WEEDSPORT, N.Y. – Justin Stone watched the Super DIRTcar Series from the grandstands as a kid. This season, however, kids will watch him as he begins his first full-time season on tour.
The Middlebury, Vt., driver has signed on as the fourth Super DIRTcar Series rookie-of-the-year contender, joining Matt Caprara, Alex Payne, and Mike Trautschold.
Like the other three, Stone spent last season gaining experience. He raced an entire season at Albany-Saratoga (N.Y.) Speedway weekly in his big block modified. Stone also made five Super DIRTcar starts during the points season — including his first start during Super DIRT Week at Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway.
Stone said his experience racing against the best big block modified drivers in the country fuels him for what’s to come.
“I think it’s a good challenge,” Stone said. “You’re racing with the best of the best, and you can learn a lot with the people you surround yourself with. If you’re surrounding yourself with the best, you’re going to pick up on things, and you’re going to dig deeper because you’re going to get your butt kicked every week.”
Stone’s will to dig deeper comes from the support system he has at every race. Stone is a third-generation driver, following in the footsteps of his dad Todd, who’s raced on dirt and asphalt, and his grandfather Gardner, who raced primarily on the CVRA circuit, including at Albany-Saratoga and Vermont’s Devil’s Bowl Speedway.
With Todd’s asphalt experience, the Stone family has traveled to different tracks for years, including with the Super DIRTcar Series. That challenge of racing at a variety of tracks is something Justin embraces.
“It’s a challenge every time you go to a different place. And even when you return,” Justin Stone said. “I think that’s the draw of the Super DIRTcar Series. That you go to so many different places and so many different surfaces.
“If you want to build yourself to be a force to be reckoned with, you’ve got to be able to beat the best.”
While the battle for rookie of the year doesn’t start until the championship season begins at New Egypt Speedway on March 30, Stone is getting his No. 15x ready for Florida.
He’s one of the drivers who will hunt for a gator trophy when the Super DIRTcar Series kicks off the year at Volusia Speedway Park during the Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 14-17.
Stone found success in his first trip to the half-mile dirt oval last season, making all three features and earning a redraw spot in Saturday’s finale.
But even with that success, he’s looking forward to having fun and taking a break from his job at G. Stone Motors, the family-owned Ford dealership in Middlebury where the 27-year-old works as a Sales and Leasing Consultant.
“I really like Volusia,” Stone said. “It’s fast, and it’s a lot of fun. And it’s a fun week to get out of the dealership for a little while to get into some warmer weather.”
From a kid in the grandstands to his rookie year with the Super DIRTcar Series, Justin Stone is taking his new challenge head-on, knowing what it takes to grow each season.
“Last year, at the beginning of the year, I struggled,” Stone said. “I had a really tough go at the beginning of the year. I think the successful one for me would be to qualify on a weekly basis and not have to use provisionals. The best-case scenario is I won’t use one, but who knows?
"I’m looking forward to learning and building a notebook. We just need to get better and be more consistent. Consistency brings the progress.”
Stone and the Super DIRTcar Series kicks off the season at Volusia during the Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 14-17. Race coverage can be streamed each night through DIRTvision.
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