With Speedweeks just around the corner, Brett Hearn is focused on rebounding from what many would consider a subpar 2016 Super DIRTcar Series (SDS) season. Like he has for much of his racing career, the seven-time SDS champion will get a jump on the new season by traveling south to Volusia Speedway Park (FL) for the DIRTcar Nationals in February.
Hearn scored one DIRTcar Nationals victory at Volusia last year, but for the first time in more than 20 years he went winless in SDS competition.
The legendary Big-Block Modified driver known as “The Jet” admitted to being a little bit behind the competition when he arrived in central Florida in 2016. This year Hearn said he’s done a lot of homework and research to keep that from happening again. He also said he’s made a big addition to the team.
“I think the biggest thing that’s happened as far as our team is concerned is we were able to recapture our crew chief from two years ago, Steve Beckwith, which was an on-going thing,” Hearn explained on a teleconference Tuesday. “He finally got back into the shop in the beginning of January. So we’ve got our work to do. A lot of research, a lot of homework too when it’s all said and done.”
In 2015 Hearn scored two wins with Beckwith calling the shots. One year later, without the help of Beckwith, he went winless. Hearn said he believes having Beckwith back with the team will be a big help.
Another factor that Hearn is hoping will be a positive is the pending completion of a new race car. Hearn is hoping that the car will be ready before Volusia because he said he’d prefer testing out a new car in a non-points setting rather than at the first SDS race of 2017 at New York’s Fulton Speedway on April 29.
“There’s always the debate about whether you take a car that you feel comfortable with or go with something brand new,” Hearn said. “When we get back from Volusia our next race is probably going to be a points race. That’s the kind of race that I don’t want to really go to with an unknown car. I’d rather go down to Florida with one night of practice to get it sorted out and then see where we are. This car will be done, come hell or high water. If it wasn’t done I’d be really disappointed, but it’ll be done.”
Hearn scored his lone DIRTcar Nationals win last year on the final night of racing at Volusia, racing his way to the win from the 21st starting spot. He said the plan is to definitely work the bugs out of the new car (as long as it’s finished in time), but hopefully to pick up a couple more wins as well.
“Obviously we’d like to go down there and win three out of four races or heck even four out of four races. But we have a lot of things we want to try. Sometimes they pan out and sometimes they don’t. That’s what we want to try. That’s what it’s mostly all about. But if we can go down there and get a gator or two or three that would be great.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo