New Pairing Achieving Early Success
Millerstown, PA – April 25, 2021
by Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
For a driver wheeling a different chassis/engine combination than he is accustomed to, and a team working to understand the communication style of a new driver, early success is not typical. It takes time for a team to gel. The new 358 sprint car combination of Zach Newlin and Mansberger Motorsports seemed to show some early potential with a solid ending to their first outing together a week earlier at Williams Grove Speedway in the heart of PA Posse country, but one top 10 doesn’t prove anything on its own. Friday, April 23rd found them back at “The Grove” to try to put a successful night together from start to finish in just their second outing.
With 22 HJ Towing and Recovery 358 sprint cars signed in for action, three 8-lap heat races were lined up by random pill draw. All cars would qualify for the A-main but only the top 4 finishers would be involved in the redraw to set the top 12 starting spots for the night’s main event.
Newlin’s team drew the pole position for the second heat but Zach quickly showed he was more than just good enough to stay out front. When the green flag dropped, he pulled away quickly and built a 5 car-length advantage by the time he reached the famous bridge halfway down the backstretch. The Mansberger Motorsports 21m almost appeared to be on a rail. It was balanced and smooth on corner entry and exit. Newlin continued to steadily build his lead, winning the event by nearly a straightaway.
A heat race performance like that can actually make the team’s setup decisions for the feature tougher. Do you leave the car alone? Do you attempt to make minor improvements? Do you adjust to keep up with the ever-changing surface of a dirt track as more laps are turned by other divisions? While it can appear from the stands that the drivers just strap in, mash the gas and turn left, it takes so much more than that. These cars are finicky and sensitive. One wrong educated guess on setup by the crew or the wrong approach with the throttle and wheel by the driver, and the car will be going backward through the running order instead of forward.
Next up was the redraw for the top 12 teams. Fortunately, a favorable draw provided the team with the 4th starting spot for the 20-lap feature event. Even the starting spot factors into the team’s decisions on setup, so now they could finalize their decisions.
The initial drop of the green on the feature event saw Newlin get a great start and slip into second by the time the field exited turn 2, however the caution would come out before a lap was complete, forcing a complete restart. Once the event was successfully underway, he was able to work his way up to second on lap 2 using a pass on the low side through turns one and two.
Over the next several laps, Zach tried the low side and high side at both ends of the speedway, working to find a way to get quicker and close the 6 car-length lead Matt Findley had built ahead of him. In the meantime, Derek Locke was pursuing Newlin and trying to find a way around him. When Findley entered lapped traffic, Zach was able to close the gap slightly but the caution came out just after the field reached the halfway mark, which would mean a clear track for the leader on the restart.
On the restart, Newlin drove low in turn one to try to make a run on Findley and close the door on Locke at the same time. Locke was strong though and managed to get around the outside of Zach, dropping him to 3rd. Over the remaining laps, as the fuel load lightened on Newlin’s 21m, the handling wasn’t quite good enough to run down Locke and Findley, but it was good enough to maintain 3rd and record a podium finish for Mansberger Motorsports.
A dominating heat race win followed by a podium finish certainly meets the definition of a successful night from start to finish, so file this night under ‘mission accomplished’.
Zach Newlin and the Mansberger Motorsports team’s next race is scheduled for Friday, May 7th at Williams Grove Speedway. If you’re not able to be there, the event will be available via live stream on DirtVision.
Follow Newlin Racing’s season at: https://addicted2dirtpr.com/latest-news/
Learn more about Zach Newlin at: https://addicted2dirtpr.com/home/drivers/zachnewlin/
Newlin Racing on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NewlinRacing
Newlin Racing on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NewlinRacing
Photos from 4/23/2021 at Williams Grove Speedway
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