By T.J. Buffenbarger
(February 27, 2020) — Last fall Chase Ridenour’s career appeared at a crossroads. In late November Ridenour’s entire family owned operation was put up for sale and his driving future appeared in doubt. Thursday Ridenour announced he will make the transition from family employed driver to racing for Greg Wheeler’s during the 2020 season.
Securing the deal with Wheeler insures the 20-year-old driver from Perry, Michigan will continue his driving career after some uncertainty about finding a ride for the upcoming season.
“It was a relief. Opportunities to drive really nice equipment doesn’t come around very often,” said Ridenour. “Usually if you’re out of a car for a couple of years opportunities to drive again in the future becomes really difficult to come by.”
Ridenour and Wheeler plan on following the entire Great Lakes Super Sprint series with the possibility of running some selected winged 410 sprint car shows. Wheeler Mechanical, Doug Richard Well Drilling, Schoops Hamburgers, Buchanan Automotive, and Sterling Express will be supporting the effort. Long time Wheeler crew members Robert Flannigan and Don Wisniewski will be turning the wrenches.
Ridenour and Wheeler were slated to run a pair of shows together in 2019 at Plymouth Speedway and managed to get in three qualifying laps together before both programs were rained out. That combined with Ridenour and Wheeler sitting with each other at the GLSS banquet started the rumor mill flowing even though the deal was far from done.
“When we went to the GLSS banquet I sat down with Chase and the rumors started to fly,” said Wheeler. “I told everyone I didn’t know where these people are getting these ideas, but it turns out they were right. Then I was at the PRI show a couple of people asked me about Chase driving the car and I hadn’t decided, but now I have.”
Driving for Wheeler brings Ridenour’s racing career full circle. When Ridenour moved up from the 600cc micro sprint car ranks into winged sprint car racing in 2013 it was Wheeler’s race team that Ridenour’s family purchased to enter the full-size sprint car world.
“I was 14 when we purchased Wheeler’s team,” said Ridenour. “I’ve known Greg since then. We’ve stayed in contact with each other, but this year we’re going for it as a team owner and driver”
Wheeler has nothing but high praise for Ridenour and is optimistic about the upcoming season.
“Chase matured a lot and he’s a good racer,” said Wheeler. “We have some pretty good equipment; I think we’re going to do just fine.”