New Smyrna Speedway could be days away from winning $50,000.
The local track is one of six short tracks across the country that advanced to the final round of the Advance Auto Parts “Advance My Track Challenge” — a grassroots program that celebrates the connection between NASCAR’s local short tracks, their communities and passionate racing fans.
The program started in March and allowed fans to vote up to three times a day for their favorite track on AdvanceMyTrack.com.
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The five other tracks that advanced: Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa; Alaska Raceway Park in Palmer, Alaska; Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan; Hudson Speedway in Hudson, New Hampshire; and La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem, Wisconsin.
“My time racing on short tracks across the Southeast is a big reason why I’m in the NASCAR Cup Series today,” said Cup Series driver Ryan Blaney, who teamed up with Advance Auto Parts in February to promote the campaign.
This season, Blaney’s No. 12 Penske Ford has featured at least one short track along the side of the car each race. New Smyrna Speedway was featured during the Feb. 11 Daytona Duel race.
Blaney, who won at Atlanta earlier this season, delivered the news via video call to New Smyrna Speedway GM Rusty Marcus last week.
“It’s a big, fast half-mile,” Blaney said of the Speedway, which opened in 1967 as a dirt track but was paved six months later to begin hosting World Series of Stock Car events during Daytona Speedweeks. “The high banks and things like that … it’s awesome.”
Over the past five decades the half-mile oval has seen dozens of famous NASCAR drivers pass through, including Bobby and Davey Allison, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Blaney.
The six tracks will now be part of a two-day final round of voting, scheduled to begin Sunday, May 9.
The track receiving the most votes in the final round will receive the $50,000 grand prize for track facility enhancements and community-based programs. The track finishing with the second-most votes receives $15,000, with the third-place track winning $10,000.
Marcus said the money, however much it may be, will be put to good use.
“Well, we need a new generator,” he said. “Electricity is a big cost at a facility like this. We also want to get an electronic timing and scoring system.”
Those aren’t the only ideas, though. Should the Speedway receive enough votes, and enough money, Marcus has grander plans.
“We want to put on a premier race where the fans are admitted for free,” he said. “That will bring light to the grassroots (racing). There are some people who have never seen a race before, and those are the people we want to come. They’re going to have one heck of a night here.
“And the night that we would do it? The Thursday night before the Coke Zero Sugar 400 (in August).”
The final two days of voting begins this Sunday. Fans can vote at http://advancemytrack.com/.