Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – DUNDEE, NY – “What a confidence boost! That’s definitely what our team needed!”
That may be the perfect quote for the near perfect night Brett Haas and his Primetime Racing team had Tuesday evening during the Short Track Super Series event at Outlaw Speedway.
It’s probably what also made the long haul back to their Pittsfield, MA race shop much more enjoyable.
Haas had, what many could say, was the best race he’s had on Brett Deyo’s tour since joining the series last season. Finishing fourth in the 50-lap main event behind three legends of the sport, Matt Sheppard, Stewart Friesen and Billy Decker, is huge for a driver who has less than three years of experience in Big Block competition.
“There’s no other way to explain it,” Haas said. “Everyone on the team is amped up right now. The four-hour ride home won’t be so bad now.”
The Dave Prime Mac Tools-sponsored #55 has struggled a bit to start the 2022 Short Track Super Series season. Through a multitude of minor issues and some flat out bad luck, the team hasn’t gotten the finishes they feel they deserved.
However, that hasn’t dampened their drive, and it showed at Outlaw.
“We needed a run like this,” he said. “This series has been so frustrating with the run of bad luck we’ve been having. To say tonight felt good would be an understatement. I’m happy we could get a finish like this for our team. They truly deserve it.”
Haas was on his game from the moment the car was unloaded Tuesday. He drew a good number for his heat and led nearly every lap, only being passed by eventual feature winner Sheppard on a last lap restart.
“We were able to take advantage of the draw and very nearly beat the best in the business,” he said. That felt good but it also proved we had a decent car for the rest of the night.”
Battling wheel-to-wheel with a driver like Matt Sheppard was a huge gauge as ti what type of equipment Haas had under him.
“I was excited to see Matt pull up beside me,” he said. “That really helped me determine how good we were, or where we needed to improve.”
Finishing second put the second-generation driver in the redraw for the feature. It also helped him parley an eighth place starting spot into a top five run in the main.
This was certainly a career-type night for Haas.
“I know, that with a lot of these longer distance races, I tend to get impatient and make mistakes,” he said. “Tonight, I did my best to be ‘patiently aggressive’ and tried to save my right rear tire, as best as I could, for the end of the race. It worked.”
Tire selection was key for 50-laps around the Dundee, NY track on this night. It would appear as if the Haas team made the right choice.
“To be honest, I really think we did,” he said. “On the last restart, I could tell the tire had given up. However, I think if we had gone with a harder compound, it would’ve hurt us more in the beginning of the race rather than help at the finish.”
While the team has a solid notebook to work from as to different adjustments they can make, on Tuesday, it was some assistance Haas received in the pits just before the feature that may have steered him towards the front.
“Randy Williamson (from Bicknell Racing Products) came over to our trailer before the main,” he said. “He pointed us in the right direction for what we needed to do to keep up with the track. That was a huge benefit for us tonight.”
How important is that, especially to a driver like Haas, who doesn’t have many laps on tracks like Outlaw Speedway? Even more so, how big is it that those suggestions are coming from his chassis builder?
“Randy is always a phone call or text away and is super responsive,” he said. “Having him physically at the track tonight to help us analyze our setup was irreplaceable.”
Williamson works with hundreds of drivers that drive Bicknell race cars throughout the year so he’s a wealth of knowledge. That came in very useful for Haas and his crew.
“His experience level helps expedite our learning curve at a lot of these tracks where I lack seat time,” he said. “With this series, you can’t be off much or you fall back like a lead balloon.”
Tuesday, Haas went towards the front.
“With a good handling car, you at least have a fighting chance against these guys,” he said. “Tonight, we were in the fight, and went the distance.”
Getting his best career finish on the Short Track Super Series Tuesday night at Outlaw Speedway helped validate everything Brett Haas and the Primetime Racing team have done since joining the Modified ranks. It proved they can compete with the best of the best.
However, it also will drive them even harder as they try to jump to the next rung on the ladder…beating the best.