Daytona International Speedway to add short track races in 2013
There will be no gap in the 2013 Speedweeks stock-car schedule.
Beginning next year, Daytona International Speedway's "dark days," or the Monday and Tuesday before the Daytona 500, will be filled with a mega national event on a short track carved from the backstretch area fronting the Lund Grandstands.
"When I think about adding a short track event here, it's just an opportunity to connect with that local racer supporting NASCAR," Speedway president Joie Chitwood III said.
"Thinking about them, getting the chance to run at the World Center of Racing, it felt like the right thing to do. Whether it's a hobby or profession, everybody should have the chance to race at Daytona."
The lineup includes drivers from NASCAR's K&N Pro Series East and West; Whelen Modified Tour North and South; and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I, or weekly track.
All these series are used as stepping stones to NASCAR's more lucrative national series, such as Sprint Cup and Nationwide.
A good example is Trevor Bayne. Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500, ran a full K&N schedule in 2008. Three years later, he won NASCAR's biggest race.
Ben Kennedy, great grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., will compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series this season. His K&N teammate will be Chase Elliott, Bill Elliott's son.
"It will be awesome for the sport," Kennedy said of next year's short track event. "This will be great for the sport. The K&N Series has a lot of talent."
While all the details are not known -- the official announcement is Friday -- The News-Journal has learned Daytona will create a defined, 0.4-mile, flat oval using the newly paved racetrack and skid pad surfaces.
Removable concrete barriers will be used to identify the short track course. The two-day racing program will run under the lights.
Any K&N or Whelen race winner throughout the 2012 season will get an automatic ticket to Daytona's event. NASCAR's top 10 weekly track drivers (the Whelan All-American Series) will also get a Daytona invitation.
In addition NASCAR champions from Canada, Mexico and Europe will receive invites to this inaugural short track competition.
George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president of regional and touring series, said bringing the short-trackers to Daytona will fill two voids.
"From a racing perspective, this is featuring the future stars of the sport at Daytona," Silbermann said. "From a community standpoint, it's reconnecting Speedweeks; it removes Daytona's dark days."
New Smyrna Speedway, which holds the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing during Speedweeks, cheered the decision, even though on those two days of racing, it would be going head-to-head with Daytona's competition.
"We will obviously see more Modifieds down here," NSS general manager Terry Roberts said. "That certainly can help us.
"It's going to be what it is and we'll have to see how we can make it work to our advantage. We'll make it work." Daytona Beach News Journal