New Castle, Ind.—Feb. 24, 2013— After finishing 2012 on a very strong note, Tracy Hines was pretty optimistic heading into the 2013 sprint car season. He had formed his own team, built new cars all winter long and switched engines programs for this year as well. For the native of New Castle, Ind., all of that hard work paid big dividends as he opened the 2013 USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series campaign with a pair of wins in just his second and third starts of the season at Bubba Raceway Park in Florida, aboard his self-owned No. 4 Hansen’s Welding Inc./Motor City Transport DRC/Stanton Mopar.
The two victories for Hines marked the 44th and 45th of his career with the USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series, which ties him for third with Larry Dickson, a three-time series champion, on the series all-time win list. Hines is now just one behind Hall of Famer Jack Hewitt for second on the all-time list. For Hines, the wins were his first triumphs in a sprint car in Florida and his third overall USAC victory in the “Sunshine State,” adding to a victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the USAC Traxxas Silver Crown Series in 2007.
“To open the year with two wins is pretty amazing, especially knowing all of the work we put in during the off-season forming this team,” said Hines. “We changed our engine program this year and came out of the box pretty fast with the Stanton Mopar engines we have under the hood. Winning early in the season definitely pumps everyone up and gives us some confidence heading back north, knowing that we have a very good car and can contend night in and night out.”
In the finale of the three-night event at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., on Saturday, Feb. 23, Hines lined up on the outside of the front row and used a strong start to take the lead on the opening lap. He would go on to pace all 30 circuits, enduring a handful of cautions, including one on the initial start that led to a complete restart. Hines began the night by turning the fifth-fastest lap in time trials and followed that up with a runner-up finish in the first heat race to transfer to the 30-lap main event.
“The car was great all night long and it was my job to make sure it stayed in the lead,” he noted. “With how fast the track was tonight, starting position was important as well and we put ourselves in a good position in terms of where we started. Continuing to move up the USAC win list is pretty special and great motivation to keep working hard to make sure the car is fast every night, so we give ourselves a shot at more wins this year.”
Hines, the 2002 USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series champion, started fourth in the 30-lap main event on Friday, Feb. 22, at the three-eighths-mile and quickly moved into the second spot behind leader Robert Ballou. Hines worked on tracking down Ballou for most of the race and with two laps remaining was able to close in as the pair approached a slower machine. As they took the white flag, Hines dove under Ballou, who lost a tire going into turn one, to take the lead and ultimately the win. Hines opened the night by turning the fourth-fastest lap in time trials of the 29 drivers that took to the track. He came home third in the fourth eight-lap heat race to earn a spot in the 30-lap A-Feature.
“We were pretty fast right out of the box on Friday night and kept working on the car,” he noted. “Starting up front was a key, as well as being in the right place at the right time, but you always have to be fast as well to be in a position like that. I’ve been in the spot of leading on the last lap and having something happens as well, so it certainly takes a little luck as well as being fast to win these things. It always feels great to get that first win of the year under your belt.”
On the opening night of the Bubba Winternationals for the USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series on Thursday, Feb. 21, Hines finished 11th, working his way back from the tail of the field, after getting caught up in a four-car accident on the fourth lap. The veteran driver was 13th-fastest in time trials and finished third in the first heat race to transfer to the main event.
Hines, who is currently tied for third in points with the USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series, just seven markers out of the lead, returns to action with the series on Saturday, April 6 at Lawrenceburg Speedway in his home state of Indiana.
“We’ll head back to the shop and keep working hard as we prepare for the bulk of the season,” Hines shared. “It was a great start to the season and we showed what we are capable of and have a good foundation and baseline now to go off the rest of the year. I can’t wait to get to Lawrenceburg in April and climb back in the car.”
Tracy Hines Racing would like to thank: Hansen’s Welding Inc., Parker Machinery, Motor City Auto Transport, Turbines, Inc., Afco Racing Products, Daum Crop Insurance, Schoenfeld Headers, Allstar Performance, Kenny’s Components, Race Bumpers and Bell Racing.