51's MODIFIED MADNESS  Presented by Advance Auto Parts Compiled by Mike Twist
News From Throughout The Mod-ern World - North and South, Asphalt and Dirt

The 2006 edition of the Florida Tour officially kicked off Tuesday evening at Volusia Speedway Park with a record number of Advance Auto Parts Modified Super DIRT Series teams taking advantage of the optional practice sessions to dial in their open-wheel mounts. Two warm-up periods were afforded competitors in DIRT MotorSports NorthEast's premier division, with nearly 50 drivers taking part representing seven states plus the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
Yuhas, who, as an accountant, has to take a less active role in the preparation of the car during tax season. "It will be important for me to get valuable seat time."

With the highly competitive nature of the Tour, the young man is realistic about his goals for 2006.

"Our first goal is to qualify for each race," said Yuhas. "Ultimately, we want to be a top-ten team. Realistically, we want to run competitively, gain experience and the respect of the drivers. I think that solid finishes will come as a result."

In 2005, Yuhas scored four wins in the SK Modified division at the Waterford Speedbowl to finish fifth in Region IV of the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series standings. In only seven full seasons of SK Modified racing, Yuhas has collected 20 career wins (at the Waterford Speedbowl and Thompson International Speedway combined).

Yuhas began racing quarter midgets at the age of six. After three Quarter Midget national championships, Yuhas took some time off from racing. High school became a priority, as did other sports. After graduating, Yuhas headed to Bryant College in Smithfield, RI where he continued playing college baseball. In 1998, Yuhas returned to racing at the Waterford Speedbowl as a part-time competitor in the SK Modified division. Yuhas ran the full schedule at the Speedbowl during the 1999 and 2000 seasons. Over the next three seasons, the family operation ran at both Thompson and Waterford-finishing in the top-ten in the points standings at both tracks each year and posting at least one victory per season at each.

In addition to the Tour in 2006, Yuhas will compete in the Sunoco Modified division at Thompson in the #49 car with the Buddington Road Boys. They also plan on running the three extra-distance SK Modified events at the Waterford Speedbowl during the 2006 season.
Auto Parts Super DIRT Series as well as competing weekly at New York DIRT sanctioned tracks.  While their final schedule is yet to be determined, expect to see the team at three tracks weekly utilizing PMC and Bicknell cars powered by Enders Motors.

The Currier Motorsports #10 team will be led by winning crew chief Stu Sheppard and will run the 2005 Bicknell mount previously driven by Matt in 2005 as a 358 modified.  Rookie sportsman driver Tim Currier recently completed his fourth season in the quarter midget ranks with 35 wins in 64 starts, three tracks titles, and two New York State Series championships.    Tim expects to compete weekly at Canandaigua, Cayuga County and Rolling Wheels Speedways.

Still more race teams are expected to sign in on Wednesday for the big-block Modified opener as the 35th Annual Winternationals continues Race Weeks '06 in the Sunshine State. DIRT NE's 31st season of short-track racing is scheduled to begin down south on Feb. 15 with a full set of qualifiers followed by a 30-lap feature race paying $2,000 to win.

Leading the Advance Auto Parts SDS contingent during hot lap sessions was New Yorker Dale Planck steering the #77x.  Open-wheel veteran Danny Johnson and reigning Florida Tour points co-champion Andy Bachetti followed Planck in session one while Delaware invader

While the Brett Hearn #20 remained locked up during opening day practice, DIRT NorthEast's winningest driver still has more laps logged during the winter months than any of the opposition set to contend this week. Last week Hearn traveled to Carolina Speedway in Gastonia, NC where he circled the 4/10-mile clay oval no less than 300 times sharing duties between his new big-block DIRT Modified machine and the no. 57 ride of teammate Martin Roy, Jr. from Victoriaville, Quebec. The invitation was extended by track promoter David Ifft, the crew chief for his initial Grand National effort at Dover Downs (finished 10th) and also a former pit wrench for NASCAR legend David Pearson.

"I had talked about practicing down here before but it just never happened," said Hearn, who described the Carolina oval as "kind of like Volusia with a broad turn three and tight turn four with nothing symmetric all the way around." Added Hearn, "Dave would really like to host an Advance Super DIRT Series race but it’s just too long a trip for most teams. It's a nice layout
Jamie Mills and third-generation Canadian standout Stewart Friesen trailed Planck in the nightcap.

It was Planck recording the fastest times in both practice attempts.

With Brett Hearn and Steve Hough electing to keep their cars loaded, the first group pulled out onto the track for the initial laps that were afforded at 7:30pm following Late Model hot laps. Planck (18.349 sec.) was one of eight drivers to break the 19-second bracket, turning in an average one-lap speed of 98.098 mph.

The second and final session arrived just prior to 11pm and before the UMP Late Model and Modified consolation rounds. This time it was Planck stopping the clocks at 19.325 sec. (93.144 mph) despite the smooth half-miler beginning to blacken and slick up as the program progressed.


Ron Yuhas, Jr. of Groton, CT has added his name to the growing list of rookies that will compete in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2006. After a successful career in SK Modified racing, Yuhas will make the step up to the Tour fulfilling a lifelong goal.
that also reminds me a little bit of Weedsport and seems like a real fat 3/8-miler. We probably won't ever run there but it's a great place to get some laps in before the season starts." Hearn is the winningest Advance Auto Parts SDS pilot in Florida with 15 big-block Modified victories to his credit.


Big Diamond (Pa.) Raceway officials and Race of Champions Dirt Modified Tour administrative director Andrew Harpell have confirmed two stops apiece in 2006 by the RoC Dirt Modified and Sportsman Tours at the rejuvenated facility.
The RoC Dirt Mods will visit Big Diamond again this season.  (Big Diamond Speedway / Bobby Armbruster Photo)
The three-eighths-mile oval will host two RoC doubleheader programs, featuring the RoC Dirt Modified Tour and RoC Dirt Sportsman Tour in South Region events on Tues., June 6 and Tues., July 25.

The Modified teams will compete in 75-lap features, while the Sportsman racers will run 40-lap mains.

"I'm happy to have Big Diamond back on board," said Harpell. "It's always good to see a track get new life, and that's exactly what the new management is doing with Big Diamond.  There is potential for a great show
Yuhas will wheel the same car that was numbered #29 for James Civali last season.  (51 Photo)
Brett Hearn (DIRT Photo)
"Since I was a kid, I wanted to compete on the Modified Tour, " said Yuhas. "I am extremely fortunate to have that opportunity now. I have a great group of people behind me allowing me to pursue my ambitions."

During the off-season, Yuhas purchased a Chevy-powered Chassis Dynamics car that had been campaigned on a limited basis in the past by Ronnie Silk and James Civalli. Currently the team is working hard to get ready for the upcoming practices at Thompson International Speedway.

"The guys have put a tremendous amount of work into the car so that we can be ready for practice," said
Unique to this relationship is that Ross Motorsports in turn will offer technical support to a newly formed dirt sportsman team whose driver will be Tim Currier, the 16 year old son of John Currier. 

Currier Plastics Inc. is a recognized leader in the custom injection molded and extrusion blow molded industry and manufactures products for many markets including telecommunications, medical, lawn and garden, electronic, automotive, personal care, food service, dairy, and pharmaceuticals.  Approximately 140 employees work at the Auburn, NY based company that was founded in 1982.

Ross Motorsports will again follow the entire Advance
there. I know Buddy (Biever) has spoken about the facility improvements being made. I'm pretty excited to see what they've done."

Similar to the 2005 season, the rules will be adjusted to equalize the mix of engine combinations eligible for Modified competition.

Last year, Big D hosted two RoC Dirt Modified South Region events.  Jeff Strunk and Billy Pauch split victories in those two events.


In 2006, Currier Plastics, Inc. will be an associate sponsor for the #44 Ross Motorsports modified team driven by Matt Sheppard.
Ross Motorsports and the #44 entry of Matt Sheppard will have a driver development program of sorts this year.  (DIRT Photo)
Danny Johnson was second quickest in opening practice at Voluisa County Speedway.  (DIRT Photo)