Throughout the off-season, Short Track Musings has been in contact with various drivers and teams getting first-hand knowledge about their plans for the 2019 season. The various conversations led to several information across all of the divisions, specifically Sunset Speedway’s Sauble Falls Tent and Trailer Park Late Models.
As we get ready for the season opener at Sunset Speedway, here is what we learned in relation to the Late Models as of May 10, 2019.
The division will be set to include a top-notch rookie of the year battle.
After having success in the Super Stock division, Robbie Sikes will make the step up to Late Models, courtesy of an opportunity virtue of Spencer-Walt Motorsports, with Eldon Wallis and Rick Spencer-Walt putting Sikes behind the wheel of their No. 34 Late Model. It is the same car that Spencer-Walt piloted to multiple victories throughout 2018, including a pair of championships.
“To get an opportunity like this is just unreal,” Sikes commented. “I don’t think it has fully set in yet. There’s a lot of history between Rick and myself – a lot of fun had over the years. I’m excited to get back to that. I’ve also known Eldon a long time; he used to help Ed Byers who was a vital part of getting my racing career rolling. After the last two seasons I’ve had, for them to still believe in my ability as a race car driver, is a great feeling.”
On the other hand, Daniel Montanari will be making the bigger jump, stepping behind the wheel of a Late Model after winning the 2018 Signs of Innovation Mini Stock Championship. The car will be familiar to the team, as he will drive the same chassis piloted by his brother Nic Montanari in 2018.
“Definitely excited about it,” he told SHORT TRACK MUSINGS at the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo. “Little bit nervous racing against the top guys in Ontario. it’s definitely going to be a big jump, but I think we’ll be ready as a team. We have all of our marketing partners in place, so we’re definitely excited about it.”
They’ll both have to contend with Stefan Semeraro, who makes his move up from the St. Onge Recreation Super Stock division following a runner-up performance last year.
“Heading into 2019, I think we just need what we do – cross our t’s and dot our I’s in the shop, and when we show up we know what we bring and that alone should excite the fans and sponsors,” he said.
Kendra Adams will also be back behind the wheel, balancing her obligations with Speed51.com and driving.
“I’m really excited going into 2019,” she told SHORT TRACK MUSINGS at the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo. “I’m really excited to show off the new package that we have. I think our car is going to be a lot better than it has been the last few years, and I’m just excited to get back on-track and improve and show everybody that we have a really good car, and that we’re here to do well.”
Named to the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, Danny Benedict is hoping to go back-to-back with another championship this season at Sunset Speedway. He will miss three events as a result of running the full APC Auto Parts United Late Models of Ontario Tour, with past track champion Taylor Holdaway filling in those nights.
“We’re really excited about it,” he told STM at Motorama. “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.”
The Sunset Speedway division looks pretty healthy as several drivers make their return for 2019, including Travis Hallyburton. He will joined on-track by his brother Thayne Hallyburton.
“Honestly – the only thing worth remembering about last summer is how our team never backed down from any of the bad luck that was thrown at us,” Travis Hallyburton told CABRAL RACING PROMOTIONS. “Other than that, I think the whole team is ready to leave everything that happened during 2018 in the rear-view. It wasn’t our best work – that’s for sure.”
After a successful season placing fourth in the year-end standings at Sunset Speedway, Ron Quesnelle and KDR Motorsports will be back full-time in the Sauble Falls Tent and Trailer Park Late Model division.
“We did a bunch of stuff this winter to the car so hope it made it a little bit better,” Quesnelle said. “Our plan is to try to run better and if we get one win, we might get one more.”
Al Inglis will also be returning to Sunset Speedway, though with a new car as he purchased a Streamline Racing Chassis previously piloted by Taylor Holdaway.
“Our entire team is as excited for this season as we’ve been in a really, really long time,” says Inglis. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a fresh car in our shop so this has been a real exciting off-season. This has been almost like hitting the ‘Reset’ button for our team. We’re ready to go.”
After spending last season at the beach, Jordan Latimer will return to his home track, Sunset Speedway, for the 2019 race season. He will once again be competing in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I Limited Late Models.
“This year we’re going out to get wins,” he commented. “We’re not worried about points or anything like that to start off. This will be the last year with this car so we are going to do what we can to get a couple wins before we send it off to a new series.”
Other front runners that have been seen out testing ahead of opening weekend include Billy Zardo, Dwayne Baker, Mike Wilkinson, A.J. Emms, Peterborough Speedway regular Brandon Feeney, division veteran Paul Maltese, 2018 Sunset Speedway Champion Gord Shepherd, and multi-feature winner Nick Goetz. All of these drivers are expected to at least run a handful of events, with the majority running the full schedule.