Newlin Named 358 Sprint Car Rookie of The Year
Logs Another Top 10 Run in Williams Grove 2020 Finale
Mechanicsburg, PA – September 27, 2020 – By Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
Coming into the final race of the season at Williams Grove Speedway for the 358 sprint cars on September 25th, Zach Newlin and team must have wished there was more racing left at the famous half-mile in 2020. They had just recently started hitting their stride. After some early season nights where it seemed defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory, they had recently registered a top 5 and a victory.
A couple key DNF’s from early in the summer stood out in their mind. They had broken while leading on one occasion and then had a part failure after going 17th to 7th in the first 23 laps of a 25 lap feature event. The sting of those nights was long gone though as a result of their recent successes.
In reality, the season as a whole thus far had been a success for Newlin. As evidence of that, prior to action Friday night at Williams Grove Speedway, an official approached the Newlin Racing pits with a package in hand. As he spoke with the driver from Millerstown, PA, he pulled out a plaque and explained to Newlin that he had already clinched the 358 sprint car Rookie of the Year Award. His eyes widened and a smile quickly emerged. After a few quick photos though, his attention quickly turned toward the night at hand and continuing the team’s recent momentum.
The Smith Concrete & Construction / Heather Sims, Realtor / J.W. Smith Auto Body / T&M Homebuilders, Inc. / Ron’s RV Sales / Kirby Kitner Excavating / Hammaker Racing Engines / The Podium Awards / Advanced Septic Services / Walker Performance Filtration #11z was one of 28 cards signed in. The field would be divided into three 8-lap heats, with the top six from each transferring directly to the A-main. The remainder would run the B-main to vie for the final six qualifying spots in the feature event’s 24 car field. All qualifiers would start straight up in the feature based on their finishing position in the heat races.
Williams Grove used a handicapping system based on season earnings to line up the heat races, which meant Zach would line up 9th in the first heat. He would have his work cut out for him to not only qualify for the feature event but also improve his starting position in that event as much as possible. He was up to the task. He used the low groove during the first half of the heat race to advance to the 5th position. When that seemed to no longer reap any rewards, he switched to the high line in an attempt to garner more. He nearly accomplished it, getting alongside the 4th place car in the final corners, but he ultimately settled for 5th by a mere half car length.
The qualifying effort meant Newlin would start 13th in the feature event. As is always the case when trying to improve the car and keep up with the ever-changing conditions of a dirt track, the team discussed options and made decisions about the changes they felt the car would need to move toward the front. During the opening laps of the A-main, it appeared they had made the correct choices. Zach again used the low line to move forward into 12th by lap 2. After narrowly avoiding becoming part of a multi-car crash on lap 2, he picked up where he left off on the restart. By the completion of lap 4 he had moved into 10th. The newly-crowned 2020 358 sprint car Rookie of the Year continued to work the low groove over next dozen laps, with the brief exception of a 2-lap experiment in the high groove that quickly showed it wasn’t a quicker way around for him when the 11th place car showed his nose underneath Newlin.
When the field reached lap 17, Zach still found himself in 10th and not gaining any ground, so he tried the high line once again in hopes it had blown off more by now and would prove to be the quicker way around the legendary paper-clip shaped half-mile. Unfortunately the handling just wasn’t where it needed to be for the 11z and Newlin rode home in 10th.
After climbing from the car and having some time to digest the night, his assessment in a word was: “Disappointing”. Unsure what else to say at the moment, he paused for a minute. His expression said it all though. They were so close…but they had just missed the setup they really needed to achieve another top 5. Newlin finally added, “It really ran well on the straights. It had plenty of grip there. We just couldn’t get through the middle and off the corners the way we needed to.” The entire time he spoke it was clear the wheels were still turning in his head about how to be better next time. That’s the drive of a successful racer.
The 2020 season may not be entirely over for Newlin. There is another 358 show at the Lincoln Speedway in October that could find its way onto the team’s schedule or maybe if things work out he will get the opportunity to race another night or two in the 410 he recently dabbled in. Time will tell.
Be sure to check out the photo gallery below from Friday night!
Zach’s parents Jeff and Kelly Newlin reflected on the team’s 358 sprint car season. “We wrapped up the season with another top 10 and put it in the trailer in one piece, so we’re happy”, Kelly shared. She continued, ” A win, an 8th place finish in the points and Rookie of the Year at ‘The Grove’ in his first 358 season is incredible.”
Jeff, Kelly and the entire team also wanted to express their thanks to the many sponsors and partners who support the team. This wouldn’t be possible without those businesses and individuals. 2020 has been a challenging year for many of the small businesses who sponsor and support teams like Newlin Racing and several of them had to find creative ways to help the team this season. The team greatly appreciates all the help they received this season, no matter what the form. Please take time to read the list of those businesses below and patronize them if you are able.
You can also find links to many of them in the Sponsors and Partners section on this page: #Team A2D Driver Zach Newlin
Smith Concrete and Construction
Heather Sims, Realtor
J.W. Smith Auto Body
T&M Homebuilders, Inc.
Ron’s RV Sales
Kirby Kitner Excavating
Hammaker Racing Engines
The Podium Awards
Advanced Septic Services
Walker Performance Filtration
BDR Racing Products
River Bend Hop Farm & Brewery
Newport American Legion Post 177
HRF Heishman Racing Fuels
Newlin Bar Service
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