Windom Heads To Wisconsin For USAC and Badger Midget Series Events; Fast ORP Test Gives Team Momentum Leading Into Heart Of Schedule (INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - May 31, 2007): 16-year-old Chris Windom, of Canton, Ill., one of USAC's youngest and most...
Windom Heads To Wisconsin For USAC and Badger Midget Series Events; Fast ORP Test Gives Team Momentum Leading Into Heart Of Schedule
(INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - May 31, 2007): 16-year-old Chris Windom, of Canton, Ill., one of USAC's youngest and most aggressive talents, is in the thick of a huge 2007 schedule, having just completed five races in six days with a lot of progress made for the Windom Motorsports Team.
Windom is competing full-time in the USAC National Sprint and Midget Car Series divisions in 2007, while fitting in any other Sprint or Midget car races in Indiana that don't conflict with the USAC National schedules.
The headliner for the upcoming weekend is the Friday night "Thiel Memorial Classic," the initial appearance for USAC National Midgets (co-sanctioned with the Badger Midget Series) at the Dodge County Fairgrounds Speedway in Beaver Dam, Wis. The Windom Motorsports Team will stay in the area and head just down the road in Beaver Dam to the spectacular Charter Raceway Park for a Saturday Badger Midget Series event, remarkable in that the main building at that facility was burned down just a few weeks ago.
As the WMS team has a lengthy trip to Eastern Pennsylvania and Maryland the following week, they will most likely head back to Kokomo (IN) Speedway for a Sunday evening Sprint show in order to be closer to their team shop in nearby Frankfort, Ind., which will allow more time to prepare for a Tuesday departure for their Eastern USAC National Sprint Car Series swing.
"The Badger guys are some of the toughest competitors in the country," Windom said of the competition within the Badger series. Windom started 23rd and finished 7th in this year's 'Chili Bowl Midget Nationals' against the "best of the best" that Badger has to offer. "I've been running each week with USAC's top drivers and, despite our mechanical issues, I've not done too bad against them. I am really looking forward to this weekend and to running our dirt Midget up in Wisconsin. There are a lot of good cars and drivers who will be there, and it will be tough to do well there, let alone get a win. But I'm ready for it--ready for a really good weekend.
"Although I'd love to stay in Wisconsin and go to the Badger show at Angell Park Speedway on Sunday, we'll probably head back to Indiana and the normal Sunday Sprint race at Kokomo Speedway," Windom said of his weekend plans. "I'd love the opportunity to race in Sun Prairie, as I know that it's one of the best tracks in the country, with extremely good competition. However, the logistics of traveling to Eastern Pennsylvania and Maryland next week make it important for us to be rested and ready for that long trip. We'll definitely try to race at Angell Park this summer sometime, though."
Consistent mechanical bad luck has kept Windom from reaching his full potential early in the season, but things are looking up after a Wednesday Sprint car test at O'Reilly Raceway Park (ORP), where Windom was reportedly among the fastest drivers on track despite USAC point leaders and future NASCAR stars competing for that same honor. USAC has a Sprint/Midget doubleheader planned for that facility on Saturday, June 16th.
"We did what we set out to do -- to set competitive times at ORP," Windom explained. "We did that, and I think more. We ran, in some cases, faster than some USAC points leaders and guys who have been tapped to go to NASCAR, so I think we'll be okay during our race in June. We also worked out some issues with our pavement Midget which we needed to do before the next ORP race. I really think we'll go into the next ORP race well prepared."
Windom is looking forward to a long weekend in Wisconsin for the tough competition it brings, but also for a chance to turn his season around after a nasty string of bad luck that has plagued his Windom Motorsports team from every angle and with every car he runs. Bad draws, mechanical issues and being placed in the wrong place at the wrong time have been the norm for Windom during the early part of the season.
The frustration level for this young driver has tested he and his team in many ways, but he has shown patience and maturity beyond his years in dealing with the unfortunate circumstances. This is not a normal, temperamental 16-year-old race car driver, prone to outbursts when things don't go his way. Windom understands the business of racing, and the steps it takes to build a race- and championship-winning team.
"The problems we've been having with all of our cars have been incredibly frustrating, but I'm just trying to do the best I can," Windom stated. "We have all new motors this year, which has been a bit of a challenge as we work out what each motor needs. Once we get it figured out, I'm sure it we'll be good, fast and -- hopefully -- win our share of races.
"We're just doing little things each race trying to fix the problems permanently. Right now, those problems are costing us races and good finishes, which feels horrible, but I know it's a process we have to go through to get to better things this summer. I'm frustrated--really frustrated. But I have done the best I can with what I have each week, and if you look at how my cars have been acting, the effort has been good even though the results haven't. I understand that we have good motors. I just have to deal with these frustrations the best I can until we can get these issues fixed."
To help Windom blow off steam from some early-season problems and relax a bit, and to allow the team a breather in their packed schedule, they elected to not run their regular Sprint show at Gas City (IN) I-69 Speedway last Friday night, instead allowing everyone a day off to regroup.
"My first priority on Friday morning was to sleep in, as it had been a really long and frustrating week up until that point," said Windom of his rare vacation day. "I needed that day off, though, and just tried to have a bit of fun in Indy. Some friends and I went karting, then I headed out to the Fairgrounds to see the "Hoosier 100," but it rained out. That's okay -- I got a chance to relax and just have a bit of fun, which I needed.
In between races, the USAC stars have the option of seeing "big-time racing" at its highest level while in town -- the "Indianapolis 500."
"I also got to see the first part of the "Indy 500" from the pits on Sunday before heading to Haubstadt for the MSCS Sprint race. Once I finally got to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I really had a fun time, but it was an adventure to simply get inside the track. It rained early on that morning, so I didn't leave until around 9:30 a.m. to head to the track as I didn't think anything would start happening that early, but I never anticipated it taking more than three hours to get inside. The traffic was a mess -- just stopped everywhere around the track. But once I got in, it was great. I had never been that close to the cars when the teams were working on them in the pits, or when they were doing pit stops. It was a great experience."