Victory! We finally pulled off a big win this season Saturday night at the Tony Stewart Classic at the Indianapolis Speedrome in our family owned #33 midget. In my opinion, winning a big race in a car that you have put your own blood, sweat, and tears into makes it that much sweeter. Between my dad, mechanic Charles Holland, and myself, several weeks of this summer had been devoted to building the #33 car and getting it to a level that we knew could win the race. It is grueling work and not all glorious but man, it sure does feel good standing in victory lane!
We started the weekend with open testing on Friday night. It was important for me to get out on the track as much as possible because the track had been recently repaved and I wanted to soak up as much information as possible. We ended up 2nd quick in testing to Teddy Beach who was making his midget return after a 5 year hiatus. I was happy but not completely satisfied. Saturday morning was a little bit of a struggle for me because I made some changes to the car that I thought might help it but we actually slowed down and I ended up qualifying 4th which was not exactly where I thought we could run. It definitely knocked my confidence down a little bit but a good racer should never think about giving up after qualifying. A cool thing about running a family owned car is that I am free to make essentially any change I want to the car, no questions asked. The only bad thing is that if you are slow, it’s all on you. So for the preliminary races, I went back to the drawing board and changed a few things to get a better balance in the car. Luckily they worked! We won the trophy dash and heat race and I was feeling much better about the 100 lap feature.
I would roll off 4th for the feature and it had a special format that I thought was pretty cool. After 75 laps, everyone could change one tire and the leader had the option to change all four tires and go to the tail of the field with a $10,000 incentive if they won. Before the feature, all of the drivers got to speak with Tony Stewart for a few. I want to give him a shout out for being a part of this race and putting a premier pavement midget race back on the calendar! After driver introductions, the field rolled off for 100 laps of green flag action. I knew I had a fast car from the drop of the green flag and I didn’t want to waste too much time getting to the front because I like setting the pace of the race if I can. I slid past Teddy Beach and Billy Wease and got into a rhythm up front. The car was pretty much perfect. I actually turned the fastest lap in Speedrome history on lap 23 of the race which was really special to me because Speedrome was the first track that I ever raced a midget at. This is where I give a shout out to my engine company Esslinger. I was coming off the corners really strong. At the lap 75 break, I was the leader and decided to decline the $10,000 bonus to go to the tail. In my opinion, a win in this race was much more important than the huge risk to come to the tail and possibly get caught up in someone else’s mess. So I took the safe route and stayed out front. On a side note, it is a good thing that the break was at exactly lap 75 because I literally ran out of gas as I crossed the start finish line for the 75th time. We fueled the car back up for the last 25 laps and got back to business. I led the last 25 and got the win but not without a late race challenge from Grant Galloway. He put some pressure on in the closing laps but I was able to hold him off luckily.
Victory lane was so fun. It seemed like all of my friends and family were able to be there for this one and it was great to celebrate with them. Even got a beer shower from my buddy Keith Gummer! I want to thank each and every person who has supported me and allowed me to get to the position I was in Saturday night. I’m glad I was able to celebrate with everyone! Below I have some pictures from the night. Take a look!