Reaches B-Main in Outlaw Competition at Port Royal
Port Royal, PA – October 12, 2020 – By Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
Burke Motorsports and Zach Newlin sure don’t take the easy path. In the past three weeks they have competed in two All Star Circuit of Champions events and four World of Outlaws events. For a new team, that’s a tall order. For that matter, it’s quite a challenge for an established team.
None of that seems to matter to this driver and team who are both new to the 410 sprint car ranks. They’re not intimidated. They have the ‘stuff’, they just need to learn and build their combined knowledge, in the pits and in the seat, to be able to compete at the front of the field. That’s why they are here competing against the best. “There’s no better way to learn“, said car owner Shawn Burke with a very matter of fact delivery.
Their plan must be a good one because, for the second week in a row, Newlin had the legendary Johnny Gibson talking about him on DirtVision, the Outlaws live broadcast viewed by thousands around the world.
Friday, October 9th Recap
The Grove Financial & Associates, Dillman Hauling, LLC., Kriner Racing Engines, Sander Engineering, Diversified Machine, Inc., Maxim Chassis, Walker Performance Filtration, Burke Motorsports #54 was one of 48 cars signed in for night one of the Nittany Showdown. The format for that car count called for time trials (2 flights of 24 cars each), 4 heat races, a C-main, B-main and A-main.
Prior to the event Newlin was asked what he focused on coming into an event like this. “Mostly it’s like any other night to me but the focus is definitely on time trials. They can make or break your entire night“, he shared. Zach was the third car to take time in Flight 2. He registered the 18th quickest time in his group. Certainly not a bad time at all for his first time qualifying under the clock at Port Royal Speedway. Each of the four heat races would start 12 cars and Newlin’s time earned him the 9th starting spot in the fourth heat.
A top five finish the heat race would provide a direct transfer to the A-main but that was probably a stretch to wish for against this field. A realistic goal was to hang on to his position or move forward a couple spots which would put him in the B-main, but the 8-lap heat race didn’t go as planned. He slid backward in the running order and finished 11th. The setup wasn’t what the car needed and the motor didn’t respond the way Newlin asked it to with his right foot.
Having run the fourth heat and now needing to run the C-main, the team had only a few minutes to discuss the situation, decide what to change and execute the changes. It was the first time the team had been put in this kind of situation. While everything didn’t go perfectly and there were lessons taken from those few minutes, the team managed to accomplish a lot under a great deal of pressure. Fuel nozzles were changed in hopes of curing the motor’s responsiveness, the wickerbill was changed to hopefully get a little more grip, a few twists of the suspension bolts were completed to get more balance and enough fuel was added to get through the upcoming 10-lap race.
Only the top two finishers would advance to the B-main, which would be quite an accomplishment from Newlin’s 8th starting spot. While he didn’t make the transfer spots and their night came to an end, there certainly was something positive to talk about as the team packed up. The car was much better and Zach was able to steadily move forward and finish 5th in the non-stop event. As a matter of fact, had there been even a single caution, he was good enough to have at least reached 4th and possibly 3rd.
Saturday, October 10th Recap
Night two of the final World of Outlaws venture into Pennsylvania for 2020 saw 51 cars sign in to go after the $15,000 winner’s prize. Under Outlaw rules, this car count meant a different, slightly more challenging format would be employed for the event. Once again the field would be divided into two flights of qualifying but after that things would be different. Unlike the night before when all cars ran heat races, tonight only the top 20 from each flight would go directly to heat races, while the remaining 11 cars would compete in a non-qualifiers race. The top four finishers from the non-qualifiers race would advance to the heat races and the remaining 7 cars would tag the back of the C-main starting lineup behind the eventual 10th and 11th places finishers from each heat race. Simply put, not transferring to a heat race would mean quite an uphill battle.
Newlin’s evening didn’t get off to a great start. He drew a pill that meant he would be the 15th car to take time out of a total of 25 in flight 2. The later a car goes onto the track, the more the track has changed and typically the slower times become. Zach timed 23rd in his group, relegating him to the non-qualifiers race. The team made some minor changes in the short turnaround time but things didn’t get any better. He started and finished 6th in that 8-lap event.
Saturday night’s event included a support division, the 305 RaceSaver sprint series, which allowed the 410 sprint car teams a little more time to work on their machines between events. The team huddled, Newlin shared his feedback and the team exchanged ideas about how to improve the car. Given how the track had changed throughout the night, they decided to try some things that had brought them success on the daytime surface one month earlier. It was a ‘big swing’ and maybe a little risky but what did they have to lose at this point.
Newlin was scheduled to start 8th in the 10-lap C-main with only the top two finishers transferring to the B-main. Once again, a steep hill to climb. A little luck fell his way before the green flag had dropped on the race. Two of the teams scheduled to start in front of Newlin’s Burke Motorsports entry had retired for the night due to issues. As a result, Zach took the green from the 6th position, immediately jumped to the top groove and drove all the way to 3rd position by the time lap one was in the books. He then proceeded to chip away at the gap in front of him and claim 2nd on lap 6. He held that spot, pulling away over the final four circuits and advanced to the B-main. It was during that C-main drive that Johnny Gibson focused on Newlin for nearly the entire event. His run to the front included five laps of exciting side by side racing with Kody Lehman for the transfer spot, during which the pair raced so close they nearly touched on a couple occasions. “Zach Daddy” had provided one of the most memorable battles of the night and earned quite a bit of broadcast time for it.
Newlin started 19th in the B-main, from which the top four would transfer to the night’s A-main. It was a typical Port Royal surface. It was wide and slick with multiple grooves but the fast way around turns one and two was on the wall. Zach was figuring out the nighttime surface at The Speed Palace and getting more and more comfortable. He raced the high groove through the east end of the speedway, inches from the wall, then dove to the low side where the moisture was at west end of the big half mile. Despite losing the brakes with five laps remaining due to a cut brake line, Zach was able to complete a couple quality passes and bring it home 17th to end the night.
A week earlier at Williams Grove Speedway the team set the bar at the C-main, their highest achievement in their inaugural Outlaw weekend. In just their second Outlaw weekend, against a deep field, they raised the bar to the B-main. Let’s not forget this team has only put this combination on the track 9 times and has only been together for less than 7 weeks.
When asked to reflect on the team’s weekend, Zach Newlin was brief. “Learning and building“, he said. Brief for sure but accurate too. The evidence supports it.
The team is building a notebook. Newlin is learning what to expect from the feel of a 410 sprint car. They are all learning how to communicate with each other.
The last 48 days have been a solid jump start for the future. Stay tuned.
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