Few drivers have won, let alone pursued multiple USAC National Rookie of the Year awards in a single season.
However, Trey Osborne is up for the challenge in 2024 as he plans full season runs with both the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship and the USAC Silver Crown National Championship.
The 20-year-old Columbus, Ohio racer will pilot the familiar Baldwin-Fox Racing orange No. 5 in numerous events on the USAC National Sprint Car tour throughout the coming season. In the races that the Baldwin-Fox car will not compete in, Osborne plans to fill in those dates on the trail behind the wheel of his own No. 6.
Furthermore, Osborne, who stands a towering 6’8” and regularly sports a visor reading “Tall” on his racecars, has been tabbed as the full-time driver of the BCR Group No. 81 for the complete USAC Silver Crown season on both dirt and pavement.
With a combined USAC slate consisting of 68 events at press time (54 Sprint and 14 Silver Crown), Osborne is ready to take on the busiest and the most hectic racing season of his career, more than doubling his usual yearly schedule.
“It’s going to be pretty huge,” Osborne acknowledges. “The most races I’ve ever ran in a season was like 35. To go from that to essentially running two whole USAC schedules is going to be pretty challenging, but I’m ready to go.”
Winning multiple USAC national Rookie of the Year awards in a single season isn’t unprecedented but remains relatively rare. In fact, it has occurred on just six occasions throughout the initial 68 years of competition, first by Kenny Jacobs (1986) and additionally by Darren Hagen (2005), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2007), Chad Boat (2008), Kyle Larson (2011) and Logan Seavey (2018).
Recently, Osborne made the move from his most recent residence in Indianapolis, Indiana to West Lafayette in the northern part of the Hoosier State where he now makes his living quarters in the basement of Ken and Margo Baldwin’s home while landing a day job at team co-owner Bob Fox’s construction company where he works, builds and maintains the business’ fleet of equipment.
It’s essentially the same as what Osborne was doing before, just in a new locale and with a race-friendly boss who allows him time off for his racing endeavors when those moments arise. The only change in Osborne’s eyes is that, as a newly-hired gun in the racing game, he now finds himself on an even bigger scale with more eyes and more expectations on him than ever before.
So far, Osborne has talked the talk and walked the walk. When he stated his preseason goal of winning three local Indiana sprint car races in 2023, he achieved it even though, at first, he thought he was a bit crazy in saying that, but he made it happen with a pair of victories at Paragon Speedway and another score at Gas City I-69 Speedway.
Similarly, in 2024, he’s set what he feels are attainable goals. As he enters the biggest racing venture of his young career, he’s set his own personal bar to what he believes is achievable in 2024.
“I want to consistently be able to contend,” Osborne stated. “I want to win at least three USAC races, whether that’s just Sprint Car or Silver Crown combined, I don’t care. I want to be competitive the whole season and get better at the larger tracks because I’ve never run these big racetracks. I’ve always competed on smaller tracks, but as long as I keep progressing and keep getting support from the people I have, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do that.”
In his lone run with Baldwin-Fox during the October 2023 unsanctioned Kokomo Klash, Osborne threw his familiar Triple X setup on the team’s DRC, and admittedly, it didn’t do well by his standards. Since then, Osborne has been working on measuring the differences between the two cars while working in-step with DRC’s Joe Devin, telling him how we wants the car to feel and to get a baseline setup heading into the series season openers in February in Florida.
Osborne noted that his own Triple X/Mopar and Baldwin-Fox’s DRC/Claxton require differing driving styles, and this year will present him the challenge of adapting back and forth between the two pieces of machinery.
Similar things can be said for Osborne’s Silver Crown exploits in the coming season as he learns the heavier and longer champ cars on both dirt and pavement in a pair of separate, purpose-built pieces for each surface courtesy of team owner Malcolm Lovelace and crew.
The all-Ohio team is based out of Springfield, roughly 45 minutes from Osborne’s original stomping grounds of Columbus. Late in 2023, the pairing made two starts, one on the dirt at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway and in the finale on the pavement of Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park where Osborne earned hard charger honors by advancing from 19th to 12th, serving notice that even when the chips are down, they can still succeed, laying the groundwork of confidence to achieve even better things lying ahead.
Osborne mentioned that the biggest thing Lovelace wants from him is to watch what the track is doing and try to continuously learn the driving side and just leave the car side of the equation up to Lovelace and his crew. Osborne did just that in his most recent Silver Crown outing.
“After a practice session (at IRP), I’d go, well, I was doing this wrong and I know it, but I kind of have to stop to reset and realize it,” Osborne recalled. “By the time I got to do that, I really just needed more time to be better for the race. Throughout the midsection of the race, my spotter told me I was running top-three lap times for a couple laps. I fell off toward the end, and realized I just need to remember to pay attention to where I’m lifting and where I’m braking on the pavement because I haven’t had to do that nearly as much on dirt just because everything changes so fast.”
Osborne will launch his 2024 USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship season with Winter Dirt Games XV at Ocala, Florida’s Bubba Raceway Park on February 9-10-15-16-17, plus two nights at Barberville, Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park on February 12-13.
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