Henderson Looks to Build on Solid Finish from Last Season at Orange County Justin Henderson had raced on a couple big tracks prior to taking to the road with the World of Outlaws full-time last season. After all he had been a weekly competitor...
Henderson Looks to Build on Solid Finish from Last Season at Orange County
Justin Henderson had raced on a couple big tracks prior to taking to the road with the World of Outlaws full-time last season. After all he had been a weekly competitor at the famed Knoxville Raceway for a couple of seasons, but he had never raced on a track quite like the sprawling 5/8-mile Orange County Fair Speedway in New York.
On Saturday, May 20 he will look to build upon the success he had at the largest track on the World of Outlaws schedule, where he finished ninth last season in the A-Feature after turning in the eighth quickest lap in time trials in his first visit to the track.
"The first time I turned a lap there I got down the backstretch and was wondering when the corner was going to come, and eventually it was there," said Henderson, driver of the Jolt Energy Gum Rocket. "There is a lot of speed we carry over there, and it's a flat track so there is a lot of control that goes with it."
Henderson quickly took a liking to Orange County Fair Speedway last season, as well as the annual East Coast swing that the World of Outlaws embark on each May. He visited a number of tracks for the first time and continued to gain experience en route to a second-place finish in the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year battle and an eighth-place finish in the overall championship standings. Despite only receiving a couple of warm-up laps last season at Orange County, Henderson and his team led by his crew chief/father Rod Henderson were consistently turning laps near the top of the speed charts.
"We went there and we were really fast right out of the box, and it kind of fit our program," said the native of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. "We'll try to do it again this year. We love to go to Orange County. It's definitely a fast race track and a fun place to race at."
With the weather warming up and the World of Outlaws schedule picking up, this is the time of year that Henderson enjoys most. When the World of Outlaws arrive at Orange County Fair Speedway on Saturday, May 20, they will be in the fourth race of stretch that will see them race five times in a six day period at four different track in three states. That busy stretch will continue with a number of mid-week shows as the summer rolls around.
"I love to race, and if it was up to me I would race seven days a week, though my crew probably wouldn't like that," joked Henderson. "I would much rather be driving every single day because that is what I do and that is what I love to do. For me it is more fun when we can race every other day."
In addition to traveling to the nearly 90 races this season with his father and crew member Chris Timmerman, Henderson also is joined by his wife Heather on the road. She is a member of the Air National Guard and last season served a tour of duty in Iraq, thus not making it to too many events. This season she assists with the DIRTVision Cybercasts and DIRT Radio Network broadcasts, serving as a roving reporter and helping entertain the crowd during down time in the racing program.
"It definitely helps our relationship having her out here," he admitted. "She keeps away from our racing stuff, but she does lend a hand when she can."
For the second straight season, Henderson's team is led by his father and crew chief Rod, with the help of Timmerman. Last season the team showed how strong they were in the pit area, when they won the final round of the World of Outlaws pit crew challenge, which consisted of a full engine change. The team completed that task in just over six and a half minutes. Ironically, all of last season they never had to change an engine on a race night. They finished second in the overall standings for the pit crew challenge in 2006 just four seconds off the pace. Rod Henderson again this season is building the engines for the team, which always prove reliable. In addition to all the other roles he serves in making sure the car is maintained and the team makes it from race to race.
"My dad is very important to this team," stated Henderson, the 2002 Huset's Speedway 410-sprint car track champion. "He builds the motors and he is the crew chief on the car. Sometimes he can get stretched a little thin and that can hurt the team in the long run. We'd like to find him a little help if we could, but right now he kind of oversees everything."
With the level of competition at an all time high with 27 drivers following the World of Outlaws full-time this season, Henderson is focused at all times when he is at the track, especially when he is in the race car. He enters the event at Orange County Fair Speedway with five Top-10 finishes on the season, including a season-best performance of fourth at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California in his first ever weekend at the 1/3-mile track. He also led the first 14 laps of the A-Feature at Manzanita Speedway in Arizona earlier this season, as he continues to close in on his first World of Outlaws win.
"Confidence is the biggest thing out here," explained the second-year driver. "When you have your confidence up where it should be, it doesn't matter what happens. It doesn't matter where you start. It doesn't matter where you time (in qualifying). You can always finish toward the front and that makes it fun."
On Saturday, May 19 at Orange County Fair Speedway, adult reserved tickets will be $35, while reserved tickets for children (10-13 years of age) will be $10. Adult general admission tickets will be $30, while children 9-under will be admitted free of charge in the general admission seats. For more information call the track at: 845-342-2573.