

Preece was chasing his first win of the week after he had finishes of second and fourth in the first two 35-lap races of World Series.

“We’ve taken buts and pieces from every single night we’ve raced,” Preece said. “It’s been putting a notebook together; what we need in the race car to get these tires to last long enough to win a race.”

The 2012 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion and NASCAR Next alum took the lead from Ron Silk with 13 laps to go and then held off a charge from Hirschman to score the win.

Silk settled for third, followed by Justin Bonsignore and Jimmy Blewett.

Timmy Solomito, Richie Pallai Jr., Chuck Hossfeld, JR Bertuccio and Calvin Carroll rounded out the top 10.

The week will conclude tonight for the tour-type Modifieds with the Richie Evans Memorial 100. The racing will stream live on FansChoice.TV.

Preece has won the race the last two years. He holds a five-point lead over Hirschman for the week’s title and seven over Silk.

“When you come down here, it’s a long haul, it’s a long week, and you come down here to win races,” said Preece. “We got one (tonight), but the one everybody comes out for is the Richie Evans. I’m definilty looking forward to it.”

Like Preece, NASCAR Next driver Ty Majeski got his first win of the week. Only it came two days after he thought he had one. The Seymour, Wisconsin, driver had his Super Late Model victory stripped Tuesday in post-race technical inspection. Majeski, the defending World Series champion in the division, bounced back with a dominating performance in the 35-late event Thursday night.

Harrison Burton finished second, to increase his haul for the week to two wins and two runner-up finishes in four races. Spencer Davis finished third, followed by Brad May and Stephen Nasse.

David Rogers was sixth, followed by Derek Griffith, Derek Kraus, Garrett Hall and Brandon Watson.

The Super Late Model division will culminate its week of racing on Saturday with the PPG/Tower Sealants 100, also on FansChoice.TV. Burton leads Davis by 12 points and Majeski by 20.

Mason Keller and Jeff Choquette split the Pro Late Model features Thursday, while Wayne Parker won the Florida Modified feature.

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Ty Majeski celebrates his Super Late Model win Thursday night at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway. Jim DuPont

Diversity Awards Spotlights Industry Efforts

Diversity Awards Spotlights Industry Efforts

Ten Honorees To Be Recognized For Their Commitment To Multicultural & Diversity

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – From Daniel Suárez’s historic NASCAR XFINITY Series championship to the efforts from NASCAR tracks, teams, sponsors and partners, the last year represented tremendous progress in the areas of diversity within the sport. 

NASCAR and industry leaders will gather Thursday at the Daytona International Speedway to recognize those leading the efforts in shaping a multicultural sport with the 10th Annual NASCAR Diversity Awards.

“Diversity and multiculturalism is a top priority at NASCAR, and the NASCAR Diversity Awards is a great event to honor all those from across our industry who are making tremendous strides in this area,” said NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France. “As we continue to see more diversity on the track, in the boardroom and in the stands, we will see a rise in talent and we will appeal to an even wider fan base.  We want to thank our stakeholders and partners for their dedication to the continued growth of our sport.”

The NASCAR Diversity Awards will stream live on FansChoice.tv, beginning at 11 a.m.

To be recognized for their outstanding achievements will be:

• Daniel Suarez will receive the NASCAR Ignition Award, given to a minority or female NASCAR national series driver that demonstrates leadership both on and off the race track while making contributions to the advancement of the sport. In addition to being the first Mexican-born driver to win a race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and becoming first foreign-born driver to win a NASCAR national series championship, Suarez has been active away from the track in reaching new young and diverse fans.

• Jesse Iwuji will be given the NASCAR Diverse Driver Award, given to a minority or female NASCAR developmental driver that exemplifies outstanding performance both on and off the race track in encouraging awareness and interaction with NASCAR and motorsports. A graduate of the Naval Academy and a first-generation Nigerian-American, Iwuji has has taken NASCAR directly to the community, whether it’s raising Naval recruitment efforts, STEM education or support of NASCAR Green efforts at a local California school.

• Peri Karslioglu will receive the NASCAR Diversity Internship Participant Award, presented to the student who has exhibited outstanding performance and leadership skills in academics as well as during their experience in the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program. Karslioglu is a cum laude graduate of Syracuse University and interned with The NASCAR Foundation last year. Karslioglu impressed with her fresh perspective on social media and, industry engagement and marketing efforts, landing a full-time position with the Foundation as a marketing coordinator.

• ALPFA – the Association of Latino Professionals For America, will be presented the NASCAR Institution Award, which goes to a company that demonstrates a commitment to NASCAR diversity and inclusion goals through its program support and engagement with NASCAR. ALPFA has worked closely with NASCAR since 2014 to promote business-to-business efforts throughout the motorsports industry. Through exclusive events and at-track immersions, ALPFA has led the way in increasing Latino participation in key NASCAR programs.

• Hailie Deegan will be awarded the Young Racer Award, presented to a minority or female youth between the ages of 8-15 years old that has partaken in some form of competitive racing and has overcome adversity in pursuit of his or her dream of participating in the motorsports industry. The 15-year-old from Temecula, California, Deegan competed in 2016 for Rev Racing in a Legends car in the Bojangles Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway and was one of the youngest drivers to earn an invitation to the 2016 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine.

• Smithfield will receive the NASCAR Partner Award, given to a company that demonstrates a commitment to NASCAR diversity goals through its program support and engagement. With goals of making better communities throughout our county, Smithfield’s sponsorship of Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) and driver Aric Almirola has amplified its outreach efforts and created a difference-making partnership. Last year, Smithfield and RPM partnered for school events in California and Illinois to promote staying in school, working directly with schools with a high-percentage of Hispanic and low-income students.

• Kenyatta Houston will be presented the NASCAR Diverse Crew Member Award. The award goes to a minority or woman crew member that inspires awareness of NASCAR through competitive performance and outreach activities. A former football player and 2005 graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew program, Houston has been to Victory Lane in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series. Outside the race track, Houston continues to give back to the community – from helping the Drive for Diversity Pit Crew program to train the next generation of crew members to volunteering with Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity and Mooresville Christian Mission.

• Pocono Raceway will be presented the NASCAR Track Award. The award goes to a track that identified and activated programming geared toward engaging a multicultural fan base by utilizing staff, community outreach and track assets. The “Tricky Triangle” has made significant efforts to reach out to an increasingly diverse population in the Poconos. Last year, it added a Spanish-language promotion for its NASCAR XFINITY Series race and included a video spotlighting NASCAR Diversity intern Antonio Russo as part of its overall activation to highlight family participation.

• Patriot Motorsports/Circle Track Racing will receive the NASCAR Team Award. The award goes to a team that engaged driver, OEM and sponsor support to effectively reach fans on and off the track in support of NASCAR’s diversity and inclusion goals. Circle Track Racing, owned by John Wood, a driver himself, has provided an opportunity for drivers to gain valuable seat time and experience. Wood and driver Jesse Iwuiji’s Patriot Motorsports are actively involved in self-funded promotion and activation around the race weekends and have continued to go above and beyond in driving awareness to a young and diverse audience.

• Josh Avila will be recognized with the Industry Ambassador Award. The award spotlights a representative who displays a personal effort to incorporate multicultural initiatives as part of his or her job. Avila has made the track’s multicultural initiatives a major focus for the last decade. Josh has built meaningful relationships with the Hispanic community and his successes have profound impact beyond his track. He spearheaded the first Spanish language section of the FanZone, incorporated Mexican celebrities and drivers into the track’s events and media outreach, and has worked to expand the track’s engagement with the Asian market.

The NASCAR national series championship season gets underway at Daytona International Speedway on Friday night with the NextEra Energy Resources 250 for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, followed by Saturday’s Powershares QQQ 300 for the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The 59th running of the DAYTONA 500 will be Sunday, with the green flag for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season at 2 p.m. ET, live on FOX, Motor Racing Network Radio, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. 

Tickets for the Daytona 500 are available online at DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. 

Burton Makes It Two For Two

Burton Makes It Two For Two

Declared Super Late Winner After Majeski DQed

NEW SMYRNA, Fla. –  Harrison Burton made it two in a row at New Smyrna Speedway, but not the way he planned.

The 16-year-old was awarded the victory after Ty Majeki was disqualified during the post-race inspection after his fuel cell was found gutted.

The Huntersville, North Carolina, driver started the 75-lap race on the pole, but lost the lead to Stephen Nasse early in the race. 

“It wasn’t the way we wanted to win,” said the NASCAR Next driver. “We want to come out here and beat everyone by a half of a race track. But some nights you can’t do that and sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. We still won two in a row and we had to pass Nasse with five to go to be in position to win that race.

“That’s why you never give up and you never quit, because you never know what’s going to happen on and off the race track, as we saw here tonight.”

Burton’s fellow NASCAR Next – an industry initiative designed to spotlight the sport’s rising stars – classmate Majeski initially won the race after taking the lead from Nasse with nine laps to go. After racing side-by-side around the track, the 22-year-old Seymour, Wisconsin, native made contact with Nasse’s door in Turn 4 to drive away with the win.

Dalton Armstrong finished third while Daniel Keene, Jr. and defending New Smyrna Speedway champion Brad May rounded out the top-five.

Nasse was originally awarded the third spot, but he was also disqualified post-race for gutting his fuel cell.

David Rogers, Derek Griffith, Spencer Davis, Cole Anderson and Derek Kraus completed the top 10.

With tonight’s victory, Burton has a commanding lead in the Super Late Model championship standings.

The Super Late Model division will be back in action Wednesday for a 35-lap feature.

Tyler Rypkema won the 35-lap Tour Type Modified race while Jerry Symons took home the win in the 75-lap Florida Modified victory.

Night six of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing will take place Wednesday with Tour Modifieds, Florida Modifieds and Pro Late Model divisions joining the Super Late Models in an action-packed night at New Smyrna Speedway. 

Alon Day Back With One Goal: The NWES Title

Alon Day Back With One Goal: The NWES Title

Will Return To NWES With CAAL Racing And Add Races In The US

NASCAR Next driver and two-time Junior Trophy winner Alon Day will return the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series with one sole goal in mind: to win the European NASCAR Championship. The Israeli will also aim at expanding his program in the United States, adding as many races as possible to his NASCAR campaign. 

“I am really happy to be back and race again in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and to do it with CAAL Racing, the team I had so much success with. You don’t want to change a winning team,” said Day, who finished third in points in 2016.

In the first two years of his NASCAR career, Day amassed 6 wins, 4 poles, 12 top-5s and 18 top-10s that place him straight among the favourites in the European NASCAR title hunt for 2017. Thanks to his success in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, the Tel-Aviv resident became the first driver coming from outside North America to be selected for the NASCAR Next program and took part in four races between the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

“I know most of the tracks and I know I have a good car and a team around me capable of winning, which gives me a lot of confidence to fight even harder. I have one goal for this year, and it is to win the championship for me and for CAAL Racing,” said Day. “Beside that I also hope to add as many races as possible this year in the USA. We are still looking for sponsors and we will keep working hard on the program.”

Alon Day will team up with NWES veteran Freddy Nordstrom in the ELITE 1 Division at CAAL Racing, while Arianna Casoli, Gil Linster and Felipe Rabello will drive the Italian cars in ELITE 2 in what will be a truly international lineup.

“It is fantastic to have Alon back with us for the third consecutive year and to resign drivers like Freddy and Arianna. It proves that we are doing a good job and we have everything to compete at the highest level,” said CAAL Racing Team Manager Luca Canneori. “Alon and Freddy will surely bring us important results in ELITE 1 and we count on Arianna to compete once again for the Lady Cup, while I believe that Gil and Felipe will both be positive surprises in ELITE 2.”

Day will be back in action with his CAAL Racing teammates at the Autodromo di Franciacorta on March 3 for the official NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Prologue to the 2017 season.

Burton Pulls Away For New Smyrna Victory

Burton Pulls Away For New Smyrna Victory

Takes Super Late Model Win; Bertuccio Starts Strong In Mods

NEW SMYRNA, Fla. — Harrison Burton wasn’t going to be denied twice in a row.

The 16-year-old from Huntersville, North Carolina, led every lap en route to the Super Late Model Victory Monday in the 35-lap feature at New Smyrna Speedway. It was his first victory of the week at the 51st World Series of Asphalt Racing and comes on the heels of finishing second in last Friday’s opening race.

The race was slowed for just one caution and set up a restart duel between a pair of NASCAR Next drivers: Burton and defending World Series champion Ty Majeski. The two ran side-by-side briefly for two laps before Burton was able to clear the 21-year-old from Seymour, Wisconsin.

“We had a really, really great restart there,” said Burton. “And Ty raced me clean, which is awesome. It’s fun to race people clean like that. We just got a great jump off the line, being the control car really helps a lot with that, and held him off as long as I could.”

From there, Burton cruised to the win by .745 seconds.

“Tonight to get some redemption and get the checkered flag is awesome,” said Burton, the son of former Monster Energy NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Burton. “It’s been an incredible ride. Hopefully we can keep some more wins going.”

Stephen Nasse finished third, followed by Spencer Davis and Dalton Armstrong.

Davis, an 18-year-old from Dawsonville, Georgia, is also part of the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class — an industry initiative designed to spotlight the sport’s rising stars. Burton, Majeski and Davis help make up a stout field of some of the top young talent in stock car racing on display at New Smyrna this week.

Martin Latulippe, David Rogers, Brandon Watson, Jeff Choquette and Brad May rounded out the top 10.

On Friday, Davis led the entire way, while Burton charged from his 10th starting position, only to come up one spot short.

The Super Late Model division will be back Tuesday for a 50-lap extra-distance race.

“We’ve just got to keep working,” said Burton. “Never stop working no matter how good you are. As good as this car was, we can still make it better. We’ve got great drive off. We just need to get through the center a little better and I’m confident that my guys can do that for me.”

The tour-type Modifieds had their opening race of the World Series and the stacked field included a trio of drivers who are expected to contend for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title this year in Ryan Preece, Justin Bonsignore and Timmy Solomito. But it was Long Island’s JR Bertuccio who took home the first checkered flag.

Bertuccio grabbed the top spot from Jimmy Zacharias, the 2017 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series New York champion, and then fended off a late challenge from Ryan Preece to win at New Smyrna for the first time since 2002. Preece, the 2013 Whelen Modified champion, is the defending tour-type Modified champion at the World Series. Matt Hirschman got past Preece for second in the closing laps but was unable to get to Bertuccio. Jon McKennedy and 2011 Whelen Modified Tour champ Ron Silk were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Bassett Breaks Through For First Win

Bassett Breaks Through For First Win

Drives Away With K&N Pro East Opener at New Smyrna

NEW SMYRNA, Fla. – A year after coming up just short at New Smyrna Speedway, Ronnie Bassett Jr. walked away with the Jet Tools 150 Sunday night for his first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory.

In his 40th career start, Bassett led the final 42 laps – the first laps he’s led in the series – and out-distanced runner-up Zane Smith by 3.563 seconds.

Bassett started seventh and by Lap 108 had moved the No. 04 Bassett Gutters and More Ford to the front. He used a strong restart to pass his brother Dillon Bassett for the race lead.

“I was just watching the restarts,” said Ronnie Bassett, “and I picked a spot in the two lines, and I went after it, and I guess my brother spun his tires a little bit.”

Bassett finished third at New Smyrna last season and is the only driver that was entered into Sunday’s race that has competed in all four series visits to the Florida half-mile.

“We work extremely hard to make these race cars good every weekend,” Ronnie Bassett said. “We’ve had some good runs. We’ve finished second, third, fourth and fifth, but we’ve just never been able to capture the deal, and tonight, I guess was our night and we were able to get it done.”

Smith, making his NASCAR K&N Pro Series debut, was fastest overall in practice but had to start his No. 43 Diamondback Towing Toyota in the 25th position after his qualifying run was disallowed for an infraction. 

“The car was good,” Smith said. “Still mad at myself for the qualifying deal, but I cannot thank everyone enough for all they did getting this thing on rails, and I really think if we were able to start up front, it’d be a different story.”

Derek Kraus, Harrison Burton and Travis Cope rounded out the top five. Earlier in the day, Burton captured his second 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Brewing Co.

Reid Wilson finished sixth, followed by Hunter Baize, Chase Purdy, Todd Gilliland and Spencer Davis.

Gilliland, the defending race winner, blew a tire on Lap 103 while leading. Davis, who qualified second, was penalized on the opening lap for jumping the race’s initial start. Dillon Bassett led a race-high 79 laps but finished 24th after being involved in a late-race accident.

The Jet Tools 150 will air on NBCSN on Saturday, February 25 at 10 a.m.

Up next on the schedule for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East is the Kevin Whitaker 150 at South Carolina’s Greenville Pickens Speedway on Saturday, April 8.

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