Tim Buckwalter is seeking to become the first repeat winner of the East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals when the fifth BELFOR Property Restoration sponsored event is held at the Mercer County, New Jersey’s CURE Insurance Arena on Friday and Saturday, February 23-24th.
“It was a ton of fun. I’m excited to get back to Trenton to see if I can pull it off again,” said Buckwalter by phone from Florida last Thursday. “It was a huge win for us last year. So much fun to win in front of a big crowd and really nice to take home a big $5,000 paycheck.”
While the talented Douglassville, PA racer has entered the event for wingless 600cc Sprints with great confidence, he knows the odds are stacked against him. Buckwalter finished fourth in the inaugural event in 2017, but 18th in both 2018 and 2020.
“I have a really good chance to be the first repeat winner. My experience pays off, especially having a lot of laps in those cars. Me running Indoors in general the last ten years also helps,” said Buckwalter.
“I understand things happen quick indoors and you have to look ahead a lot. I’ve just got to make sure all the cards play out right for us again. We need to start out strong on Friday. Once you’re in the show on Saturday, you know you have a chance to win.”
When Buckwalter spun out of a top five position in the 50-lap main event on Saturday on lap 12, he never gave up hope. He’s seen drivers come from the back before and knew it could be done.
“I got back to the front pretty quickly, but I wasn’t really sure where I was running when I got there. We ran so many laps without a yellow that we were always in lapped traffic. I tried to keep track of the guys that were up front when I got spun so I kinda knew where I was at.”
“It’s a long race and the track in Trenton changes so much. It’s so hard to pinpoint who will have the fastest car at the end. They might be fast for the first 10 laps, but then the track gets slick in areas,” said Buckwalter.
Buckwalter will be returning in the same Barry and Cheryl Greth owned No. 71 he drove to victory last year.
“I’m really spoiled driving for the Greth’s. They do all the work in advance, I just work on the car and do the tires at the track,” said Buckwalter.
“Anyone who doesn’t come is missing a ton. The excitement in the building is incredible. The format is changed this year with the addition of an A-Main on Friday, but those with those qualifiers before it was insane. There hasn’t been a boring one yet, they’ve all been exciting – no one has won from the front yet – I can tell you that.”
Saturday’s doors open at 4 PM with a special autograph session on the concourse at 5 PM for drivers already qualified for the A-Main. Racing action begins at 6 PM with alphabet soup transfer races. The twin E, D & C-Mains transfer the top four. The twin B Mains are each 15 laps with top seven in each joining the back half of the 24-car field that will take the A-Main green flag.
A schedule addition for 2024 finds a Friday night feature event scheduled among that day’s top performers. After four 16-car split field 15-lap qualifier races and a 20-car B-Main, a 24-car A-Main will be held for the first time at the event on Friday over 25 laps.
The top five finishers in Friday’s A-Main plus the top five drivers in points from the day not in those positions will lock into Saturday’s A-Main. At 6 PM on Friday, the grandstands open with racing starting at 7 PM.
Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com or indoorautoracing.com. Tickets are also available daily and the days of the event at the arena box office.
For those who cannot attend, the event will be available on DirtTrackDigest.TV Pay-Per-View for $64.99 for the weekend or $29.99 for Friday and $39.99 for Saturday.
For more information about the BELFOR Property Restorations East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals visit www.indoorautoracing.com
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