Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – Jimmy Phelps had a strong Eastern States Weekend with his HBR #98 team and Sunday’s podium finish proved it.
Phelps, who locked into the top six in time trials on Friday afternoon, was a mainstay in the top five all day long in the 200-lapper and drive to a fine third place finish when the race was completed.
“We had a good car all weekend here,” Phelps said. “I have to thank my guys. We didn’t have to take too big of a swing at it. This car came off the truck really good.”
Anticipation on how a track surface will be is a key factor for any team to be successful when they are working on set-up. Sunday, the HBR team hit the nail on the head for Phelps.
“The track kind of shined up and did what we thought it would do,” he said. “Matt and Stewart are tough so to finish third to them is nothing to hang our heads about. We just need to keep digging and try a little harder to get faster. Hopefully, we’ll be able to mix it up with them.”
With those track conditions being the way they were, the inside line was the place to be as the race progressed. Phelps’ car was no exception and he was grateful for how well his car handled so he could maneuver where he needed to.
“Fortunately, the car was good enough that we could roll up a couple feet and still have really good grip,” he said. “We weren’t down there in the mud trying to grab onto it.”
Was there any time during the race that Phelps felt a little on edge?
“The track was definitely sensitive to temperature so the restarts got a little hairy every now and then,” he said. “You never knew what you were going to have when you got to turn one. However, after three our four laps, things would cycle back in and you could get racing again.”
With being an invader to the Hard Clay, Phelps was excited by how well his car ran all weekend and feels like they’re on to something.
“I’m psyched at how good this thing was all weekend,” he said. “We don’t run here too much lately so to come in here and grab a third with these two, I’ll take that all day.”