Second Career 410 Outing Yields Hard Charger Award
Port Royal, PA – September 8, 2020 – By Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
After making the show in his maiden voyage aboard a 410 sprint car two weeks earlier, Zach Newlin and Burke Motorsports decided to give it another whirl, this time at Port Royal Speedway for the 69th Annual Labor Day Classic.
That first night, which came at BAPS Motor Speedway on August 23rd, saw Newlin improve significantly throughout the evening as the team made changes to make him more comfortable. It was a productive and fun night for all on a track where Zach had logged many laps in a 305 sprint car with much success. Port Royal Speedway is also a place where Newlin has logged many laps with success in a 305 but tackling the tricky daytime surface in a 410 would bring a new challenge.
The Burke Motorsports, Kriner Racing Engines, DMI, Sander Engineering, Maxim Chassis #54 signed in as one of 36 entries for the afternoon show. The field was divided into 4 heats, which were lined up by a random pill draw. Five cars would qualify from each heat race, with the top 3 going into the redraw for the top 12 starting spots in the A-main. Non-qualifiers would compete in a B-main from which the top 6 would transfer to the A-main, filling starting spots 21-26.
Newlin started outside row three in the 6th position in the first heat of the day. The majority of the event saw Zach mix it up as part of a three car battle for the 7th-9th positions. Following a red flag that appeared with two laps remaining, he restarted 7th and would go on to finish 6th, missing the transfer by one spot. On the bright side, the finish would put Newlin on the pole of the B-main last chance qualifying race later in the afternoon.
After a quick team meeting to hear Newlin’s feedback and make decisions, the team began making setup and engine tuning changes to prepare for their final shot to make the show.
Zach’s partner on the front row of the 10-lap B-main was Jared Esh, while Justin Whittal and Kyle Smith would make up the second row. Lining up 9th was the current All Star Circuit of Champions points leader, Aaron Reutzel of Clute, Texas. On the opening lap, Newlin chose the low side of the speedway and settled into 2nd position. He then moved up to a higher groove, about one lane below the cushion, where he ran about 8 car lengths behind leader Esh for several circuits. By lap 4 Reutzel had moved into 3rd and by lap 6 he was close enough to pull a slide job on Newlin in turns 1 and 2, but Newlin wasn’t giving up so quickly against the veteran. He turned left using a crossover move to speed back by Reutzel on the low side. The #87 of the All Star point leader was strong though and he reclaimed 2nd the following lap. Newlin held solidly onto 3rd from that point and transferred into the Labor Day Classic feature event.
Zach was officially 2-for-2 in making main events in his 410 sprint car career. That alone was an accomplishment but it also meant an opportunity for 25 more laps to continue learning. Nothing beats seat time when you’re a racer.
The qualifying effort meant the Burke Motorsports entry would start 23rd on the grid. From the drop of the green flag, Newlin methodically worked the low side of the speedway, maintaining car control and slipping by other cars that were either missing their line or experimenting with other grooves early in the going. During the first 10 laps he would advance 7 positions. Following each of two caution flags, the first with 14 laps remaining and the latter with 13 remaining, Newlin restarted 16th.
By that stage of the race, all teams had realized the bottom was the best line as the track began to take rubber in the hot afternoon sun. After a caution with 8 to go, once again Newlin would restart 16th. Being precise and hitting his marks, he was able to take 15th from Esh with 6 to go. In the closing laps, one of the front runners suffered a flat right rear tire and Newlin was able to execute one more low line pass, resulting in a 13th place finish for the 410 rookie.
There were plenty of smiles around the Burke Motorsports pit area following the race. Advancing 10 spots on the tricky daytime surface is quite an accomplishment for any driver but especially for a guy who was only strapping himself into one of the most powerful race cars on the planet for only the second time in his career. Those smiles got even bigger when the news came minutes later that Newlin’s +10 effort had earned him the Hard Charger Award and a $400 bonus to the team!
Newlin’s first two outings have been encouraging to say the least. Asked about his first start at The Speed Palace occurring on a daytime surface, Zach said “I have enough laps around this place, especially running the bottom, so I knew what I was doing.” He continued, “It was definitely slick but I could keep up with the car. It was underneath me all the time. I just had to learn to ease back onto the throttle off the corners. Had we made those same changes earlier today, we would have qualified through our heat race.” Newlin concluded, “I really have to thank Shawn and Austin Burke for the opportunity and for giving me a really good car today. That was fun.” It must have been. Hours later, he still had that same big smile on his face.
Be sure to look at the bottom of this post for a video of Zach’s opening 4 laps of the 69th Annual Labor Day Classic at Port Royal Speedway!
The Burke Motorsports team and Newlin are tentatively planning his third career 410 sprint car start for Thursday, September 17th at BAPS Motor Speedway for the Kevin Gobrecht Classic. Meanwhile, Newlin Racing is targeting a September 25th return to Williams Grove Speedway to go for two wins in a row in the family’s 11z 358 sprint car. Be sure to follow Newlin Racing on Facebook or Twitter to get the latest schedule updates and other news! Their social media info is listed below.
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