Closes Season with 410 Outing in Sprint Showdown at BAPS Motor Speedway
Harrisburg, PA – November 16, 2020 – By Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
When the calendar flipped to 2020, Zach Newlin wasn’t sure what the season would bring. The family team wanted a new challenge and was eyeing a move to 358 sprint car racing. Things weren’t coming together just yet though, so a return to the 305 sprint car division where he had been very successful for several years was still a possibility. The dream of 410 sprint car racing was still in the back of his mind, but seemed quite far off. Fortunately some stars aligned and the pieces came together to go 358 racing in 2020. At the time, Newlin and his family were extremely happy but had no idea just how much that step would ultimately mean. Despite the pandemic interrupting the early part of the season, Zach was able to quickly show speed in his family’s familiar 11z, now with a 358 under the hood. That step up was all it took for Shawn Burke to walk into Newlin’s trailer one summer night, ask him if he was interested in driving his 410 sprint car and tell Zach to give him a call. Once Newlin processed it all, the choice seemed clear. He would make his 410 debut August 23rd and just days later would win his first 358 sprint car race at Williams Grove Speedway. What a year this was turning out to be.
Fast forward to mid-November. Once again, as she often seems to do, Mother Nature blessed BAPS Motor Speedway with terrific Central Pennsylvania autumn weather for their annual season-ending Capitol Renegade Sprint Showdown on Saturday, November 14th. The sunshine was enough to lure Burke Motorsports, wheelman Zach Newlin and the Grove Financial & Associates, Dillman Hauling, LLC., Kriner Racing Engines, Sander Engineering, DMI, Maxim Chassis, Walker Performance Filtration to the track one last time in 2020.
The field of 34 entries would run 2-lap time trials in the afternoon sun to set up the four 10-lap heat races. The top 5 in each heat would transfer to the A-main, with the top 2 from each taking part in a redraw. The top 2 fastest qualifiers who qualified but finished outside of the top 2 would also join the redraw. With the redraw setting the top 10 starting spots, the remaining qualified drivers would fill starting positions 11-20. Non-qualifiers from the heat races would take part in the B-main, from which the top 4 would fill out positions 21-24 in the starting field.
Newlin was the 14th car out for his timed qualifying run. His best lap of 16.183 placed him 27th overall, which meant he would start 7th in the third heat. As the field lined up for that heat race, Zach was moved up to the 6th starting spot when the 19m of Landon Myers unable to make the call. At the drop of the green, Newlin took to the high side and moved his way up to 5th. On the following circuit he switched to the low side of the speedway and began to challenge Lucas Wolfe for 4th. Unfortunately the caution lights flashed on when the leader got into the wall and rolled to a stop. With two laps complete and the leader sidelined, Zach restarted 4th on the outside of row 2. Over the final eight laps, Newlin tried the high side, the middle and the low side. He was able to briefly move alongside Matt Campbell for the 3rd position but ultimately settled for 4th. It was a solid run that put the team directly into the A-main. It seemed the team had made the right calls for the daytime surface, now they would need to figure out how to keep up with the track and the competition as the sun set.
Rolling off 15th for the 30 lap A-main, Newlin liked his low side starting spot. Often times, ground can be gained on the low side while the field sorts itself out early in the going. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be the case on this night. You know that feeling when you get in the wrong line at the grocery story? Zach Daddy can relate. As the green flag flew, a car in front of him got out of shape, causing the inside line to check up while the outside line zipped by. Those few seconds relegated Newlin to 20th place, where he settled in and tried to get into a rhythm and build up momentum. Over the course of the first 16 laps, through a couple cautions, he did manage to recover some but generally wasn’t moving forward enough to gain anything at the payout window. When the red lights flashed on for a crash on the 17th lap, the team made the decision to call it a night and park their Kriner powered Maxim chassis. In this day and age of sprint car racing, financially smart decisions have to be made to make sure you have the resources to race again the next time.
When the dust finally settled Saturday night, Newlin was officially credited with 19th, a couple more lessons had been recorded in the ever-growing notebook and the car was in one piece. For a team trying to build a foundation, that’s a successful night…and a successful 12 weeks.
For the Burke/Newlin pairing, which formed just 12 weeks ago, each and every outing in the back half of 2020 has been about track time and learning, so why pass up one more opportunity. There were no lofty expectations when they joined forces, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t optimism. They made not have made the headlines in their 11 races, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t highlights.
In just over 2 months, using a challenging but smart approach, the Burke Motorsports/Zach Newlin combination managed to build a base notebook by logging 4 races at BAPS, 3 at Port Royal Speedway, 3 at Williams Grove Speedway and 1 at Lincoln Speedway. They didn’t shy away from competition either. Over half of their outings were against traveling series: 4 vs. the World of Outlaws and 2 vs. the All Star Circuit of Champions. The remaining 5 races were against the always tough PA Posse. There’s nothing like jumping into the deep end of the pool, right? Along the way there were small victories, worthwhile discoveries and experience gained. And there were notable achievements, such as Newlin garnering the Hard Charger Award at Port Royal’s Labor Day Classic and making moves that caught the attention of Johnny Gibson, the long-time voice of the World of Outlaws, during a broadcast.
Although it may have felt like it just started for Burke and Newlin, the reality is 2020 is a wrap. Will this season’s learning sessions pay off in 2021? I think you will want to stay tuned. This is a young team with a lot of potential. Zach Daddy and Burke Motorsports are likely to make waves in Central PA, especially if all the pieces fall into place. If you happen to be one of those businesses out there looking to step into the sprint car world, this team is worth a look. They might earn their partners a lot of attention in the coming years.
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