Friday, August 10, 2012
Henderson Wins Friday’s Feature at Goodyear Knoxville Nationals
KNOXVILLE, Iowa -- Justin Henderson drove the Buffalo Wild Wings No. 82 to victory in Friday night’s 25-lap A main at Knoxville Raceway, the final tune-up for Saturday’s $150,000-to-win, 50-lap Goodyear Knoxville Nationals.
It was the fourth victory for Todd LaHaise’s team since he hired Henderson in late May, and it gave the Sioux Falls, S.D.-based driver the 17th starting spot in Saturday night’s 52nd annual Goodyear Knoxville Nationals, the premier event for the World of Outlaws sprint car series.
Henderson started sixth in Friday night’s feature and he ran in fifth place for the first nine laps. He moved into third on a restart on lap 10 after Danny Lasoski of Dover, Mo. had a flat tire and brought out a caution flag. He passed Cody Darrah of Red Lion, Pa. for second with 11 laps remaining and then set his sights on the leader, polesitter David Gravel of Watertown, Conn., who was also the fastest qualifier Friday night.
Henderson used the outside groove and lapped traffic in the form of Jeff Swindell of Bartlett, Tenn. to make the winning pass in Turn 2 with five laps remaining. Gravel fought back and finished less than 1 second behind Henderson. Dale Blaney of Fowler, Ohio was third. Darrah hung on for fourth and Kerry Madsen of St. Marys, New South Wales, Australia rounded out the top five in the 24-car field.
The top four finishers transferred to Saturday’s A main, and being in the top four was Henderson’s primary goal.
“Once I got into fourth and then third I thought I was in a pretty good spot, but then I started gaining on the leaders so I just went for it,” he said. “Then David and I were sandwiched between the lapped car of Jeff Swindell and it was really close, but I came out first.
“This is big for the Buffalo Wild Wings team,” he added. “We’re a young team but we did everything we needed to do tonight and more.
“I have to thank Todd LaHaise and everyone on the team,” Henderson added. “Our car is a Maxim and it’s very consistent. We’re using Parker engines now.”
Although he’ll start Saturday’s big race on the inside of Row 9 beside Gravel, Henderson said his victory on Friday gives him added confidence.
“The track could be different, but I don’t think it will be too different tomorrow night,” he said. “We should have a real solid baseline for tomorrow.”
Henderson has been racing sprint cars for the last four years in Central Pennsylvania, but he moved back to South Dakota this spring due to a family member’s illness. His former car owners, Charlie and Dawn Sorokach of Sorokach Motorsports based in Minersville, Pa., were among the first to congratulate Henderson for his victory on Friday.
Friday’s victory was Henderson’s fourth ever at the half-mile dirt oval and second this season.
Earlier in the evening Henderson qualified 15th out of 67 entries in time trials. He started second and then finished second to Gravel in the first of seven heats to transfer to Friday night’s A main despite a vibration that developed in his car during that race.
His car’s front wing was damaged in Friday’s feature but Henderson said it wasn’t due to contact with another car. “It must have just been a big clod of dirt,” he noted.
For more information, see Henderson’s Web site at JustinHenderson.com; the series’ Web site at WorldofOutlaws.com and the track’s Web site at KnoxvilleRaceway.com.