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Local race car drivers already gearing up for 2013 season

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The auto racing season really never ends. Many of the north country drivers are already making plans for next season by building or refurbishing their race cars for the 2013 season.

One Watertown native said this week that in less than 90 days the NASCAR season will begin with the Daytona 500 in February. Two World of Outlaw late-model drivers from the north country have even less time in preparing for races shortly after the holidays.

Matt Puccia is the crew chief for NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Greg Biffle. The 2013 season started shortly after the final race of the 2012 season earlier this month as race teams prepare their new cars.

Biffle finished fifth in the final point standings, and Puccia said the season had its high and low points.

“It didn’t end like we had hoped for,’’ Puccia said from his home in the Charlotte, N.C., area. “We didn’t get off to a good start in the final 10 races of the season.’’

When Sprint Cup fans tune into 2013, they will see a different style race car on the track.

“There will be lots of changes to the chassis (body) of the car,’’ Puccia said. “It will look more like the cars that people are driving.’’

Popular Mechanics magazine noted recently that the 2013 designs should make the on-track action more relatable to fans when the season begins. The article noted that the cars will have only 10 body panels in common. It will also usher in four new race cars in the field that will include the Chevrolet SS, Dodge Charger, Ford Fusion and the Toyota Camry.

Puccia notes that they will be testing their cars soon at Daytona and in Charlotte. There will also be several NASCAR race-car display shows that Puccia will be attending.

Edwards native Tim Fuller finished ninth in the late-model point standings in 2012. That may not sound that impressive, but Fuller struggled early and quit the tour twice until he found a ride with car owner John Kennedy of Arizona. Fuller had been trying to maintain his own World of Outlaws race team.

Fuller finished with 13 top-10 finishes in the late-model division, earning more than $84,000 for his team.

He will also race several big-block and small-block DIRTcar modified races in 2013. He won a prestigious race at The DIRT Track in Charlotte last season.

“We aren’t sure just where we will be racing the modifieds as the schedule hasn’t come out yet,’’ Fuller said.

As far as the late-model race program goes, Fuller said he will probably be racing early in 2013.

“We will probably be competing in some late-model races in Arizona after the holidays,’’ Fuller said. “We are getting the two cars we will be driving on the late-model tour ready for 2013.’’

Watertown native Tim McCreadie was in Tennessee this week looking over the Warrior race cars he will be driving next season on the late-model tour. While he will still be sponsored by the Sweeteners Plus Racing team, he forged a partnership in 2012 with Sanford Goddard’s Knoxville, Tenn.-based Warrior Chassis.

McCreadie finished fourth in the final World of Outlaws late-model points in 2012, earning more than $165,000 for his team. He also had 23 top-10 finishes and won three tour features.

“We still need to be more consistent on the tour,” McCreadie said. “We had streaks when we raced pretty good and other times we weren’t too good.’’

McCreadie also plans to compete in a number of modified races in 2013. McCreadie tasted victory in the small-block modified championship race at Syracuse in October during Super DIRT Week.

McCreadie is confident he will be competing in the Chili Bowl at Tulsa, Okla., in January. After winning the 2006 race, he suffered a severe back injury three years later.

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