Henderson Finishes a Career-Best Fourth at Thunderbowl Tulare, CA--Feb. 24, 2007 -- Justin Henderson had never seen Thunderbowl Raceway until Friday afternoon. He never even got to turn a lap at speed on the racy 1/3-mile due to a problem with...
Henderson Finishes a Career-Best Fourth at Thunderbowl
Tulare, CA--Feb. 24, 2007 -- Justin Henderson had never seen Thunderbowl Raceway until Friday afternoon. He never even got to turn a lap at speed on the racy 1/3-mile due to a problem with the power steering line that struck right when the green flag dropped for hot laps. None of that seemed to matter as the native of Sioux Falls, South Dakota picked up two Top-10 finishes, including a career best fourth-place effort on Saturday night in the first of two visits this season to the track for the World of Outlaws.
Henderson was able to use his experience at his home track to help adapt to the high banks at Thunderbowl. He also received some advice on how to attack the track from veteran driver Craig Dollansky, as well as California native and Saturday night's winner Tim Kaeding.
"This place is a little bit like my home town track, Huset's Speedway in South Dakota," said Henderson, driver of the Dan Dan the Sonic Man/Jolt Energy Gum Rocket. "This place is very similar to that in the fact that you need to just kind of rip the lip as you come in. That is what (Craig) Dollansky told me earlier tonight, to rip that lip as hard as you can and ride the rest of the way around there. We adapted to that pretty quick and we were able to qualify good enough to start in the front row of the heat race."
With 40-plus cars signed into the pits each of the two nights, Henderson was facing stiff competition every time he took to the track. He won a heat race on Saturday night to qualify for the dash, where he came home fifth to earn the same starting spot in the 40-lap A-Feature. On Friday night, he also qualified for the dash, and came home a very solid eighth. He now has three Top-10 finishes on the year.
"There's a lot of talent out here in California," he commented. "Even when you start at the front of a heat race, you have to run good to stay up there."
Henderson, who finished eighth in World of Outlaws championship standings last season was very confident entering 2007, due to a chance in chassis and some other changes the team made in the off-season. After an eight-place run to open the season in the Florida DIRTcar Nationals at the spacious and fast Volusia Speedway Park, he ran into some bad luck the next two nights, before getting back on track this weekend.
"We switched to Rocket Chassis, which have been phenomenal for us so far, and switched to Penske Shocks which have also been good for us," he explained. "We did mostly a lot of testing down there in Florida and on-the-job training so to speak. Now we are good and we have a good handle on our package."
Henderson looks to keep the momentum going next weekend as the World of Outlaws head to the Arizona desert for a pair of races. On Friday March 2, they invade USA Race Park in Tucson, and Manzanita Speedway the following day. The always optimistic driver visited both of those tracks for the first time last March and also returned to them in October, so he has a good baseline to go off.
"I'm a fan of Tucson (USA Race Park)," Henderson said. "We finished sixth there in the spring last year. We know that place and we can get around that place. I am very confident right now in my crew and in my crew chief and my motors. We're just going to go out there and try to kick some butt and take some names every night."