Story By: JOE GRABIANOWSKI / DIRTCAR – WEEDSPORT, NY – The DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship saw one driver conquer 2020 better than any other — Kevin Root.
Root’s first Hoosier championship was powered by 12 victories at four different DIRTcar racetracks.
“For the weird year it was, we were able to do a lot of racing,” Root said. “We just had to travel a little more. We went to some different tracks, like Can-Am Speedway where I have a knack for getting around. I’ve always liked the place.
“We always run well at Land of Legends. I just did the same things I would do normally. No matter where you are running you never come off your game plan and we just went and raced where we could. Hats off to the promoters and tracks that allowed us to race a little bit this year and we were able to be successful in doing it.”
Last year, the Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship showed its strength by supporting the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified division with an expanded and ensured point fund at a time when the season’s outlook was grim. Track after track began adding weekly shows and the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series: Central Region completed their schedule with some of the best Sportsman racing in the Northeast.
Root and his formidable #34 made 24 DIRTcar Sportsman Modified starts in 2020 and went home with 12 victories. That winning percentage and Root’s excellence helped propel him to the Hoosier championship and a runner-up in the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series: Central Region points.
Root has been racing at the top of his game for years. He’s piled up win after win across New York and is noted as a smooth, clean racer who knows his way around a race car.
It isn’t just what he does on track that gets the job done either.
“I’ve had the same attitude towards preparation that I’ve always had,” Root explained. “I had a little more help in the shop this year and we changed our setup package from torsion bars to coils. I was able to focus on the stuff I haven’t been able to do in the past like working on tires.”
That extra attention to detail was absolutely necessary with the miles Root put on the hauler this year, picking up victories at Land of Legends Raceway, Can-Am Speedway, Utica-Rome Speedway and Weedsport Speedway.
While he’s living the dream and planning on making the move to DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds, Root has a lot of knowledge and experience to impart on the huge number of young drivers entering and succeeding in DIRTcar Sportsman Modified division.
“The biggest thing with all the young guys is that you have to learn to work on your own stuff,” Root said. “That’s the bottom line. You’re not going to know your own race cars if you don’t work on them. Hard work has finally paid off for me. The last couple of years we’ve raced we’ve been really good. It’s not just driving, it’s preparing the race car and surrounding yourself with the right people and to learn from them like I did with Scott Jefferies, Vinney Salerno, and watching drivers like Billy Decker, Larry Wight, Matt Sheppard, Brett Hearn, and all those guys.”
It’s not always easy or even fun but for Root, hard work and perseverance have been the way to go.
“Being a youngster you gotta be able to take some lumps and pick yourself up and go back out there,” Root noted. “Move on to the next race. It’s not easy to put a mistake in the back of your mind but you gotta do it. Race clean with everybody. When you don’t tear your stuff up you finish races.”
Root’s swan song in a DIRTcar Sportsman Modified will be Jan. 28-30 at Lake View Motor Speedway in South Carolina where the Sportsman are set to race for impressive purses and bonuses.
“It’s a great purse for two nights of racing,” said Root of the southbound swing. “We’ll do a little bit of testing on the Thursday night before. It looks like there will be some good competition down there knowing the guys that are going. I just want to get down there. It’ll probably be my last race in a Sportsman with the move up to Big Blocks.”
It won’t be all fun and games as Root plans to thoroughly shake down a new car for a new driver.
“I just bought a new Bicknell frame for my car and a motor from Brian Donath,” he said. “We’ll go down and hopefully keep up the momentum we had last year. It’ll be good to make sure everything stays together on the new car.”
But that’s not all.
“When I am done racing it, I am putting Mark Yorker in it for the 2021 season,” he added. “He’s going to take over the reins for me in the Sportsman car.”
At the end of 2020, Root hooked up with legendary car owner Vinny Salerno, who fields the recognizable #4* DIRTcar Big Block Modified. Fans will remember the success Tim McCreadie had behind the wheel of “the four-star car” as many refer to it.
The team has ambitious plans for 2021.
“We are finalizing our plans to go to Bristol,” Root revealed. “Vinny is very open-minded. He’s a great car owner to start with. He’s given me quite a range of options. If we can afford it, we’ll go race it. We are going to start out at the Series race at Can-Am. Then we’ll go to Bristol for the two Series races (April 22-24). After that, we’ll try to run as much of the Series as we can.”
Running a Big Block against the best drivers in the Northeast has been a dream of Root’s for a long time. According to him, he’s ready.
“I’ll also run Brewerton Speedway Friday nights,” Root said. “That will be huge for me. That’s the place to race and get laps against some of the best drivers at one of the best tracks around. Then we’ll get to run the Small Block and DIRTcar Big Block at Orange County on Saturdays.”
After a stellar 2020 season, fans are eager to watch the elite DIRTcar Sportsman Modified driver step into the Big Block ring.