By Jonathon Masters
The 43rd edition of Winter Nationals at East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, FL, is slated to kick off a week of UMP Modified racing on Wednesday night.
The modifieds are one of the fastest-growing Winter Nationals divisions among both fans and drivers alike at the historic event, and to get you ready for this year’s action, we’ve put together a top 10 list of things to watch for during modified week.
Watch the 2018 East Bay Winter Nationals LIVE on FloRacing
10) First-Time Winter Nationals Racers: Going to East Bay for the Winter Nationals is something that many regional races dream of each year. While not every racer will make it there during their career, the ones that do often end up being repeat competitors. Seeing new drivers from different areas is always a great component to the Winter Nationals. It is also interesting to see how a new driver adapts to the often challenging surface of the Clay by the Bay.
9) Familiar Drivers In New Rides: Sometimes drivers will compete at the Winter Nationals in cars that are not their normal weekly rides. This year, former UMP champion Devin Gilpin is doing a ride swap for Winter Nationals to drive for the Loud-n-Loose Racing stable. You can also expect to see drivers in new full-time rides. It is always interesting to see what silly season ends up bringing to Florida.
8) The Track Surface: Both modified drivers and those racing in other divisions will be keeping an eye on the track surface conditions at Winter Nationals this week. The modifieds are going into the week blind, with their first glimpse of the surface being Tuesday’s practice night. As with every year, the track will be in constant flux. But after a hurricane storm surge in 2017 and cold conditions earlier in the winter, it is anyone’s guess what kind of surface the track will throw at the drivers this year.
7) The Northern Invaders: Last year, Buzzy Adams came from Wisconsin to visit Victory Lane at East Bay Raceway Park. You can expect him back in 2018 with fellow Northern drivers such as Lucas Wehmiller and Gilpin. Can the Northern drivers win out over more regional drivers such as Jeff Mathews? You’ll have to watch FloRacing’s flag-to-flag coverage of the 2018 Winter Nationals to find out!
6) The Toll Of The Week: We’ve talked about how the East Bay Winter Nationals is an endurance competition. By the time the finale races get underway, many of the teams in attendance are running on fumes. Some might have had to replace every piece of aluminum, every suspension component, and sometimes even an engine. How will this factor into the week and who will be able to overcome to adversity and excel during one of the toughest stops of the season?
Check back tomorrow for the completion of this list and the top five things to watch for during this week’s modified racing at Winter Nationals.