Windom's Early Season Continues With Three Straight Sprint Car Races After Wild Weather Woes Cancel Midget Car Event In Texas - Sprint Car testing on Winchester's high banks thrown in for good measure - (INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- April 10, 2007) --...
Windom's Early Season Continues With Three Straight Sprint Car Races After Wild Weather Woes Cancel Midget Car Event In Texas - Sprint Car testing on Winchester's high banks thrown in for good measure -
(INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- April 10, 2007) -- Chris Windom - a 16-year-old phenom, and one of the hottest race car drivers in short-track racing today -- heads into one of his busiest single weekends of the season with four on-track events scheduled in four days. The Windom Racing Team has a heavy testing schedule in place in order to be as competitive as they can in the 75+ races on their schedule, and they head to Winchester (IN) Speedway on Thursday for some laps at speed before attacking the track later in the month for a USAC show. Friday sees Chris at the well-promoted Gas City (IN) / I-69 Speedway for his first (of many) appearance at their weekly track shows. The weekend then kicks into high gear with the season-opening race of the USAC National Sprint Car tour at Twin Cities Raceway Park in North Vernon, Ind., continuing on Sunday at the world's fastest high-banked quarter-mile oval at Anderson (IN) Speedway, where the prestigious "Glen Niebel Classic" will bring 100 laps of pure, dizzying excitement to short-track fans in central Indiana.
The team just arrived home from a grueling weekend of travel to Kyle, Texas, for the first USAC National Midget Series event of the year at Thunder Hill Raceway, in what should have been Chris's first full midget start on pavement. Chris has had plenty of previous pavement experience, as he was the 2006 USAC Pavement Kenyon Midget Series Champion. However, this was a pivotal weekend for his whole team to prove that he can possibly be a "Rookie of the Year" contender in dual USAC National divisions in 2007, only the second driver to accomplish that feat in the same year (Darren Hagan was the first in 2005). They never got the chance, as the race was cancelled after a Friday practice session due to unusually cold and rainy weather.
"It was disappointing that we couldn't race in Texas, but that's part of racing as much as we do -- there will be delays and cancellations, so we just had to pack up and move on to the next show," Chris said of the trip. "We practiced our Midget car there on pavement for the first time, and I felt pretty good about our progress. There really weren't a lot of surprises. The full Midget handles like the Kenyon car I raced last year, just with more power and more weight. But everything went well and I think, based on what we now know, that we'll have a pretty good year in the USAC Midget Car Series."
Chris, who plans a full schedule of racing this year in both the USAC National Sprint and Midget Car Series', as well as racing locally in Indiana when his schedule allows, has already had a busy year of racing early in the 2007 season. That continues with a Thursday test at Winchester Speedway, the eastern Indiana facility famous for its treacherous high banks.
"I've heard Winchester Speedway is amazingly fast, and a track that you have to respect, just like Eldora Speedway," Chris explained of his upcoming test at one of the fastest quarter-mile tracks in the world. "There's really no good way to prepare for a place that's got such a big reputation -- I'll just try to take it easy and get used to it at first and, hopefully, that will allow my confidence to build so that we can start running competitive laps soon after we get there. I usually try to get on the Internet and research a track that I've never raced on first, and also try to talk to a lot of people who have experience at that track in order to prepare myself for what to expect. I'm also lucky in that Brian Cripe, my team manager and crew chief and one of the most experienced Sprint car mechanics in Indiana, has been able to give me a lot of information about what racing at these tracks will be like. That's been invaluable to me in preparing for the huge schedule we'll be running this year."
After Thursday's adventures on Winchester's pavement, the team heads to the quarter-mile Gas City/I-69 Speedway, one of the best and well-respected dirt facilities in Indiana, for a Friday night regular track event.
"The more seat time a young driver can get, the better," Chris stated. "It's only going to help me progress and grow. That is why we are trying to run as many local track events in Indiana as we can. This week, we're going to run Gas City on Friday, then the two USAC shows Saturday and Sunday. When time allows, we'll be in Gas City each Friday, then run Kokomo (IN) Speedway on Sunday's if there's not another USAC race. We're basically hoping to run at least three races a weekend. We're even going to try to run some CRA Sprint car shows out west throughout the year. That's a lot of laps, and that's hopefully going to give me the experience I need to win races and championships. Starting our season at the Chili Bowl in January, and running a lot of early-season races leading into the regular Midwest season, is also helping me to start the USAC season strong instead of just trying to shake off the rust in April. Hopefully that will give me an advantage in the beginning over the rest of the guys."
With engines producing upwards of 800 horsepower, the USAC National Sprint Car Series rocket ships combine the thrill of raw power with the heart-stopping action of non-wing Sprint car racing. Dirt rooster tails, wheel stands and three-wide racing are the norm when these bad boys come to town. Sprint cars also run on paved tracks, and any driver with aspirations of a championship must be able to negotiate both dirt and pavement.
"Obviously, we haven't even run our first USAC National Sprint Car race yet, so we can't predict what will happen," Chris said of his 2007 aspirations. "But our goals have never been to just get experience -- we've run a lot of dirt Sprint cars in the past. Our realistic goals this year are to finish in the top five each race in both the USAC National Sprint and Midget divisions, win our share of races, and hopefully contend for a championship in each series. I lack experience on pavement in the Sprint cars, and that's important for our ultimate goal of running stock card, but I feel with the testing we are doing, that I'll be competitive on both surfaces. We added one of the top pavement Sprint car mechanics in the country, Jack French, to our program this year, so that will be a big help -- I should be up to speed pretty quickly. I'm really looking forward to both of the races in North Vernon (Saturday) and Anderson (Sunday) because the dirt at Twin Cities will feel comfortable for me, and we also tested a few weeks ago on the pavement at Anderson, and that test went really well for us. So we should have a good weekend."
Dave Darland, the defending "Niebel" champion, owns the one-lap track qualifying record at both Twin Cities and Anderson. Drivers will aim for his 13.817 seconds record at North Vernon Saturday, then gun for his 11.360 record at Anderson Sunday.