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KNOXVILLE, Iowa (July 7, 2021) – Following a week that saw him compete in six races in eight days, Justin Henderson relished an opportunity to slow down a bit and refocus heading into the second half of the 2021 season with only one night of racing last weekend.
Henderson and the Mike Sandvig owned No. 7 team took full advantage of the breather and came back last Saturday refreshed, ready to rock as they led all 25 laps during Budweiser Salutes America Night at Knoxville Raceway for their first win of the season at ‘The Sprint Car Capital of the World.’
“To go back into Knoxville after that stretch of racing, it was just nice to get back to Knoxville and apply what we learned with a clear mind,” Henderson said. “We found a few things at Jackson we wanted to try and this was really the first time we were back on the same page in our half-mile program and man were we ever good.”
Henderson kicked the Fourth of July Weekend event off with fireworks by besting 25 other competitors in qualifying to earn the night’s Quick Time Award with a lap of 15.902 seconds. He then advanced three positions in a heat race to finish third.
It was then that Henderson had a premonition that a victory was in the cards. During the redraw he spotted a heads-up penny laying in the dirt of a fellow competitor’s pit stall and he went over and picked it up. He placed the penny in his pocket for good luck and it just so happened that the driver drew the zero for the feature inversion, which placed Henderson on the pole for the night’s A Main.
“We came out of the box quick time and I can honestly say I was surprised as we traditionally have struggled a bit in time trials at Knoxville,” he said. “We advanced forward in a tough heat and I just kind of felt like it was our race to lose. I saw that penny laying there and I just knew that the zero was coming out of the pill draw before it was ever drawn and we were going to win that race.”
Capitalizing on the front row starting spot, Henderson blasted out to the lead early on the high side of the track. Traffic came into play on Lap 9 and one lap later Henderson briefly relinquished the lead before the caution flew to put him back into the top spot. Not only did the caution give him back the lead, but it allowed Henderson to change lines on the track in clean air as the bottom was now the fast way around.
“I honestly think if we’d lost the lead there it was going to be tough to get back by him,” he said. “That caution flew at just the right time and allowed me to get in a better position and was a lifesaver for sure.”
With 15 laps to go, Henderson stayed glued to the bottom on the restart, but the win wouldn’t come with ease as the front nose wing broke a few laps later. However, nothing was going to prevent Henderson from ending the night in Victory Lane as he held on for his third victory of the season and his 12th career win at Knoxville Raceway.
“The nose wing was folded back and we had about half the race left and I was just trying to stay focused on the task ahead,” he said. “I pulled the top wing forward a bit and just tried to stay glued to the bottom. I was surprised nobody passed us, but that just shows how fast we were and that it was our night to shine.”
Next up for Henderson and Sandvig will be a two-race weekend as they’ll return to Knoxville Raceway on Saturday for another weekly show before joining the Northern Outlaw Sprint Association at Huset’s Speedway in Brandon, S.D., on Sunday night. Henderson and Sandvig enter the weekend ranked second in the championship standings at both tracks.
“The goal is to capitalize on the speed and results and stay consistent with our program and being fast week in and week out,” he said. “We want to win both championships and this an opportunity to further hone in on those goals. I expect to be up front all weekend and if we do our part I feel confident in our chances at both tracks.”
QUICK RESULTS –
July 3 – Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa – Qualifying: 1; Heat race: 3 (6); Feature: 1 (1).
SEASON STATS –
27 races, 3 wins, 10 top fives, 14 top 10s, 19 top 15s, 24 top 20s
UP NEXT –
Saturday at Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa, and Sunday at Huset’s Speedway in Brandon, S.D. with the Northern Outlaw Sprint Association
MEDIA LINKS –
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“We can’t do this without great partners and Shure Built Suspensions provides us the absolute best in terms of FK Skocks,” Henderson said. “I’m grateful for their support and would recommend them to anybody looking.”
Sandvig would also like to thank Morton Buildings, Powersports.com, Mamma’s Pizza of Wellsville, Emory Transmission, Eszlinger Electric, DeBerg Flooring, R2 Enterprise, Winters Performance, Schoenfeld Headers, BK Racing TI Components, GRP Motorsports, Wings Unlimited, Keizer Aluminum Wheels, Rider Racing Engines, Hinchman Racewear, Heartland Kitchen Solutions, Triple X Race Co., Boji Custom Metal Works and Simpson Race Products for their continued support.