Posted: Wednesday, January 21st 2009 at 1:28pm
SpeedFest ready to roll at Lanier
By staff reports
NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kyle Busch will take part in some this weekend's SpeedFest races at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton. / photo: Associated Press
BRASELTON -– In the span of only five years, SpeedFest has become one of the most anticipated short track races on the entire calendar. Since the race got its start in 2005, it has been an event that has attracted some of the top Super Late Model teams from across the United States to compete in the middle of winter.
The 2009 version of the event is even bigger than it has ever been before -– thanks to several major changes.
For the first four versions of the race, its venue was USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Fla. When that track closed abruptly in the middle of the 2008 season, there were doubts as to what would come next for SpeedFest. But the event was relocated to Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, and that allowed for several exciting changes.
In addition to the headlining 200-lap CRA Super Series Super Late Model race, a 100-lap Georgia Asphalt Series Pro Late Model event was added to the weekend lineup. Since Georgia is a hotbed for Pro Late Model racing, that has attracted dozens of entries. Some teams even plan to go for the gold in both features, taking aim at a $10,000 bonus available if the same driver can win both events. Short track top guns Eddie Hoffman of Illinois, Ben Rowe of Maine, and Indiana native Jeff Fultz are just two of the drivers eyeing that bonus money.
The new venue also attracted the interest of a home state racing hero. Dawsonville’s Bill Elliott will enter his Bill Elliott Driver Development team with young Casey Roderick behind the wheel in both weekend events. Elliott will also serve as the Grand Marshall of the Sunday racing festivities.
Elliott won’t be the only name at SpeedFest that will be familiar to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series fans. Kyle Busch will enter the CRA race with his own No. 51 Super Late Model. Meanwhile, another No. 51 entry will be fielded by SPEED TV personality Bob Dillner, who will enter Georgian young gun Michael Pope in his BDI Racing Chevrolet Impala SS. Penske Racing’s newest driver, David Stremme’s, will enter his team in the race as well –- with 17-year-old Matt DiBenedetto poised to make his Super Late Model debut in Stremme’s No. 35 Super Late Model.
Also entered in the Sunday race are 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year candidate John Wes Townley and former NASCAR Cup Series driver Stanley Smith.
Short track racing fans will recognize many familiar names on the entry lists as well.
Other drivers entered for Sunday’s CRA Super Late Model race include two-time Snowball Derby winner Augie Grill, 2008 CRA Super Series champion Scott Hantz, 2008 Southern Slam 250 winner Justin Drawdy, 2008 PASS North Rookie of the Year D.J. Shaw, former ASA Late Model champion Brian Campbell, 2008 Blizzard Series Super Late Model champion Josh Hamner and former SpeedFest winners Jeff Choquette and Eddie Hoffman.
Drivers who have entered the Saturday GAS Pro Late Model race include Russell Fleeman, Max Gresham, Kyle Fowler and Drew Brannon.
Areas of the country that are represented on the SpeedFest entry list include Georgia, the Midwest, New England, the Deep South, Florida and the Carolinas.
And while moving to Lanier has been good for SpeedFest, having the race come to the track has also been good for the entire area. Lanier National Speedway is planning an exciting season with plenty of newness surrounding the racetrack, including taking part in promoting the surrounding area.
“There is a lot to do in this area of Georgia throughout the year, even in January,” added Roberts. “Lake Lanier is always a beautiful area. There are outlet malls just down the road, and the Chateau Élan Winery is within a short drive as well. We feel this area is a dynamic place for people to visit, and that’s why we want to make Lanier National Speedway and the surrounding area a destination for racing fans.”
SpeedFest 2009 weekend will kick off with an open practice day on Friday, Jan. 23, at Lanier National Speedway for all Pro and Super Late Model competitors. More practice and qualifying events for both divisions will take place on Saturday, Jan. 24, with the 200-lap Super Late Model and the 100-lap Pro Late Model events going green on Sunday, Jan. 25.
Entry forms for the Super Late Model portion of SpeedFest weekend are currently available on both craracing.net and lanierspeedway.com, as well as Speed51.com, the official website of SpeedFest 2009.
Entry forms for the Pro Late Model portion of the weekend are available at lanierspeedway.com, as well as Speed51.com
For more information on SpeedFest 2009, visit speed51.com, craracing.net and lanierspeedway.com. If you have any questions regarding the event, please call the respective series or track representative.
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