In his 10th season of driving Gary Kauffman’s No. 48 car, Pennsylvania’s Danny Dietrich is one of the leading 410 sprint car winners in the country.
Dietrich and Kauffman are one of the longest-standing owner-driver combinations in all of sprint car racing, and the experience and longevity of the operation were on full display as the team enjoyed its best season this year.
Dietrich was very comfortable in a new Maxim chassis and his focus was better. He was more patient, saving his equipment to have a better race car at the end of features.
At the end of August, Dietrich was the leading 410 sprint car feature winner in the country with 14 visits to victory lane.
“I think overall it’s my best year,” Dietrich said. “Whether it’s my best money year, I don’t know yet. The season’s not over. The best money year was 2015. We won the National Open at the end of the year and a $10,000-to-win race at Susquehanna.”
Dietrich has been fast no matter where he raced this year, posting victories at seven different tracks including three outside of Central Pennsylvania.
With a fast race car and experienced crew, it didn’t matter where they showed up to race.
“Everybody’s got their jobs and everybody knows what to do on the race car, so I can focus on racing,” Dietrich said. “The communication with (crew chief) Jake Strignoli has been huge. My nephew coming to be the tire guy has taken a lot of pressure and time spent doing tires off of the two of us. We can more or less focus on the car and where I can hit my marks on the race track.”
Dietrich is more comfortable with everything and everyone around him this year. He believes those are some of the keys to his success.
“Jelling so well with the crew and Gary doesn’t put any pressure on us as a team. You’re able to roam around and race where you want to with confidence and I think that has a lot to do with it,” Dietrich explained.
The new Maxim chassis fits Dietrich’s driving style.
“I’m more comfortable this year with the taller cage,” Dietrich said. “I feel safer than I ever have and I have to thank Maxim for that. They went to bat and helped build a car that we worked on years ago. They made this thing work better and adjust for my likings and I think it shows.”
During the offseason, the 31-year-old from Gettysburg, Pa., made some personal improvements he believes have translated to the race track.
“After the first of the year, you set some goals, I think everybody does, and one of my goals was cutting back on some of the bad things you do in life,” Dietrich said. “Getting to the gym, getting in better shape, getting my mind a little better; I had some concussions and wasn’t thinking clearly the second half of the year last year.”
His mind is more clear this season.
“I quit drinking and got to the gym,” Dietrich said. “Not that drinking was a lot but sometimes you’re coming home you’re having three or four drinks, you don’t realize it, but if you can cut them out it makes a big impact on your mental performance. Getting to the gym and getting my physical health back. I think it all played into this.”
Dietrich has become a more patient driver, saving his equipment for the second half of races. This patience has helped him win some races.
“I think that’s part of thinking better and having your head on straight and being more focused on business and getting the job done rather than having a bad attitude or the wrong attitude going into a weekend,” Dietrich said.
Dietrich is one of the sport’s most outspoken drivers.
“I’m trying to grow up as a sprint car driver,” he said. “That’s kind of hard sometimes. You get a little hot-headed. Sometimes you have to be. You have to get your point across. You have to set an example, not just for yourself, but for all drivers. It isn’t always about standing up for me, it’s about standing up for us as teams whether you’re supporting sanctioning bodies or local race tracks.”