Interviews

FIVE STORYLINES TO WATCH: OSCAAR Modifieds

After only seeing themselves on track four times last season, the stars of the Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modified tour are excited to get to the track in 2021, beginning with Sunset Speedway on July 25.

Just under a month away from the season opener, here are some storylines to watch.

What is in the cards for Wally Wilson this year?

A lot of people get some full-size car experience before jumping behind the wheel of a modiifed, but that wasn’t the case for Wally Wilson. Instead, he went from a midget and it showed on-track. The rookie campaign was nothing to write home about, but he has been working hard at improving behind the wheel as a driver, combined with his team putting the time in behind the scenes.

The progress paid of with a career-best eighth last season at Sunset Speedway, and make s you wonder what the next step will hold. Could we consistently see the No. 69 in the top-10?

“Looking back in the shortened 2020 season, I’d say that we were able to put together a solid campaign,” Wilson said. “While I was able to gain my best career finish, we’ve still got some work to do, but I think we showed that we’re going to be a force next season!”

Will a year off to reset pay off for Bryan Batty?

If there was someone who wanted to forget 2019, that’d be Bryan Batty. It seemed no matter when he hit the track in the No. 39, there was always a headache awaiting him at the checkered flag.

While COVID-19 is certainly not something anyone wants to see in the world, it provided the perfect opportunity for Batty to take a year off, and do some work behind the scenes. The hope is with everything rebuilt and aligned, he can avoid the mechanical gremlins and bad luck that plagued him in 2019.

“After a brutal 2019 and COVID, we didn’t mind taking the year off to regroup,” he admitted. “We got to spend a lot of time getting other projects done while upgrading our program to a whole new level that we are confident with.”

Can Norman Newman score his first career series victory?

The joy of reaching victory lane can be special for any driver, but imagine doing it for the time. That’s something Norman Newman is hoping to accomplish in 2021. He was solid this past year with a top-10 each week, and a season-best fifth at Sunset Speedway, however beneath expectations.

“2020 wasn’t a good year for us,” he admitted. “We had multiple small issues that could have been prevented back at the shop but we’ve learned from our mistakes going forward into 2021.”

The breakout star from the 2019 proved he has speed to run with the series’ best, as evident by heat victories and top-five performances. So the next logical step is leading laps and a race win, right?

Can A.J. Emms repeat the fall Sunset Speedway magic?

The last time the modified stars tackled the Innisfil oval, it was A.J. Emms visiting victory lane after holding off Andy Kamrath in a late-race dash.

Seeing the No. 14 in victory lane is no strange occurrence, being a past series champion and six race wins, but it was his first triumph at Sunset Speedway. So can they repeat the success? Some hard work and dedication says it’s quite possible.

“I think it’s going to be a really strong year for the OSCAAR Modified division with a lot of good talent coming in and a lot of great racecars,” he said. “I think the competition will be the highest been in the series, and I know for us, and our entire team, we’re working at making sure we’re competitive this year. We’ve done a lot of work this off-season, like everybody else has, to make sure our car is prepared and be up to the task of competing.

“I think last year we learned a lot and were able to try some different things with the shortened season and not having points, and we’re hoping we can take some of the things that we learned last year and implement them. Hopefully we’re up for the challenge and I’m excited to just get back in the racecar and turn some laps.”

Can Gary McLean rekindle the past magic?

There was a time when the No. 8 was in OSCAAR Modified victory lane on a weekly basis, however that hasn’t been the case recently. Instead, the last couple seasons have been met with a couple different reasons to struggle.

He showed potential in that regard in his lone start at Jukasa Motor Speedway in 2020. Unfortunately after qualifying on pole, though, McLean would suffer a motor issue to take him out of contention.

“Obviously we need to race more,” he shared. “You can’t just show up in the middle of the year and expect to be as fast as the guys who are making laps and laps all year.”

If the No. 8 team can get their program back on-track, though, it will certainly be interesting to see where they stack up, considering the progress as seen by other teams over recent seasons.

“We love all of the tracks and it would be hard to miss any of them,” he commented. “Besides, I think the OSCAAR fans have had a long enough break from the (No.) 8 mod and I am sure most of the competitors miss us.”

 

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