The Wheelman Racing Series returns to action Saturday at the 4-17 Southern Speedway in Florida. The wedge-bodied Sportsman touring series had taken part in two of the scheduled races at New Smyrna Speedway and Citrus County Speedway, with Jesse Henley winning the season opener.
The 2018 Wheel Man Sportsman Series champion was a guest on Wednesday’s “The Bullring” in advance of Saturday’s race at 4-17 Southern. He finds himself towards the top of the series standings after a win and a fifth in two races. The pandemic has put many things in perspective for the Homosassa, Florida driver, both in and out of racing.
“I’m looking forward to the rubber, the fumes, the entire environment. You don’t really realize how much you miss this stuff until it’s gone, and I think that’s one thing this pandemic has done,” Henley said. “It has put us back into a mindset and hopefully tempers won’t be as bad and we can enjoy what we love to do.”
The competitors of the Wheelman Series will see a whole new 4-17 Southern Speedway when they arrive in Punta Gorda, Florida on Saturday. The track surface underwent some changes during the offseason, which in turn has made the track much quicker than it was during the 2019 season.
“At the beginning it will be pretty side-by-side, at the end of last year they coated the track with whatever and it has a lot more grip. I’m hearing most cars are three to four-tenths faster now than the last time we were there, that was before the pandemic when it was cooler so it may be a little slower than that.”
The new surface has thrown Henley into a loop preparing for Saturday’s event. With warmer temperatures now than early in the year paired with the uncertainty of what the track will throw at him, his approach to 4-17 Southern remains the same as it always has.
“You can maybe do a couple things but for the most part, with how hot it’s getting now I think you’re better off sticking to your baseline and getting to the track, do your homework and tire temps, that sort of thing, figure out where you need to be and what you need to do to adjust that for the changes and make the car as best as we can.”
More than two months removed from the most recent Wheel Man race at Citrus County Speedway, Saturday can’t come quick enough for the series’ winningest driver.
“At the beginning of this it was a nice little break from racing, but that only lasts a week or two. Now we’re itching to get back. Very excited to get back in the seat and see if we can pull out another win.”
Fans unable to make it to 4-17 Southern Speedway for Saturday’s Wheelman Racing Series, as well as the other divisions in action, can watch it live on Speed51 as a premium subscriber. Click here to subscribe today.
Watch a replay of Wednesday’s episode of “The Bullring” by clicking here.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51