Nearly four months after he planned on debuting at Perris Auto Speedway, past junior dragster racer Mark Henry finally took his first competitive laps on the Riverside County track in the USAC/CRA Series Glenn Howard Classic. The rookie 410 sprint car driver started and finished 21st in his good-looking GAS Chassis #39R.
Not only was the race four months after he planned to make his Perris Auto Speedway debut, but it was more than three months since he competed in his first USAC/CRA race at the Bakersfield Speedway. Despite being out of the cockpit for so long and debuting at the track, the Rosamond, California driver did not look out of place.
After cutting his first laps at the track during the hot lap session, Henry turned in two laps in qualifying with the best being an 18.379. Not bad for a first-timer. That was the 21st fastest time in the field. He started at the back of his eight-car, 10-lap heat race and ended up finishing seventh. His best lap of the fast race was lap nine and it was close to his qualifying time when he got around the half-mile oval in 18.418.
Henry’s night would conclude in the 23-car, 30-lap main event on the famous Southern California clay oval. The young driver started 21st and was getting his laps in but could not avoid a car that had issues in front of him. The contact destroyed his front end and ended his night with a 21st-place finish.
“Seriously, coming back to that track after four months ago when I wrecked the car in practice, I really had high hopes to drive aggressively,” said the driver who plans to compete for the USAC/CRA Rookie of the Year in 2024. “I kind of let the nerves get the best of me. I could not shake out of it. I wasn’t comfortable in the car. Nothing felt right but obviously, I had been out of the car since the June race at Bakersfield.”
“It was in the back of my head that if I crash this car I am done for the season,” Henry stated when asked what made him uncomfortable. “It is coming out of my pocket (if he wrecked). Also, not being in the car as often as I want to be, every time I get in the car it feels new.”
“The car handled good,” Henry said of his two race old GAS Chassis. “It did exactly what Trent (crew chief Trent Williams) said it would do. I just needed to drive a little more aggressively to let the chassis and suspension work. I didn’t do much out there to let Trent tune on it to get it ready for the main. We were way too loose in the main.”
To be eligible to run for Rookie of the Year next season, Henry can only compete in four series mains. He has already been in two, so he has two remaining. He likes the Mohave Valley Raceway in Arizona and may hit that one on October 14th. He has left the door open to potentially run the final race of the year at Perris on November 11th. If possible, he would like to contest the two-night open competition show at the Imperial Valley Raceway on October 20th and 21st.
Henry is a breath of fresh air in sprint car racing. His knowledge 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].
Henry Racing PR
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