By MIKE MALLETT
Caleb Helms wrapped up a dream weekend on Saturday. The Findlay, Ohio, driver captured Friday night’s opener at Attica Raceway Park before capturing the 30-lap, $5,000 to win feature at Mansfield Motor Speedway. The once dormant facility returned to its dirt racing roots. The historic track roared back to life after being shuttered for nearly ten years.
“This is sweet,” said Helms with a huge smile after Saturday night’s win. “It’s been a great weekend. It hasn’t hit me yet. It’s awesome that we have Mansfield back as a dirt track again. It’s a fun place. I know they are going to get the bugs worked out, make it smoother and hopefully get the dirt laid down nice so we can have some more great races. This is special. My dad raced here when it was dirt before and he always liked this place so this is pretty cool.
Helms completed the weekend sweep in impressive fashion. He started 12th in Saturday night’s A-Main. Helms moved his No. 17 around on speedway using the high and low lanes. Although the track had a few character spots, Helms was able to take advantage of the rough spots to make passes.
“My crew-chief, Andy Potter, he can just read the track and read the cars,” stated Helms. “That made the difference. He left the car to where I could drive it. He told me he put special tires on it. We got a great J&J car. Scott Gressman builds a heck of a motor. We got great shocks, just a lot of great group people around us. It’s just nice for it to come together.”
In order to make headway, Helms worked the car hard. He used up his brakes in the final laps as he closed in on race long leader Jac Haudenschild in the nearly non-stop feature.
“I was going where they weren’t and not lifting as much,” commented Helms. “I used my brakes up and my pads were gone. After that yellow I had no more brakes. That worked out good. I think I needed those brakes to turn underneath guys, to get in hard and stop to turn.”
Luckily for him, the final caution on lap 27 was for the leader Haudenschild handing him the lead meaning he didn’t have to use his brakes at the end. Helms had been gaining but this gave him the easy to the point.
“I think we were coming,” cited Helms about the late race charge. “He had been up there to start and we weren’t too far behind. That stinks for them. I know they were good, but I’m going to take it. Those last three laps were the easiest laps of the race thankfully. I was really worried that I was going to have to use the brakes to get hunkered down. When it’s rough like that using the brakes helps you holds down.”
It was a career weekend for Helms as he took home $8,000 in prize money. It’s a nice way to kick off the local racing scene for Helms. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come this summer.