After putting a solid rookie season together, Danny Benedict will return to Sunset Speedway once again in 2017 – but will be behind the wheel of the new chassis. Benedict revealed earlier in the off-season that he was getting a new chassis built by Shaw Motorsports for the upcoming season.
“It’s definitely going to be different than 2016, but we’re going into it with the best people possible for support,” he told Short Track Musings. “We’re confident in our equipment and the piece we’re building, and I have all the confidence in the world in my guys. We’re not expecting to light the world on fire, by any means, but the goal this year is definitely compete more than we did last year.”
The driver of the No. 54 GTA Race Design, Thinkpath Design, Shaw Chassis, Dan McHattie Race Cars, Hoys Garage, B&W Enterprises, Denise Reid Photography, Mayhew Graphics, Mark Rainford Auto Sales, Irwin Tax, Baudo Automotive and Permatex Late Model stated it was an easy decision to go with a Shaw Chassis, following discussions with Scott Shaw which started mid-season.
“Jason was aboard with idea right away,” Benedict added. “They’re both great guys to work with and they’ve taught me a lot while building this car.”
Going into the year, Benedict is keeping his goals in check, stating he hopes “to just build on what we were able to do last year. As long as we continue to improve and learn, the results will follow”. The balanced expectations come from knowing the level of competition currently at Sunset Speedway.
“The late model division at Sunset is by far the best weekly late model class in the province,” he said. “The competition and equipment there is so good. You have to be on your game every week in order to compete. Just to able to compete there is an accomplishment in its own.”
This past season, Benedict made the jump up from the Mini Stock division to Limited Late Model, having some success along the way with five top-10 finishes. While admitting there weren’t any moments which stood out, he did note it was cool to race guys like Ryan Kimball, Chris Morrow and Dwight Brown whom he grew up watching.
“I thought we had a respectable rookie campaign in 2016,” he said. “We were able to learn a lot with the old car we had, and I was able to get some seat time. It was a learning curve to say the least but we persevered through it all.”
Through the end of the year, it appeared as though things were coming together for Benedict, as highlighted by an impressive sixth place finish and his best run of the season on September 3.
“There wasn’t really one specific thing we changed that helped us,” he said. “There was definitely a couple nights where we made some adjustments and had some strong runs, but there were also nights that we made bad calls on the setup. I think the best thing we could do at that time was just experiment with different stuff and try to get a good grasp of how the car reacted to each adjustment we made. Near the end we seemed to just start hitting on something that was borderline competitive.”