A story by Speed51.com
With January coming to a close, Speedweeks is just around the corner as we get deeper into a new season of short track racing. That season will provide plenty of breakout performances, and some drivers are already tipping their hands towards being among those candidates.
Earlier this month, Speed51 offered a list of 10 drivers to keep an eye on with intriguing storylines in the 2020 season. Here is our list of 10 breakout candidates in 2020.
Ricky Weiss – Canadian Ricky Weiss has already shown some of the potential he could display in the 2020 season, winning a feature during the Battle at the Border at Vado Speedway Park (NM) in January.
Weiss finished third in World of Outlaws Late Models points for 2019 and scored a preliminary night win during the Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals. Currently second in World of Outlaws points following the Battle at the Border, Weiss hopes to carry that momentum throughout the season.
Sam Rameau – Last year, Sam Rameau earned NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Rookie of the Year honors. The Massachusetts driver will hope to build on that in his sophomore season with the Tour.
Rameau is a former race-winner with the Modified Racing Series, and scored three top-10s during the 2019 NWMT season. With a full season under his belt, Rameau will be aiming for greater success in the new year.
Jake Garcia – Garcia attracted plenty of attention to close out 2019, as the 14-year-old backed up an Allen Turner Pro Late Model championship at Five Flags Speedway (FL) with a runner-up finish in the 52ndAnnual Snowball Derby.
Garcia put a strong foot forward at CRA SpeedFest, rebounding from an early incident to finish sixth at Crisp Motorsports Park (GA). What will Garcia have for an encore as he competes more frequently in Super Late Models this season?
Ty Gibbs – Ty Gibbs made noise in 2019 with his first wins in stock cars as well as a big Late Model Stock win to start the year. While Gibbs is still not old enough to forge a full ARCA Menards Series campaign, he will look to build on that success with several ARCA national and regional appearances.
Gibbs opened 2019 by winning the Icebreaker 125 at Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC), then scored a pair of wins with both the ARCA Menards Series and the former NASCAR K&N Pro Series. While he won’t be competing for a championship, he will be gunning for wins every time he’s on the track.
Stephen Donahue – The American-Canadian Tour always packs stout fields, but Stephen Donahue put together some strong showings against that competition and could be a name to watch in 2020.
Donahue had a pair of runner-up finishes with the series in 2019, including one in the ACT race during Oxford 250 weekend at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME). He also led 84 laps during a second-place finish at White Mountain Motorsports Park (NH) in August.
Logan Roberson – “Thugg Nasty” is a former FASTRAK World Champion, winning that prestigious Pro Late Model event in 2018. Now, the Virginia native is setting his sights on more Super Late Model racing in 2020.
Roberson already has several events planned for the 2020 season, starting with a trip south to Georgia and Florida with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series for Speedweeks. With appearances at the World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte (NC) and the Gateway Dirt Nationals to close out 2019, Roberson has had some time to work out the bugs with the new car and enter 2020 with his best foot forward.
Carson Macedo – Teamed up again with Kyle Larson Racing after winning the World of Outlaws’ Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year title in 2019, Macedo hopes to insert himself in the championship battle in 2020.
Macedo scored four wins as a rookie with the Outlaws, including a preliminary night win in the Jackson Nationals. The California native finished sixth in series points, and will look to improve on that this year.
Tyler Fabozzi – While victory lane eluded Fabozzi during his rookie season with the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series, he tallied three top-five finishes and finished fourth in the points chase to earn Rookie of the Year honors. Fabozzi will look to improve on a consistent 2019 season as he once again chases the SRL title.
Fabozzi closed out 2019 with a runner-up finish at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, leading 29 laps in a race won by Derek Thorn. Only missing out on the top 10 twice during the SRL season, Fabozzi established the consistency to be a title contender if he can score an elusive win or two in 2020.
Daniel Dye– Daniel Dye won the Pro Late Model track championship at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) in 2019. Now with eyes set on Super Late Model competition, Dye has already made an impression in the 2020 season.
Along with his track title at New Smyrna, Dye finished fourth in the “Baby Rattler” at South Alabama Speedway last year. The Florida driver has started 2020 with top-five finishes in the Super Late Model portion of the Red Eye 50/50 as well as the CRA SpeedFest 200.
Cannon McIntosh – The Oklahoma young gun turned heads at the Lucas Oil Chiil Bowl Nationals, finishing behind a pair of NASCAR Cup Series drivers for a podium finish. That strong audition has earned McIntosh a full-time Keith Kunz Motorsports Midget ride for 2020.
McIntosh finished third in his maiden voyage at the extremely competitive Chili Bowl, behind Kyle Larson and three-time Chili Bowl winner Christopher Bell. After that strong showing, McIntosh will now race the full USAC and POWRi Midget seasons with KKM, which will give him many opportunities to rack up wins this season.
By Souza Media/Kyle Souza (Story Published on NASCAR.com)
Mission accomplished for Sam Rameau.
The Westminster, Massachusetts, driver entered the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season looking to capture the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, and when the 16-race championship points schedule was over, Rameau was celebrating.
He adds his name to a list of 20 drivers in the history of the series who have earned the award — including champion names like Todd Szegedy, Donny Lia and Justin Bonsignore.
“It’s pretty cool to have my name in the record books — this is a prestigious award,” Rameau said. “It was definitely some really good competition between Timmy Catalano, J.B. Fortin and myself.”
Rameau’s best finish of the year was eighth, twice — coming in the NAPA Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway in May, and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s Thompson 125 in June. He finished 14th in the championship standings, and beat Fortin by 48 points in the final tally, with Catalano a close third.
This year was a much of a learning curve for Rameau as anything else in his racing career. His experience previously was in Modifieds in New Hampshire, but it was limited.
“Places that I’ve never seen before, like Myrtle Beach, South Boston, Oswego… all of them I barely had any laps at,” Rameau said. “The only track I had some experience was Seekonk because I raced a Legend Car there. But it was cool to sit in tech with some big names at Thompson because we won the Rookie of the Year.”
As of now, Rameau isn’t sure what his 2020 season is going to look like — but he’s hoping to return to try and accomplish his next goal — winning a Whelen Modified Tour race.
“This year was a definite success, we learned a lot,” Rameau said. “There were a lot of ups and down, and some DNF’s at the end of the year.. We had a break, a wreck… we came out of Thompson making gains. The finish doesn’t always prove how good the weekend really was.”
A story by Connor Sullivan/Speed51.com
After turning 14 years old during the summer of 2016, Sam Rameau and Rameau Family Motorsports wasted no time breaking into the ranks of Tour-type Modified competition straight out of go-karts. After three years centered mainly around the Modified Racing Series, the Westminster, Massachusetts young gun is set to take on the pinnacle of Modified competition in 2019.
Sunday night Rameau posted on his Facebook page that he and his family are assembling an over-the-wall pit crew for a full-time run at the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Monday afternoon Rameau confirmed exclusively to Speed51.com that he will be competing for NWMT Rookie of the Year honors next season.
It is a change that Rameau has been working towards since the start of the 2018 season, which culminated with his Whelen Modified Tour debut at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park during the season-ending Sunoco World Series.
“I knew at the end of this season right before the North-South Shootout that’s our plan, we’re going to run the full NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season, and we are very excited about it,” Rameau told Speed51.com. “Right now we’re trying to put a crew together, hopefully we’ll have a full crew and a full plan together before New Year’s.”
Back in October at Thompson, Rameau was originally leaning towards a majority schedule on the NWMT centered around New England tracks and taking the time to run outside the tour with the family team. But over the last month, the team’s attitude changed.
“My dad, who owns the team, and I had the attitude of, ‘If you’re going to do something you might as well do it to the fullest.’ We discussed it, we thought about doing a partial tour schedule with some races elsewhere, but then we decided to give the tour a hundred percent effort and see how it goes.”
According to Rameau, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is the place he wants to be at this point in his young racing career, whether it be for his own career in the Modified ranks or a potential move to an even higher level.
“It’s really cool, especially with people like Ryan Preece, Justin Bonsignore, and everyone that has succeeded at that level and beyond in the highest ranks of NASCAR. It’s going to be cool to race against those guys and hopefully someday be one of them.”
Now 16 years of age, Rameau’s growth in the Modified Racing Series has been noteworthy, culminating his first two feature wins in a Tour-type Modified this past season at Lee USA Speedway (NH) and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME). It has boosted the faith in both himself and his race team to succeed in the goals they have set for the 2019 season.
“It gives me faith for sure,” Rameau said. “My team manager and I were discussing what our goals are going to be for the season. We’re going for Rookie of the Year, a top ten in points, and at least one top-five finish; those are our goals. It would definitely be great to get all that, even if we don’t get a top five finish, Rookie of the Year would still be huge. It’s awesome to have on your resume. I can’t wait to get started at Myrtle Beach.”
Anyone interested in joining the Rameau team can contact Sam Rameau via his personal Facebook account.
Speed51.com will have more on Rameau and the entire Tour-type Modified silly season throughout the winter months.