By KEN BRUCE
One can say the 2022 season has not been quite what Dominick Buffalino and Glenn Hyneman had envisioned for the iconic No. 126 team. The team has shown speed at times, but at other times have suffered from mechanical breakdowns, ill-timed flat tires, and some just plain old bad luck.
Saturday night at Bridgeport was just another of those nights. Buffalino and the No. 126 Bicknell car came out for the feature and was on the move showing great speed only to have a flat tire force Buffalino to head to the pits. Buffalino raced back through the field and ended up fourth, but it was a disappointing finish. It wasn’t what Buffalino thought it could’ve been.
When all was said and done, Buffalino called owner Hyneman after getting home on Saturday night and informed him that he was going to quit as the driver of the No. 126. After some back and forth the next day between Buffalino and Hyneman, the driver and team owner came to an agreement that Buffalino would stay on as driver of the No. 126, but he would only compete at Bridgeport Motorsports Park leaving the ride open for another driver to compete in at other tracks and races.
Talking to Buffalino today, he explained his reasoning for stepping down as the full-time driver of the iconic Hyneman owned car.
“The bottom line is that it is a lot of work for not enough people,” explained Buffalino. “Last season we had Shayne here to help us and when he left over the winter to go back to working with Pauch (Billy Pauch Jr) it left us with a void. I ended up having to do everything on my own when it came to the car. To run as much as Glenn and Bonita wanted to run, I just couldn’t do it without more help and that wasn’t fair to them. They have given me everything I could have asked for when it comes to racing and I just cannot give them back what they deserve.”
Car owner Glenn Hyneman was naturally shocked when Buffalino called him and wasn’t quite sure what was going on and the reasoning behind Buffalino’s decision.
“I was coming home from my son’s wedding Saturday night and Dom called me,” explained Hyneman. “I asked him how he did and answered I got a flat which is just the way our luck has gone this year. I asked him if we were fast and he said yes so, I told not to worry about it, our luck will change as long as were fast. Then I hung up and I thought to myself he is really down.
“About an hour later after they got home and unloaded, he called me back and said I quit. Naturally I was shocked and asked him what did he mean he quit? He said I quit, it is just not fair to you and Bonita. I don’t have enough help and it is just not fair. I told him to think about it and we will talk tomorrow.”
Hoping it was just Buffalino feeling down after a night when he thought he should have won, the team owner hoped after a good night’s sleep Buffalino would change his mind.
“I called him about 10:30 the next morning and asked him how it was going and if he still wanted to quit and he said yes. As a matter of fact, he told me he was loading up his trailer to bring back the first load of my stuff back to my shop. So, I asked him if we wanted me to come down with my trailer so he didn’t have to run back and forth and we could talk a little bit.”
The two met together at Buffalino’s shop in New Jersey with the intention of Buffalino loading up all of Hyneman’s equipment to take back to his shop. As they continued to talk, Hyneman asked Buffalino why this came about.
“What it came down to is that Dom thought that he didn’t have the help to prepare the cars and race as much as I would’ve liked. I told him that I wasn’t complaining, and he said I know, but this will catch up with us and I just cannot do it. So, I then asked him since he didn’t have enough help would he be willing to keep one car here and just run Bridgeport? He said yeah, I can do that, but I never thought about bringing that up with you since you have all this stuff. I then told Dom that I am just not going to run Bridgeport and I would find another driver to race other shows for me, but I am willing to just run Bridgeport with you. I told him not to do it just for me but to make sure that is what he wanted to do.”
Buffalino said it will be a lot easier on him and his crew to prepare just one car and concentrate on just racing at one track.
“When I told Glenn I quit, I had no intention of racing his car at Bridgeport,” said Buffalino. “I just quit and didn’t think this was an option. Glenn, Bonita and Ray (Ray Carroll) all came to me and said they wanted me to run at Bridgeport and keep a car just for that and they will find another driver to run the other races. I asked them, are you sure because I didn’t want them to do it because they feel bad, but they all said they want to run Bridgeport with me.”
Despite all the bad luck and troubles the team had this season, Buffalino thought it was time that he had to do something for himself.
“This has all been on good terms and the way I told it to Glenn was that I am not quitting and screwing you over,” explained Buffalino. “We had a deal and Glenn, Bonita and Ray held up their end of the deal and I didn’t think I was. They have a lot of race cars and motors and they want to race they want to race a lot. They want to race Friday, Saturday and a midweek show and I just cannot do it. I have to tell you; I was worn out before the season even started just getting all the cars ready to race plus working on the shop and the trailer and that kind of stuff all adds up. It just wasn’t fair to them because they wanted to race a lot and rightfully so, but it also wasn’t fair to me that Glenn wanted me to go to all of these races that we were going to go to, but we might not be right.
“I didn’t mind going to Big Diamond because I had all week to get the car right but then you get home a 2:30 AM and have to get up early to unload that car, clean out the trailer, swap the tires our, prepare and grind tires for Bridgeport then having to load that car up and by the time I drove to Bridgeport, I was shot and being that way is going to affect you and how you race that night. The bottom line is that I am still going to race for Glenn but just race one night a week at Bridgeport and I am very happy with that. I know people are to say I quit because Ray (Ray Carroll) yells at me, but if that was the case, I would’ve quit 13 minutes after I signed up for this deal. But honestly, we are all still friends and I am still racing for Glenn, and I will do the best I can to get Glenn and Bonita some wins at Bridgeport.”
For Hyneman, in all his years of racing he said he has never experienced what took place over the past couple of days.
“So, I guess we have partially parted ways, but we have not parted way,” said a perplexed Hyneman. “This has never happened to me before and I don’t really know how to explain this. I want to race with Dom, I like him and have no problems with Dom and he tells me he has no problems with me. I guess he just burned out. I told him over the winter that I thought we had a help problem and didn’t have any really experienced guys that could help with this and I think that is what has come into play now. So, we agreed to what we will do, and I want him to run at Bridgeport for me. I mean, who else is better to run Bridgeport than Dom. So that is our plan right now. Dom has one of my cars and I will supply him with whatever he needs. and I am going to look around and see what I want to do for another driver. I want somebody with some experience and some help and Dom is good with that, he wants to race Bridgeport and that’s it. So right now, that’s where it stands at this point. Dominick is a really good guy, and we love racing with him.”
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