Story By: MANDEE PAUCH / HBR – WEEDSPORT, NY – Most teams travel south to Volusia Speedway Park to escape the winter weather and get their racing fix. The Heinke-Baldwin Race team used the four nights during the DIRTcar Nationals as a test session to prepare their teams for the upcoming season.
“We went down there with an open mind,” Jimmy Phelps said. “We brought a package that we hadn’t had any experience with and wanted to give a try. We really didn’t know where we were going with it.”
The week prior, both teams tested in north Florida with hopes to get the bugs out and dust the rust off.
“We had a really good test the week before, but Volusia was so much different and with the challenging track conditions we fought, we struggled. Our biggest struggles were in qualifying. The track had a lot of traction and we couldn’t really get the car freed up enough to get a good lap. Then we’d start deep in the heats and come feature time it was tough starting so far back. When you get behind, it’s really hard to show results.”
Phelps felt the track conditions played a big part on their week.
“I think more or less the track conditions really limited us,” he said. “I felt we struggled in the holes, but the car was definitely a little bit more competitive come feature time. Obviously when you start as far back as we were it made it even more difficult.”
Despite the results, Phelps and his team learned a tremendous amount and are very pleased with the outcome.
“Win or lose, we knew going into it last week we’d need a different setup for when we go to Fulton for the first points race,” noted Phelps. “Florida is a different animal. You can’t really compare Volusia to the tracks we race at in New York.”
Teammate Max McLaughlin was also satisfied with his teams’ trip south for the DIRTcar Nationals.
“We had speed,” added McLaughlin. “We had a podium finish when the track was as slick as it could get down there so that gives me a lot of confidence for the Super DIRTcar Series this year. A lot of the tracks in New York are similar to that type of condition.”
McLaughlin and the No.6H team feel they have just a little more work to do.
“We need to work on our qualifying package,” McLaughlin said. “I can race well when it gets slick, but we need to find something when the track is heavy and has speed. I just need to figure something out to suit my driving style better.”
The team tried a few out of the box ideas on the car but still feel they need to find some more speed for heavy, fast track conditions similar to Volusia.
“We went to Volusia with a goal to get it to turn better and I feel like we found some things that have helped but we are still working on it.”
Stay tuned for an upcoming release announcing the teams 2018 schedule.