Since making the switch from Mini Stocks to Late Models, Danny Benedict has steadily shown improvement behind the wheel each season on-track. He and his team’s commitment paid off in 2022, in the form of the Sunset Speedway Pro Late Model Track Championship.
“Any time you can win a championship against the caliber of drivers we race against, it’s a big deal for a team,” Benedict told SHORT TRACK MUSINGS. “We didn’t have a perfect season at Sunset but consistency really paid off for us. We needed to essentially win the race on the last night, so to have our whole team step up when the pressure was on definitely made it that much more rewarding.”
Although he started off the year with a sixth on opening night, consistency was the name of the game for the No. 54 the rest of the season with no results outside of the top-five. He put the icing on the cake on the final night, battling for the lead from the drop of the green flag. He took the top spot solely on Lap 4, and did not look back the rest of the way through en route to the victory and championship. That specific feature ranks as his favourite moment of 2022, not only for the win but for family reasons.
“It was a special night, and to have my whole family there, including my grandma was very special,” he recalled. “We lost my grandpa earlier in the summer and to be able to celebrate those moments and come together with my family is what racings all about.”
Benedict also proved to be fast in the APC Auto Parts United Late Model Series, placing seventh in the standings with four top-five’s and seven top-10’s across nine races. Although he was unable to reach victory lane, he scored a season-best runner-up on August 27 at Sauble Speedway.
It was a much better campaign overall in contrary to 2021, where it seemed bad luck bit him each week with just three top-10’s in eight races to place 15th in the year-end standings.
“It was definitely one of our best years on the tour,” Benedict commented. “There was a couple blemishes that kept us from cracking the top 5. If you take the DNF at Peterborough out, and a couple other races that we just had bad luck in, I think we could’ve broke into the top 5. I’m definitely proud of the year we had.”
As he looks to be even stronger in 2023, he feels he and his team are on the right track – but just need to put all the pieces together.
“Those APC races are so hard to win,” he said. “The support we’ve gotten from MRE has really stepped up our racing program, and I’m excited to continue that partnership in the future. We’ll also have some big news on that partnership coming soon.”
It’s why he is keeping the goals for the new year simple, with a focus on getting his first career APC victory after coming close a few times in the past.
“I really think 2023 is the year we can finally get it done,” he commented. “Other than that, we’ll be taking it one race at a time. There’s always more to learn with these types of cars so as long as we continue to learn and get better, I think we’ll have a strong season.”