Mark Henry Makes Successful Usac/Cra Sprint Car Debut at the Bakersfield Speedway

Mark Henry had a successful beginning to his USAC/CRA 410 sprint car racing career last Saturday night at the Bakersfield Speedway.  Driving a brand new GAS Chassis, he achieved his goal of completing the 30-lap main event and rolling the car into the trailer.  To add some icing to the cake, his quickest lap in the main was better than six of his more experienced competitors.

Saturday’s race on the 78-year-old Kern County clay oval was not only Henry’s first race in a 410 sprint car but also his first race since competing in a lightning sprint in the Hangtown 100 at the Placerville Speedway last November.  The former drag racer began the night slowly by turning in the slowest time in hot laps but by the main event, he was starting to figure things out and was very racy for a newcomer.

The Rosamond, California racer ended up qualifying 19th in the 20-car field with a best lap of 14.712.  That was followed up by his initial USAC/CRA 10-lap heat race.  Starting at the rear of the seven-car field, he was running at the back when he spun on lap two.  He restarted the race and ran seventh.  On lap nine, two cars in front of him tangled bringing out a yellow flag.  Henry restarted in fifth with one lap to go.  He finished in the same spot by holding off the two more experienced drivers who had brought out the yellow.

When it came time to begin the 30-lap main event, Henry, in his #39R, was starting in the 19th position. He proved to be faster and racier from the outset, but an incident just before a red flag on lap 19 saw him head to the pit area.  Another car clobbered him damaging the left side nerf bar.  He went to the hot pit and the crew cut off the damaged part and sent him back out.  While in the hot pit, fellow sprint car racer Trent Williams, who was helping Henry in the pits, gave him some advice.

“With 11 laps to go, I got run over and had to go into the hot pit,” Henry explained.  “Trent told me I had to drive the car harder.  The last 11 laps were a lot better driving it the way he said.”

Starting at the back after he came out of the pits, Henry was definitely a different driver.  He drove it harder and it showed.  He moved forward to finish 15th.  His best lap of the race came with two laps to go.  It was a 15.514 and was better than six of his more experienced competitor’s best laps in the race.  It was a very impressive debut, but Henry expects more the next time out.

“I was definitely being very conservative being that it was my first race in it and coming off the flip in practice (a month earlier at Perris),” Henry continued.   “I kind of hung back and felt it out.  My main goal was to finish the race and I accomplished that.  I will drive the car a little more aggressively (next time).  You have to load the car and get the car working.  Towards the beginning of that race, I kind of drove it more like an asphalt car.  In the end, when I drove it harder, the car worked better.  So I won’t drive the car like a little girl like I was.  I definitely need to make the chassis work more.”

Henry’s next race is slated to be on July 15th at “The Southern California Home of Major League Sprint Car Racing,” Perris Auto Speedway.  He is doing some maintenance to get the car ready for the show.

“I believe so,” Henry responded when asked if the car would be ready.  “I have the engine apart right now.  Going to get the heads fixed on it and I have a couple stripped plug holes.  I am going to go through it and get it back together. Trent and I plan on testing the car a week before Perris to be ready for the race a week later.”

Henry is a breath of fresh air in sprint car racing.  His know-how and enthusiasm bode well for his progress in the sport.  His only sponsor at this time is GAS Chassis.  If you would like to be a marketing partner with this new, fan-friendly driver, feel free to call him at (661) 886-9027 or send him an email at mailto:[email protected].

Mark Henry PR