Eyeing Eagle: Rookies Henderson, Martin Seek Success at Eagle Nationals Eagle, NE -- June 7, 2006 -- Justin Henderson and Jason Martin have had June 9 and June 10 circled on their calendars since the beginning of the season. The two ...
Eyeing Eagle: Rookies Henderson, Martin Seek Success at Eagle Nationals
Eagle, NE -- June 7, 2006 -- Justin Henderson and Jason Martin have had June 9 and June 10 circled on their calendars since the beginning of the season. The two freshmen drivers on the World of Outlaws circuit have gained vast amounts of experience so far this season, racing at tracks they are visiting for the first time, and being on the road. After an intense Eastern swing, the Mean 15 rookies are ready to head back to the Heartland and pay a visit to a track they know very well.
This weekend, the pair will return to Eagle Raceway in Eagle, Nebraska where each has turned plenty of laps and has great amounts of success. The Eagle Nationals begin another busy stretch of racing for the Mean 15, and the two contenders for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Maxim Racing and Butlerbuilt.
The Eagle Nationals are always one of the most competitive weekends of the season, as the World of Outlaws will do battle for a full two nights on what is always a fast and racy track. Current point leader Donny Schatz has won at the track twice, as has veteran Jac Haudenschild, who is third in the standings. Schatz who has won five races this year, is two-for-two on 1/3-mile tracks (I-55 Raceway and Grandview Speedway), and looks to stay unbeaten at Eagle, on another 1/3 mile.
Henderson raced a full season at the high-banked oval, located just east of the state capital, in a 360-car. He also has raced at Eagle in a 410 sprint car with his current team, including during last years Eagle Nationals. Martin also has plenty of laps at the track in a 360 car, and is looking forward to touring the tight track in an even higher powered machine as he battles the best of the best when the World of Outlaws thunder into town.
Henderson aboard the Jolt Energy Gum/Race Girl Schnee powered by Hollywood Racing Engines, is currently 9th in points, as he gears up for the Eagle Nationals. Martin in the NOS Energy Drink/Mafia Motorsports Maxim, missed the first two plus months of the season with a neck injury, and is quickly finding his rhythm as he came home a season best eighth last week at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in New York.
"We raced a full season there 360 car there and had a lot of fun with that," said Henderson of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. "I learned a lot about the track in the process. Hopefully we can put a little bit of that to use in terms of my driving style. I always enjoy going back there."
Martin certainly is making up for the time he spent recuperating earlier this season, as he takes full advantage of every lap he gets in the car at every track the series visits. He also picks the brains of many of the veteran drivers when he has a question about a set-up or about a certain type of track.
"We've run well at the tracks I haven't been to," said Martin. "I am really looking forward to going back to a place we have some experience at. We know what to do over there."
Henderson has been on a string of strong qualifying runs, including his first quick time award with the Outlaws that he set at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway, besting a stout field of 51 cars. The success of qualifying the car at the front of the pack and strong showings in heat races and dashes has produced four top-10 finishes for the always affable and well spoken driver.
"That's due largely in part to the motors my dad builds," said Henderson. "Quick time is a lot of motor and not a lot of driver. He gets the car close for me right out of the chute. If we can keep that up, we'll be good at Eagle."
Henderson and the rest of the Mean 15 have been racing on wide and fast 5/8 and half-mile tracks this past week, and he knows it will take a couple of laps to get acclimated with the tighter Eagle Raceway.
"The way our car has been most of the season, we'll change it up a little bit going to Eagle," said Henderson. "We should be fast right out of the box."
Martin not only looks forward to Eagle because of the laps he has at the track, but also it is one of the closest stops all season long for he and his team, which are based in Liberal, Kansas. After being on the road for most of the last four months, Martin will be able to spend a few days sleeping in his own bed.
"We're going to go back home and restock and regroup, and get ready to hit the road again," said Martin. "It will be nice to work out of our own shop for a few days."