Sunbury's Smith to race at Daytona

Mark Smith, of Sunbury, is scheduled to compete in the NASCAR truck series race to be contested Sunday, Aug. 16, on the Daytona International Speedway road course.

SUNBURY — Niece Motorsports recently announced that Mark Smith, of Sunbury, will drive the team’s No. 42 Chevrolet Silverado during the inaugural NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series race to be held Sunday, Aug. 16, on the road course at Daytona International Speedway.

After finishing 15th with the team in 2019 at the Eldora Speedway in Ohio, Smith has scored 14 wins this year in winged 360 sprint car competition. He holds the points lead in the USCS 360 Outlaw Sprint Car standings.

“It’s every racer’s dream to run at Daytona,” Smith said, in a press release issued by Niece Motorsports. “I’m grateful for Niece Motorsports and my sponsors for allowing me to check off this life-changing experience from my bucket list.

“I’m thrilled to build off of the chemistry we had at Eldora last year, and fight to get Niece Motorsports the finishes its exceptional equipment is capable of at the iconic Daytona road course.”

Owned by United States Marine Corps Veteran Al Niece, Niece Motorsports is in its fourth year of full-time competition in the truck series.

The team has three victories in finished second in the 2019 series standings with driver Ross Chastain.

“We are excited for the challenge that the Daytona road course presents, and are proud to once again partner with Mark Smith and his impeccable racing pedigree,” team General Manager Cody Efaw said. “We’re confident he’ll represent our organization with a strong performance during this historic event.”

The road course at Daytona International Speedway is 3.56 miles in length and features 12 turns. The Rolex 24 at Daytona, an endurance race, is held on the track each January.

The weekend will also feature the debut of the NASCAR Xfinity and Cup series on the road course.

The track was recently added to the schedule for NASCAR’s top three series due to the cancelation of the truck race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park near Toronto, and the Xfinity and Cup series events which were to have been held in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Those events were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The truck series race from Daytona is scheduled to be televised at noon Sunday, Aug. 16, on Fox Sports 1.

Maurice Petty dies at 81

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Maurice Petty, part of a stock car racing dynasty that includes father Lee and brother Richard and the first engine builder to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, died Saturday, July 25. He was 81.

While other family members were acclaimed for their ability behind the wheel, Maurice Petty earned the nickname “The Chief” for his ability to turn a wrench. He helped his family win 198 races and seven championships in NASCAR’s premier series, and he also built engines that carried Hall of Famer Buddy Baker, Jim Paschal and Pete Hamilton to victory.

Petty was born March 27, 1939, in Level Cross, N.C. He would tail his father to the track while growing up, and his mechanical know-how soon played an integral part in Lee Petty winning 54 races and three championships.

He made 26 starts in the NASCAR Cup Series from 1960-64, finishing in the top five seven times with 16 top-10 runs. But he quickly decided to focus on what happened under the hood rather than what happened behind the wheel, and that proved to be a good move for his older brother, who would rely on his engines during his period of dominance.

Richard, who would take on the nickname “The King,” won his first championship along with The Chief when he drove a Plymouth to the 1964 title. They won again in 1967, back-to-back titles in 1970 and ‘71, and added three more before the 1970s drew to an end.

Lee Petty died in 2000 and Maurice Petty’s wife of 52 years, Patricia, died in 2014.

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