Strunk Returns to Familiar Seat for the ’23 Racing Season – DTD Exclusive

126 Jeff Strunk

By KEN BRUCE

A familiar combination will reunite for full-time competition in 2023.

Jeff Strunk returns to the seat of the iconic Glenn & Bonitak Hyneman owned No. 126 with their sites set on wins and championships. This will be the third stint for Strunk as driver on the Hyneman No. 126. This potent combination has recorded a total of 42 wins and three championships in past seasons including four Grandview 76 wins.

“I will be back with Glenn (Hyneman) full-time again this year,” said Strunk as we talked on Sunday afternoon as he just left the race shop. “We will be running the same schedule together that we have run in the past which will be Big Diamond on Fridays, Grandview on Saturday, the Short Track Super Series South and other special races in the area.”

Strunk is happy to be back racing at Grandview since the track has announced they will return after the apparent sale of the track to Copart fell apart.




“It is a good thing that Grandview is opening back up, that is great for myself and all of the other teams that race there,” commented Strunk. “I would have had no problems running anywhere if that was the case and we would’ve done what we had to do, but Grandview is my home.  That is where I think I belong, and with all the experience we have there, I think that is the best place for me. It works out great being back with Glenn full-time this year. Last year was tough after we got back with Glenn having the same crew working out of two different shops and that was a big part of my decision.”

As we all know, Strunk drove mainly for owner Dave Zubikowski last year and wanted to emphasize that their relationship is still good and what respect and appreciation he has for his friend.

“Zubi has been nothing but great for me,” explained Strunk. “Both times I have run for him have been much more than I could have ever asked for. Dave let me run the whole show with never a negative comment. It was a really good deal and I really appreciate his friendship and support more than words can say. I still have the cars and we plan to do five or six races together this year. We are not sure of where or when, but I want to keep it all intact and keep the No. 88Z rolling. Dave and his family are like a family to me and doing a half dozen or so races next year will be good for him and me.”

Strunk and Hyneman raced together late last season after Dominick Buffalino left the No. 126 as a full-time driver (Buffalino did remain in the car racing at Bridgeport only). Although Strunk wasn’t able to record a win in his limited starts with the team last season, the late season results were very positive.

“Racing with Glenn will give me some more opportunities to race with the cars and the motors he has,” mentioned Strunk. “We had a good showing at the end of the season last year at Georgetown and that was huge for him (Glenn) and huge for me to give some confidence going into this year. We didn’t win any races last year, but we were close and right there putting ourselves in position to win.

“With Glenn, I will have all the ingredients I need to win whether it be a spring smasher or anything really,” said Strunk. “We started this with Dave two years ago and we were building up to that point and now we don’t have to worry about having Dave to invest more to keep the thing going to keep it as good as it could be and that is where Glenn already has the resources to go forward with.”

This will be the third go around for the Strunk / Hyneman combination and it is a relationship that Strunk is proud of. Strunk is hoping that the third time’s a charm.

“Hopefully that is correct,” said Strunk jokingly. “That’s what we are planning on. Hey, both know each other, we know what we both want and that is to win. The key there is that I have never not talked to Glenn no matter what the circumstances were. We have always remained friends either through work or friendship and I think the third time around will be the best one yet.”

“Look, racing these cars is tough. It is a lot of work, and this deal doesn’t get any easier and it is harder than ever to do well and win but I think we have everything in place that we need to do that and there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to do that.”

Last season Strunk battled through some back issues but thinks they are all behind him now and he feels like he is in great shape to start in 2023.

“I feel like I am in as good shape now as I have ever been in regard to my mindset and my health,” mentioned Strunk. “My back feels good and honestly, I feel better now going into a season than I have ever felt. I am looking forward to getting back into the seat of a race car and doing what I love to do. The way the cars are now being so hard and demanding to drive it is important to be in a good mental and physical state and let’s face it I am not getting any younger. Having confidence in this sport is important and it has to start with being in a good mental and physical shape to begin with and I think we are where we need to be to start the year and looking to get on a roll and keep that confidence up.”

Strunk went on to talk about what the cars are like to drive these days and how it has forced everyone to adapt.

“The Modifieds these days are much more demanding to drive,” explained Strunk. “Everybody has the same stuff or is buying the same stuff and it comes down to having confidence in yourself and the car and today the driver has to be as good as the car. Years ago, there were times during a race where you could take it easy but now you have to drive it as hard as you can each lap. It has taken a little bit of the  finesse out of it but in the same sense you still have to have a little bit of that and that is part of the game that I may have struggled with at times to adapt to it but if you want to be competitive you have to change your driving style up to keep up the cars and I think I have come a long way the past year or so to work on that. It’s a new ballgame now and it is up to me to adapt and step up to the plate to make it work.”

If you have any questions, I can be reached by email at dirtracefan25@hotmail or on Twitter @dirtracefan25