Column By: MARTY CZEKALA / RPW – CANANDAIGUA, NY – When Justin Haers took the checkered flag in the Big Block Modified feature at Land of Legends last Saturday night, you just knew that the celebration was going to be filled with joy and emotion.
Not only was it Haers’ first win of 2021, it was his first ever win since 2017, when he won during championship night in Canandaigua.
It was also his first ever win since losing his dad Gerald in July 2019.
Haers celebrated this win with a roof dance on top of the car and was then brought to tears when told “welcome back to victory lane”
“Wow. Its been a long time that’s for sure. This one’s for my dad. Got a great crowd, I got a ton of fans. This is my first win since my dad passed away. That was special. Awesome night.”
In the feature, Haers started from the eighth starting spot for the 40-lap feature and made no making his way up. On lap four in the second set of corners running third, Haers made a mad dash top shelf and got by Jimmy Maier and Torrey Stoughtenger to hold the lead for a while.
Haers though, nearly cost himself a victory in the final laps. With 11 laps to go, Haers ran over some spilled water in turn 1, driving over the banking of Paul Cole’s clay and falling back to second as Erick Rudolph passed him. Before they crossed the start/finish line, the yellow flew for the disabled machines of Matt Farnham and Robbie Johnston. Because scoring reverts to the previous lap completed, Haers would remain in the lead.
“Somebody spilled water up there (turn 1) on the track and I went flying off and I’m like ‘oh my God, I can’t believe I just gave this thing away’, then the yellow came out and he was riding with me,” Haers said in victory lane.
Haers explained a little more to RPW post-race.
“I was hitting my marks pretty good. I went in there that lap and I don’t know if the guy was blowing up and put water up there where I was running. It almost seemed like that’s what it was. I was just flying off the track. I got back on and I see him (Rudolph) get by me. The man upstairs was looking out for me, that’s for sure to get me that yellow and I said ‘man I can’t mess this thing up’. Then after you do that, you just start not driving as hard. Sometime, the softer you drive the car the more it gets the push. It all worked out. We had a great racecar.”
The celebration thought was a sight for sore eyes not just in victory lane, but on social media. Justin Haers runs a Facebook group dedicated to his racing career. The Justin Haers Fan Page immediately blew up.
Comments included “Finally!!”, “Your dad would be proud”, “From this moment you killed it!”, among others.
10 posts, over a thousand reacts, and 152 comments. Haers definitely has a big fan base behind him.
Once “T-Bone” got back to the pits, he received a celebration a lot similar to Dale Earnhardt winning the Daytona 500 or Helio Castroneves winning his fourth Indy 500.
Tim Fuller came over, but it wasn’t just him.
“I try not to make any enemies in the pits, and I come down through (the pit gate) and everybody came out of the trailer to congratulate me. That’s awesome. I got my fans up in the stands there. They stop by my trailer every week to say ‘we’re pulling for you!’ I’ve got a lot of great fans, great family, and great supporters of the team in the #3 car”
Haers’ trailer is parked just outside the pit gate that separates general admission from the pits, so anyone can come by and watch his team work on the car.