By KEN BRUCE
OSWEGO, NY – Its’ been a week of struggles for Neshanic Station, N.J., Jimmy Horton and his Chris Larson owned Halmar International Racing team so far at Oswego for Super DIRT Week. Horton had high hopes coming into the week as his team had put together a new 2017X Bicknell Chassis with a new Enders Racing Engines big-block bolted under the hood.
Their plan started to go awry last Friday night at Georgetown Speedway when they hurt their big-block motor in their regular forcing the team to come home on Saturday and change motors to race at Bridgeport that night instead of focusing on the completion of their Oswego car. That little setback caused to the team to finish their SDW car a little later than expected.
The team did get the car finished and left for SDW on Wednesday morning in hopes of getting some practice in that afternoon to see how the new car felt. Horton never made it out for practice as the rains came before they could get their car on the track. Thursday morning’s practice came and after all was said and done Horton was not satisfied with the speed of the car at all. After making some major changes to the car between practice and time trials Horton was able to go out and qualify in a very respectable 13th spot.
Friday night’s 30 lap heat race proved to be a very satisfying run for the Halmar Team as they started in the fifth spot and stayed out of trouble during the race to finish in sixth.
Talking to Jimmy afterwards he said “The car ran very well and that they were making gains on it as the week went along.”
But the team’s struggles were not over at that point when the car wouldn’t start later on. Horton explained the situation.
“The ignition just shut off on us causing the car not to start. We don’t know why it happened. We changed the ignition box out and still had trouble with new one as well so we ended up rewiring the whole thing and hopefully that fixed that problem.”
I asked Horton how today’s 200 lap will play at and he honestly wasn’t sure how it was going to go.
“I got the same shot as anyone else has I guess. We got it going pretty decent right now. I am just not a fan of this slippery type race track. Me and (Stewart) Friesen were just talking and were hoping they would take the grader out and make it like last year when it was fun.”
Horton said it will take a good strategy to get the job done today and he is hoping that his veteran savvy will help when it comes down to race time.
“It’s definitely going to be a strategy race the whole race. You have to try and not punish the car too much early on but really a track like this doesn’t usually punish a car too much. I really think it’s going to be a ride around race for 200 laps.”
Usually on a hard slick track likes today track is most likely going to be. Tires will come into play. What tires will work best. Hard tires or soft tires? Do we need to changes tires or not? I asked the “Sensational One” how he thought the tire situation will play out for his team.
“I think tires will be a big factor today. It’s a little warmer and sunnier than they thought it would be. Yesterday (in the 358 race) they had pretty good tire wear and were able to go the whole distance but that’s also a small-block and not a big-block like today. It’s a guessing game right now just like last year was. We are planning not to have to change tires but we have every tire compound available from 300’s to 500’s if we need them. It’s just going to have depend on how the track goes later on.”
Horton was his typical low keyed self this morning as we talked after just getting done siping and grinding some tires. I could feel a sense of confidence from Jimmy while I was talking to him but also a little bit of the unknown. If you know Horton, the man is always thinking and if that was the only requirement to win today it would be his to win. But we all know in racing that along with having confidence you need a whole lot of luck to go with it, especially in a long 200 lap race like today’s.
From a pure personal perspective having been a huge Jimmy Horton fan for over 30 years, nothing would make me feel better than if Horton won today’s race and then did a mic drop in victory lane and call it a career. I do know it would make for a helluva a party tonight especially for me. For Horton, it would be business as usual when he showed up for work at Art’s Radiator on Monday morning.
As always, I can reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @dirtracefan25 for any questions or comments.