MISSISSUAGA, Ontario — After a competitive consistent season that led to winning the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I Ontario Provincial Championship, Danny Benedict is ready to double down this year at Sunset Speedway.
“We had a really good season last year at Sunset,” he told SHORT TRACK MUSINGS. “We broke out, and really, we were consistent all year so really happy. Looking forward to building on that, and trying to get my feet wet in the Pro Late Model stuff as well. Those guys are really, really good in the APC Series, so it’ll be good to move up and learn a bit hopefully. Hopefully we can learn a bit and apply that back to our limited late model stuff, and compete for the championship at Sunset Speedway.”
With his success at Sunset Speedway, Benedict feels right now is the time for him to step it up into the Pro Late Model division, as he will run the full APC Auto Parts United Late Models of Ontario Series and Sunset Speedway Limited Late Model schedule in 2019.
Going up against the top drivers in Pro Late Model competition with the APC Series, Benedict isn’t setting any goals as of yet.
“Building a new car, you never know what’s going to happen,” he commented. “So just going to play it week-by-week and see how it goes. Hopefully we’ll find speed right away in the car. It’s a really big help for me that the first stop on the tour is Sunset Speedway, somewhere I am really familiar with. Hopefully we get the car really quick right out of the box and just start learning. It’s a pretty short series, so we’re hoping to pick it up really quick, but we also realize it’s a learning year and will do our best to compete.”
In trying to do both schedules, there are three events that overlap, but Sunset has allowed drivers running both to have someone fill-in for them on the nights they will miss. Benedict has already announced that he will be putting past Sunset Speedway track champion Taylor Holdaway in the car.
“We’re really excited about it,” he said. “When Sunset first told us we could have a substitute driver, he was the first name that came to mind right away. It was an easy choice as Taylor is really respectful on the track, really good with equipment. We know he’s not going to go out there and smash it up, so we’re excited for it. He’s had a lot of success so a little bit of pressure put on him to perform, but no, we’re really happy with it. We think he’s going to do really big things with the car, and we expect him to do well.”
Even with the success he was able to have at Sunset Speedway last year, Benedict knows it won’t be easy, especially with the drivers that are returning after spending a season away.
“Obviously, everybody steps up their program year-to-year to say that we’re going to have the same season as last year, it’s pretty hard to say,” he expressed. “But we’re hoping to find some speed right off the bat and hopefully pick up right where we left off. The second half of the year was big for us, and did a lot for our team, so hopefully just pick up from there.”
His success to date hasn’t gone unnoticed, though, as he was announced as a semi-finalist in the Alan Kulwicki Driver Development Program. The seven finalist will be announced on Monday, March 25 on Speed51.com’s Morning Bullring show.
“It’s so huge for us,” Benedict said. “Alan was always a small guy in the NASCAR series and we consider our team to be one of the smaller teams in Ontario. We don’t have a ton of guys, we don’t have a huge budget by any means, but we make up for that with a lot of hard work. So to be able to be accepted this far into this program is really cool for us. We feel it has gotten us a little more recognition than other things in the past. We’re really hoping to make the final seven, and hopefully just carry the banner all season.”