By T.J. Buffenbarger
One of the biggest surprises so far during the 2019 Kings Royal came out of the Jokers Wild program on Thursday when third generation driver Sye Lynch from Apollo Pennsylvania timed in third fastest in his qualifying flight, finished second in his heat race, qualifying him for one of the two dashes to determine the first six rows of the feature event. Lynch’s standout performance in preliminary action was done with a team that was put together less than a week before Wednesday’s event at Eldora.
“People wouldn’t believe it, but this was literally put together about a week ago,” said Lynch after Thursday’s program was complete. “My uncle Chad Hill has been driving Mark Willman’s 305 car for the past year. They have very fast, safe cars. Mark wanted to get into the 410 atmosphere a just little bit and a couple of weeks ago he ended up purchasing a 410. He approached me with the interest of me running their car.”
With the support of his sponsors that support his effort in Western Pennsylvania on a weekly basis Lynch was able to bring his regular crew to turn wrenches on the Willman team at Eldora. All of this was done with a relatively modest effort.
“I hope it opened a lot of people’s eyes and shows you don’t need a multi-million dollar operation to be competitive,” Lynch stated while standing by the team’s modest pickup truck and trailer.
Lynch had plenty of exposure to Eldora Speedway over the years watching his father Ed Lynch circle the half mile oval. Even with watching all those laps there were several things he didn’t expect when taking to the Eldora’s high banks as a competitor for the first time.
“I watched my Dad race here ever since I was a baby,” said Lynch. “I was here every year for the Kings Royal, I was here every year for the All Star Shows, and I was here when he won the All Star show. From the grandstands this track is unique. It’s very fast, you can tell the speed from the grandstands, but when you put your butt in the car, I think the biggest thing I didn’t realize was the banking. The banking is much steeper than you would expect and the turns. It’s more of a sweeping turn and in the car, you really need to be prepared for that. In the setup I was a little bit off in what I expected the car to feel like.”
After taking his first competitive laps around Eldora on Wednesday Lynch and his team worked on getting used to racing at Eldora. Even with his success early in the night on Thursday Lynch was still adjusting to Eldora from the driver’s seat.
“Even last night the car was fast, but I didn’t feel comfortable, so we had to change some things and really the shocking thing is I really wasn’t that comfortable tonight either,” said Lynch. “I think the more seat time I get its going to come in key. The important days are coming up, so I hope that really helps the out come Saturday. It felt good for qualifying but this track changes so fast you have to change with it.”
Lynch didn’t have to go far to find advice from his father Ed who has one All Star Circuit of Champions victory at Eldora to his credit, but Lynch had other friends to pull advice from before his maiden Eldora voyage.
“Tim Shaffer gave me a couple of tips, Dale Blaney, I do have some friends here to bounce some ideas of but the biggest thing is you have to get comfortable as fast as possible and that’s the biggest thing,” said Lynch. “You can’t be competitive unless you are comfortable. That’s literally what everyone’s advice was. Just get as comfortable as you can in the seat and the speed will come and that’s what I was trying to do.”
For Lynch growing up watching his father along with family racing roots that go back to both his grandfathers and his uncle producing such a result during one of the biggest weekends of sprint car racing in the world was not lost on him.
“People couldn’t make this up. I watched it from the stands for 19-20 years and this is my first time ever (competing) here. Watched it on Dirtvision, played it on iRacing, I did everything you could do and then to get do the four-wide parade lap with the best of the best and nobody expects it, that’s big. Hopefully we can do it for Friday or Saturday.”