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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Minnesota Late Model driver Adam Royle might consider buying a surf board from one of the Atlantic Ocean-front shops along The World’s Most Famous Beach next week. That’s because he’s riding a wave of enthusiasm toward the UNOH Battle At The Beach at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 18.
The prestigious first-year event takes place on a .4-mile oval on the backstretch at DIS. Two days of racing begin Feb. 18 with a 150-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model feature. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tours take over the track for 150-lap features on Feb. 19. All divisions will compete in full slates of preliminary events.
To make it to Daytona, Royle, 31, of Lonsdale, Minn., experienced a groundswell of support from his local racing communities surrounding Elko (Minn.) Speedway and Raceway Park in Shakopee, Minn. A friend ardently sold 10 car sponsorships so far. A fundraising benefit was held. Minneapolis-area NASCAR fans are behind him.
“We had a big party at Tailgaters Sports Bar down the street on Jan. 26 and more than 200 people turned out for it,” Royle said. “People I didn’t think were fans of mine came out to support us. We had raffles and sold t-shirts. It was pretty exciting to see that many people. They helped a lot.
“After the last race of the year at Elko I set my mind on going to the Battle At The Beach,” Royle said. “It’s not every day you can say you’re going to compete at Daytona International Speedway. For us Late Model drivers, that’s pretty cool. We need to thank NASCAR, the University of Northwestern Ohio and the speedway for putting this together.”
Royle has a locked-in starting spot in the NASCAR Late Model feature that headlines the first day of the first-ever NASCAR short track events at “The World Center of Racing.” The top 10 finishers in the 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national point race received a “locked-in” starting spot in the main event. Royle placed ninth in points.
“We’re looking forward to racing with guys from other parts of the country we’ve been competing with in points,” Royle said. “It’ll be cool to meet those guys.”
Royle won his third Minnesota NASCAR state championship in 2012 with a record of seven wins, 16 top fives and 18 top 10s in 18 starts. While he did not win a track championship last year, he holds three career Late Model titles at Raceway Park.
The fan support and sponsorship are vital to Royle’s effort. His 1,500-mile one-way trip from Lonsdale to Daytona Beach includes travel on portions of 10 Interstate Highways.
“This is the longest haul we’ve ever made to a race,” he said, adding he’ll depart for Daytona Beach on Feb. 14. “We’re used to racing five minutes from home. Daytona is 24 hours from home. We’re bringing all the spare parts we might need. After the Battle we hope to swap motors and go to New Smyrna Speedway to race.”
New Smyrna Speedway recently joined the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. The half-mile high-banked paved oval hosts its 47th annual “World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing” events Feb. 15-23. The events will be NASCAR-sanctioned with Super Late Models as NASCAR Division I. During New Smyrna’s World Series events NASCAR-licensed Super Late Model drivers from across the nation will receive NASCAR Whelen All-American Series points for each feature finish. All other NASCAR-sanctioned divisions at New Smyrna in February will receive NASCAR Finalist Division points.
Royle revamped his Pathfinder chassis Ford Fusion to prepare it for The Battle At The Beach. Meanwhile, friend Mike “Lumpy” Lemke was busy attracting sponsors. They include Circle Track magazine, Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords magazine, Ford Racing, Al Kul Radiators, Ultra Cool Brake Fans, Crane Ignition, Cold Fire, Chiak Farms, Interstate Truck Driving School, and Dimitris Bar & Grill. The driver’s dad Jarry Royle is crew chief.
The top 10 “locked-in” Late Model drivers must still compete in the heat races to determine where they’ll start the feature. Heat races will be seeded by fastest lap speeds in each of the final practices and will be followed by a special draw to determine starting positions one through four for the heat race winners. If necessary, a last chance race is available to complete the 34-car field.
The three UNOH Battle At The Beach feature events over two days will be carried live on SPEED and MRN. Supplemental event coverage will be provided at www.nascarhometracks.com.
For more information, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com. Grandstand and garage admission can be secured via the website or by calling 1-888-PITSHOP.