Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Knocking on the door.
That’s where Jack Lehner is when you talk about victory lane on the Super DIRTcar Series.
On multiple occasions, the Saratoga Springs, NY driver was in the hunt for his first ever Series victory. During two of those events, he was able to put his #2 Bicknell in the top five. Unfortunately, though, the opportunity to hold the checkered flag eluded him.
That desire is what drives Lehner to keep after it, battling some of the best drivers in the Northeast on some of the more technically grueling tracks around.
“We had a good year, I believe, in 2023 all-in-all,” Lehner said. “We were hoping for a little more towards the end of the year but it wasn’t meant to be.”
That hope was with good reason. Heading into the World Finals in Charlotte this past November, Lehner and his team were sitting sixth in points after scoring their first top 10 in the Big Block Championship during Super DIRT Week at the Oswego Speedway.
However, after three races which produced a best finish of 17th, Lehner slipped to seventh in the season-long standings. However, that wasn’t indicative of just how good of a season he had.
“Looking back, compared to the years we’ve had in the past, I think we came a long way this season,” he said. “To be in the top five a couple times with the caliber of drivers on the Series is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Those two top 5 finishes came during the dog days of summer, as Lehner caught fire during DIRTcar’s annual SummerFAST events. The “Ginga Ninga” scored a fifth on night one of the mini-tour at the D-Shaped Dirt Demon, the Brewerton Speedway.
He then did better in the following race, a third place showing at the Land of Legends Raceway.
“I felt really equal with Mike Mahaney (who finished second),” he said following the event last August. “I was hoping to get him in lapped traffic there at the end. It just seemed like (Matt) Sheppard was a little bit better through turn four but third’s always good on the tour.”
When the season was complete, Lehner had those two top 5’s and had eight top 10’s to go along with that. That type of momentum has the Albany-Saratoga Speedway weekly campaigner excited for what could be in 2024.
“We have an amazing team put together here,” he said. “Hopefully, we can keep working towards challenging the likes of Matt (Sheppard), (Mat) Williamson, Jimmy (Phelps) and all of the guys up front.”
Lehner’s 2024 DIRTcar season will in February at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals.
During last season’s trip to the Sunshine state, the #2 finished in the top 10 in all of the events and very nearly got a victory on the final night, getting passed late in the 50-lap main event by eventual winner Mat Williamson.