With 15 feature top-fives under his belt so far this season at Sunset Speedway, it’s safe to say things are going well for Danny Benedict and company.
“We’ve had a really successful season so far,” he told SHORT TRACK MUSINGS. “We’ve learned a lot and had a lot of fun along the way.”
The victories have been a result of hard work over the past couple of seasons to go from running mid-pack as a rookie to running up front, beginning with his first career victory at the end of last season in the Velocity 250. The difference between 2017 and now is something that Benedict says that come downs to him as a driver.
“Dale (Shaw)’s been helping me the last couple years really understand how these cars drive and what you have to do to be competitive,” he commented. “The other part is just having a good car every week. It’s no secret that when I first started in late model racing I didn’t know much about the setups in the cars. Now we’ve been able to find a base setup that really works for us and we know how to adjust on it to make it better on days when we struggle.”
The struggles have seemed to be few and far between this year with just two finishes outside of the top-six through 19 races this season and six feature wins under his belt.
“Anytime you can win a feature at Sunset, you know you’ve accomplished something,” he said. “I definitely like winning the longer distance races though. We’ve won three of the 60 lap races this year and I think that really amplifies how good our team is at the longer races.”
The success has placed him right in the middle of the championship battle, sitting second in the standings, just 13 points behind Gord Shepherd for the lead with two nights remaining.
“We’ve always said that the best way to win a championship is to win races,” he said. “We put ourselves in a bit of a hole against the 10 car now, so all we can do is try and win as many races as possible and hopefully it all falls into place.”
To walk away with a championship at this level would certainly mean everything for the No. 54 Late Model team given the level of competition right now at Sunset Speedway.
“Late model racing in Ontario is extremely competitive right now,” he commented. “No matter where you look, whether it’s the LLM division or the PLM division, there’s a lot of talent, whether it’s young kids just getting into it, or veterans who have been in it for years. It really excites me for the future.”
While the end of points season is at the focus right now, you have to also look ahead to next month with the beginning of the short track playoffs where Benedict is favored as one of the drivers to possibly take home some wins.
“The playoffs are always a fun time of year,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to the Velocity weekend and trying to defend our title. We’re also excited for the Autumn Colours Classic race, now that Peterborough (Speedway) has combined the LLM race and the PLM race. We’re still trying to iron out the details of which car to take, but Dale or I will definitely have a car there.”