Third–generation driver Justin Stone is taking a journey into Big Block Modified racing step by step with Super DIRTcar Series races and first attempt at running the Billy Whittaker Cars 200
When Justin Stone’s father told him he was getting a car one summer, the young college student never realized the journey it would take him on.
It wasn’t a typical college student starter car. It was a dirt Sportsman. And more than that, it was the entry point to his current quest of trying to build a Big Block Modified career.
Racing was already in his blood with his father and grandfather having raced a variety of cars, including Modifieds. So, after a few laps in his new Sportsman, it was an easy decision to shift his focus from college lacrosse to joining the family tradition.
“It was nothing like I had ever experienced before,” Stone said. “You can ask anyone else who races. The first time you get in you kind of get hooked. Either you’re hooked, or you’re not. I was hooked.”
Stone started racing in 2019 at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, NY. Two years later, he jumped up to a Small Block Modified, expanding his experience to tracks like Vermont’s Devil’s Bowl Speedway and Mohawk Raceway.
After having a difficult time finding tracks that ran Small Blocks weekly near their Middlebury, VT home, his father had the perfect remedy.
“My father decided I should jump in and go Big Block racing and there’s only one way to learn,” Stone said. “It’s just to jump in and get thrown to the wolves.”
Initially, he intended to jump into a full season with the Super DIRTcar Series in 2023. But after a conversation with Series Director Dean Reynolds, he decided it would be best to run a handful of Series first to build his resume.
He accepted the challenge and got to work with his G. Stone Motors #15X Big Block Modified. Stone made the trip down to Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park in February for the Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals. He made all three races and earned a career-best 11th-place finish on the final night.
“I had never been in a Big Block before,” Stone said. “I had never even practiced with one. I got thrown into the race down at Volusia (Speedway Park) and had some early success for never being in one. I won a Heat Race, I made all the races, but I blew up a motor down there. I’ve had a lot of highs and lows.”
Stone continued to work at his new craft, learning as much as he could as each race progressed.
“(Big Blocks) are a totally different animal,” Stone said. “I’ve just been trying to adapt to that and learn from that. Learn about it, and learn how to drive it, and try to get better with it.”
He’s seen some success come from his efforts, running in fifth with 15 remaining laps in the Massive Malta Weekend Feature at Albany-Saratoga Speedway before being forced to exit the track due to a blown motor. Earlier that night, he had also won his second Series Heat race of the season.
“It’s a confidence booster,” Stone said. “Sometimes, when you are struggling, you ask yourself, can I still do this? Is it me, or what’s going on? When you finally get yourself and the combination right, and you can do something like that, you take everyone you can get.”
The biggest moment of his season may still be on the horizon. Stone is set to make the trip to Oswego, NY for Super DIRT Week 51 (Oct. 2-8), looking to make his first appearance in the prestigious Billy Whittaker Cars 200. He’ll also bring his Small Block to try and make the DIRTcar 358 Modified Salute to the Troops 150.
Stone’s goals for the week are to qualify for both Features and finish both races. But regardless of the outcomes, he plans on following the advice his grandfather gave him: “You have to keep yourself positive, keep yourself up and going. You’ll have your turn…you’re earning your stripes.”
UP NEXT: The Super DIRTcar Series heads to Oswego Speedway in Oswego, NY, for Super DIRT Week 51, Oct. 2-8. For tickets to Super DIRT Week 51 and the event’s full schedule, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to Oswego Speedway, you can watch every lap of Super DIRT Week live on DIRTVision.