By KEN BRUCE
If you are taking in a race at New Egypt Speedway and are looking for a driver to put on a show, it’s always a safe bet to keep your eye on the No. 32 small-block Modified of Danny Bouc. Never one to make it look easy, the 29-year-old wheelman out of Pipersville, Pa., is a driver that will keep your interest peaked as he flies around the outside making his way to the front. With 10 career wins at the speedway (6 SB, 4 BB), Bouc is always a threat when it comes to winning at New Egypt Speedway.
For Bouc though, winning at his home track is not enough. In recent years Bouc has branched out and has tried his hand at running the Short Track Super Series South region along with selected North series races and it has paid off. Last September, at Big Diamond Speedway, Bouc won the biggest race of his career in winning the prestigious Coalcracker race beating the likes of Duane Howard, Ryan Godown and others. It was a very popular win for the young veteran Bouc.
I had a chance to sit down with Bouc last week in his shop in Pipersville as he was preparing his cars for action in this weekend’s Melvin Joseph Memorial races at the Georgetown Speedway.
DTD: What is your planned racing schedule for the upcoming season?
Danny Bouc: “We will run at New Egypt Speedway in our car and do the complete STSS South in Craig and Lesley’s (Pondish) No. 6. We are also going to try and run some of the STSS North races in the No. 6 car. I would like to run the STSS races at Orange County Speedway and also at Thunder Mountain where I seem to run good. We will also hit some of the bigger paying 358 races in our car like the Coalcracker and the Freedom 76. There are other big races we might try or run but a lot depends on how much crew help I can get.”
DTD: Speaking of winning the Coalcracker. It was definitely the feel-good story of the year for the Big Diamond fans. What did winning the Coalcracker do for you as a driver?
DB: “That was definitely big for me, but more than that it was big for my crew. It sort of validates all the hard work we put in at the shop and that night was especially gratifying after crashing the night before at New Egypt and having to get it all fixed up to even make it up there. I was close to saying forgot it because I am the type of driver that if I don’t feel the car is right and capable of winning, I’ll just stay home. But for me as a driver it was big. I always like running up at Big Diamond and the fans have always treated me great up there since day one.”
DTD: Did winning the Coalcracker boost your confidence as a driver?
DB: “I don’t know, I have always been a confident driver although it might not seem that because I can be very pessimistic at times. I am a realist and know there are a lot more down moments in racing than there are ups. It’s more a matter of just being able to run more races and even if you know you are running bad to keep going to gather some notes and lay some groundwork for the next time. Just to keep up with some of these guys that run close to 100 races a year is tough. I feel like as a driver that I’ve shown the skills to do what I am doing, I still make mistakes at times, but I just need that notebook that those other guys have to get better.”
DTD: Although winning the Coalcracker last year was obviously your biggest win. To me it was your second-place finish in the 2017 STSS “South Jersey Shootout” that put the name Danny Bouc on the map. What are your thoughts on that?
DB: “Still to this day that is one of those races that you try to have everything perfect when you get there and honestly, we just went that day to see if we had our motor right. My dad and I were having a spat back and forth about the spec motor we had in the No. 88 car, it wouldn’t run right and we took it Big Diamond two times and ended up loading it up and going home. I took off the day before, which made my dad mad, and spent the whole day working on it. I tore that whole car apart and went through it and finally got it running right and said let’s take it to Bridgeport tomorrow. We just wanted to see if it was running good. We ended up drawing a good pill and ended qualifying good in the heat. I didn’t really draw that well for the feature so we thought we would just run a few laps, take our money and go home. We ended up running in the top ten for most of the race and then on that last restart I saw everyone get bottled up on the inside and I just threw that Hail Mary on the outside, which I am known for, and before you knew it coming out of two, I was in second. Then I thought, hell I better get back down to the inside before they all go sailing past me again because we were way underpowered. So, to answer your question, yes it was definitely a key moment because I think a lot of people took notice that I could drive a car that wasn’t my own and finishing second to (Stewart) Friesen is nothing to be ashamed of. It sort of gets overshadowed now because of the winning Coalcracker last year but to me that was the key moment of my career up to now.”
DTD: How do compare Danny Bouc the driver today to Danny Bouc the driver say five years ago?
DB: “I would like to say more mature but some may think what happened the last race of year at New Egypt would argue that, but sometimes that needs to happen to get your point across. New Egypt did nothing wrong there and they ended up penalizing the driver, but I did have an epic meltdown there. It was something I needed to get off my chest. Overall, I do think I am more mature and a little smarter, especially when it comes to running at places where I haven’t run to often. I like to think I have more knowledge and with Craig’s (Pondish) stuff, better cars to be able to run up front.”
DTD: I have watched you race on the STSS South series the past two years and you have always been quick. However, the first year and to quote your self “you stepped on it” a few times. Last year I didn’t see that as much if at all. Why do you think that has happened?
DB: “I think that’s a testament to the equipment, not that the equipment I was in was bad, but Craig’s stuff is really good. It still happened a couple of times this year. I spun out at Bridgeport leading that race and I don’t like to make excuses, but it was something we were doing with the car that wasn’t mechanically correct and we tried to fix it and it didn’t work. I strive to be the best every race I go to but there are nights you make mistakes and there are nights you don’t. I feel like the more I race now the better I’ve gotten at minimizing those mistakes and having them cost you a good run. Everywhere we went with Craig’s cars last year we always seemed to qualify well which is a key in the Deyo series. Some nights that didn’t play out to a good finish in the feature, but when you race 30-40 times a year you will have a couple of those nights. Before last year, I had always run the STSS with spec engines and being underpowered you tend to push harder, but with Craig’s cars last year I didn’t have to do that because we had the power we needed.”
DTD: Where do you see yourself in five years?
DB: “I’m a big not look into the future kind of guy and like to take it week by week because you never know what can happen. I would like to be doing what I’m doing now and just race as much as possible. I am coming to a point in my life where I have to make some adult decisions and do a little grown up stuff. It’s going to come to the point soon where I am going to have to take over my dad’s business and hire some help so I can do what I need to do and so my dad can retire. The pessimist in me doesn’t see anything greater than what I am doing now happening. No NASCAR racing for me, I would like to hit some of the bigger races for the Modifieds. I guess a dream of mine would be to race for a living and run the Super DIRTcar Series, but I don’t see that kind of stuff happening.”
DTD: Who are your biggest influences in racing and what drivers do you lean on for advice?
DB: “I look up to Billy Pauch a lot. Jimmy Horton has always been a help to me especially now that I have driven for Pop Horton a couple of times. I do look up to them because they’ve been around a lot longer than me. If I have something, I’m not sure about, like last year when I started running coils for the first time, I think I spent the whole month of March on the phone with Jimmy Horton trying to pick his brain and figure things out. Rick Laubach is another driver who I lean on, especially when I am going to a track that I am not to familiar with or for the first time to get his help with the set-up and what gear to use. Billy Pauch Jr., is another one I look up to because of his experience in racing, we talk a lot and bounce ideas off each other quite often. All those guys I mentioned are a lot smarter than me when it comes to racing so I try to learn from them what I can.”
DTD: You have never been shy when it comes to speaking your mind regarding your home track of New Egypt Speedway. Last year we didn’t hear that much criticism from the drivers and the track seems to be on an upswing. Do you see that as well?
DB: “I am going to be very positive towards New Egypt this year. I told them you have to have the track surface perfect every week. You can’t have a bad week and it has to be on point and if you do that the fans and the drivers will come back. You can’t jump that step, that has to be the first step. I felt like last year was the first year in a very long time that we didn’t have those bad nights and ended up with those horror stories everyone hears about New Egypt which is why the drivers don’t’ want to race there and why the fans don’t want to come there. If I were a fan, I wouldn’t want to watch the grader do 150 laps around the track trying to fix the track every Saturday night. I think Deyo not running there for a couple of year has helped them figure out what they needed to correct, and I am very happy that the STSS is coming back there this year. That’s because of the all the hard work they did last year to get the track surface under control. I do know that there is a lot more to running a track then just the surface but that has to be the priority and last year they did that. There were no nights last year that they had a bad surface, some nights it was better than others, but you are going to have that especially with crazy weather we had last year and it’s a dirt track. The telltale sign to me is when I went through my car over the winter and normally it’s broke everywhere, and everything is beat to death and as a race car driver that really discourages you from going back to a place but this year, I didn’t find that. I think they have definitely turned it around and I am excited to go back to New Egypt this year and like I said I plan on doing better as a driver to support the track more than I have in the past. It’s tough when you are a young guy like me who pays for a lot of this stuff out of pocket. We don’t have any big sponsors footing the bill and it’s just my dad and me. We work very hard for what we have so when you go to the track after working all week to pay for that nice race car and the track didn’t do anything all week to prepare the track that’s when I have no filter and probably say some things I shouldn’t, but if I work hard all week to race there I think they should as well. I think they did that last year and I feel really positive that you are going to see that again this year. With the STSS coming back and some really nice paying races, I think this year will be another positive one for New Egypt.”
DTD: What are your goals for 2019?
DB: “First and foremost it to win the track championship at New Egypt. I‘ve been racing there long enough to think that it’s definitely doable and winning the title there is what draws me back there every year. I’ve been close the past couple of years and have had just some terrible luck put me out of it right in the beginning of the season and it’s so hard to pull yourself up out of a hole there. David (VanHorn) didn’t win a points race there all season but he was just so consistent which is what you need to be to win a championship. Racing that way goes against my thinking. My racing has to pay for itself, so I am always going for wins. There have been times when I am running second and spun out going for the win but to me getting that win is more important because that win will pay for five nights of racing but finishing fifth every week might get you closer to the championship but does not get you the same payout. My other goal is to win a STSS race this year and I feel like that is possible. I thought I left one on the table last year at Bridgeport so I feel like I owe Craig one. I think we can do that but it’s going to be tough. We had the consistency last year with Craig’s cars and we ended up with a 12th place finish in the points. That to me is pretty good when you look who all finished in front of us. When you get a top 10 finish on the STSS running against the likes of Von Dohren, Howard, Sheppard, Godown and Watt that is saying something.”
When Danny Bouc hits the track in 2019, he will have a trio of cars in which to choose from. Bouc will driver his familiar No. 32 Teo Pro car at New Egypt this season outfitted with a spec 358 motor built by his father Gary. Danny will also run his own car in other special events throughout the season. Bouc will have a new 2019 Bicknell chassis equipped with an open small block built by Medford Speed for use on the STSS along with last years Troyer chassis with a small block under the hood. The No. 6 team will run the complete STSS South series along with a few of the STSS North races and other selected events throughout the year.
Sponsorship for the Craig and Lesley Pondish No. 6 cars comes from C & S Equipment, NAPA Auto Parts Connections and Short Load Concrete. The family owned No. 32 will have Gary’s Septic Service, Brengel Construction and Dig Race Products as sponsors of this year’s efforts.
This will be Danny Bouc’s third year running in the STSS South series, I could feel the determination the young driver had when we talked and with a little bit of luck, I think this could be the year that Bouc gets that long awaited first series victory.
As always, I can be reached for any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dirtracefan25