From Richie Murray
INDIANAPOLIS (November 3, 2016) — In most stick and ball sports, segments of games are separated by quarters, periods or halves. Sometimes teams get off to a fast start. Although, on many occasions, halftime adjustments are needed to rectify the performance in the second half.
Without question, there’s no driver who’s had a better second half of the season than Chris Windom.
Though you can’t exactly characterize Windom’s first half as “slow” by any means, the early part of the season for the Canton, Illinois veteran wasn’t one that would immediately catch your eye.
Sure, there was his captivating performance at June’s “Horn-Schindler Memorial” Silver Crown 100-lapper at Pennsylvania’s Williams Grove Speedway in which he outdueled Bryan Clauson in a dramatic race that came down to the final lap, but it wasn’t until the conclusion of “Indiana Sprint Week” in which Windom truly hit his stride.
Since July 17th’s “Sprint Week” round at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track, Windom has gone on a consistent tear in which he’s rattled off finishes of 6th, 2nd, 6th, 3rd, 6th, 2nd, 2nd and 1st in eight points-paying sprint car races, a 4th in his lone USAC National Midget start and a 5th, 2nd, 1st and 1st on his way to capturing the 2016 USAC Silver Crown championship.
To put it plainly, Windom hasn’t finished outside of the top-six positions during a USAC Silver Crown, National Sprint or National Midget feature in three-and-a-half months!
On top of that, Windom was victorious in his only USAC Regional Midget appearance of the season at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway in October.
With an average finish of 3.15 over that span heading into this Friday and Saturday’s 49th annual “Western World Championships” on Nov. 4-5 at Queen Creek’s Arizona Speedway, Windom is simply at the top of his game right now.
Yet, the humble Windom is quick to attribute the results to more than just his driving ability. It all comes down to a combination of the dynamics between himself, his crew chief and the owner.
Since teaming up with the Fred Gormly/RPM Auto Enterprise team in mid-2015, the tandem has been nothing short of excellent, collecting a trio of victories this season at Williams Grove as well as the Du Quoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds and the “4-Crown Nationals” at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in which he blistered the field in a masterfully, dominating performance.
In May, the Baldwin Brothers reunited with Windom in order to recreate the magic of the 2011 season in which Windom came into his own, recording four USAC National Sprint Car wins during the season on his way to a second-place finish in the series points as well as claiming the “Indiana Sprint Week” title and sweeping a pair of races at Terre Haute and a prelim night in the “Oval Nationals” at California’s Perris Auto Speedway.
One of the key components that is crucial to determining the success of any race team is how the driver and his crew chief interact. After capturing a wealth of success with Derek Claxton and Evan Avart on the wrenches in past years, Windom’s rides this year returned to the hands of these two individuals, who have proven that the combination between the crew and driver can lead to extraordinary heights.
“Derek and I have always gelled well together and it just took a month or so to get back to where we were when we previously worked together,” Windom explained. “The same goes with Evan. We all have a lot of confidence in each other and you must have that with your crew chief and team. We show up to the track knowing we can win night-in and night-out.”
“We have worked with each other all summer trying different packages,” Windom continued. “Nothing major, but we just settled in on something we both found worked well and that’s where you want to be. When you can show up to the track and do the least amount of work throughout the night, it normally proves to be the best way.”
To be at the top of your field in any discipline, it takes a variety of pieces to create and maintain that magic. To achieve success with two different employers in three different types of racecars is another whole set of circumstances.
Windom persevered through the entire 2016 Silver Crown season without a single finish outside of the top-five, which was enough to dethrone two-time series champ Kody Swanson.
In the sprint car, Windom has recaptured his form to become one of the favorites each time he and the Baldwin No. 5 hit the track.
“I’m very thankful for the opportunities that I have to work with the best teams and crew chiefs,” Windom stated. “I don’t know if our success really has settled in for me yet as we are still kind of in full swing and looking to finish off strong out west. We are having a lot of fun right now and that goes hand in hand with success.”
“I think we see where we’re at right now with everything and want to end the year with our confidence high and not change much going into 2017,” Windom added. “Sometimes it seems you can forget and talk yourself into changing things over the course of the offseason, but we just need to stay on the same path we’re on and keep it rolling into next year.”
This year’s “Western World” also features complete shows each night for the USAC 360 Southwest Sprint Cars. Racing action unfolds this Friday and Saturday night, November 4th and 5th, 2016 with a pair of feature events completing each night’s program.
Pit gates open each day at 3pm. Front gates open at 4:30. Hot laps begin at 5:45 with racing set for 7 o’clock.
Grandstand admission Friday night is $20 for adults and $25 on Saturday. Children ages 7-12 are just $10 while children 6 and under are FREE! Two-day general admission tickets for adults are available for the discounted price of $40 and $15 for children ages 7-12.
If you can’t make it to Arizona Speedway this weekend, you can catch both nights of “Western World” action LIVE on http://www.speedshifttv.com/.