ABBOTTSTOWN, Pa. – Chad Trout knew the feeling all too well. It had been a thorn in his side for as long as he could recall, and his mechanic, Brandon Weibley, understood Trout’s struggle.
“Dude, just relax and have fun,” Weibley told Trout, just days after another mid-pack performance on May 25 at Lincoln Speedway.
Trout’s nerves brimmed heading into Saturday’s race at Lincoln, and understandably so. He had finishes of 20th, 24th, 22nd, ninth and seventh through five races at the track in 2020.
But the sixth race had a different plot line. Trout took Weibley’s words to heart, enabling him to lead all 30 laps from the pole Saturday for his first win in more than 11 months.
“It was just a big relief,” Trout said in a phone interview earlier this week. “The first race back [after the two-and-a-half month shutdown due to COVID-19], my nerves were bad. I’m a very nervous person. I was like, ‘Man, I have butterflies.’”
Trout released the butterflies Saturday night and oozed relief in victory lane, the first time he relished a moment there since his monumental Pennsylvania Speedweek victory at the track on June 29 of last year.
More importantly, though, he enjoyed himself again, something Weibley nudged him to do.
Trout then recalled the rest of that conversation between himself and Weibley.
“He told me, ‘I know you’re frustrated. I can tell you’re frustrated. I can tell you’re not enjoying it. You have to give me 100 percent. We’ll figure it out. We’ll get to where we need to be. I just need you to have fun.’”
Trout is hard on himself because he knows routine results are feasible. In 2018, he finished runner-up in the Lincoln Speedway track championship chase and despite “struggling toward the end of last year,” in his words, he managed to finish third in the track standings.
“I put pressure on myself, because the last two or three years, we did really good,” Trout said. “And I expect that. I expect to be better and to do well.
“When you get in a slump and people come up and ask you, ‘What’s going on?’ You don’t really have an answer,” Trout added. “So, you point at yourself. I know my equipment is good. It’s just we [couldn’t] put things together. And then you get down on yourself. It’s a very mental and mentally frustrating sport.”
– The weeks leading up to racing’s return also took its toll on Trout, who is a maintenance worker at WellSpan Health – a large integrated health care system headquartered in York, Pa. – and at the forefront at helping battle COVID-19.
Trout helped build 55 COVID-19 testing booths that were dispensed across York and Adams Counties, toiling 50-hour work weeks all while trying to move into his new home in Thomasville, Pa.
“When everybody was getting laid off, we were actually working overtime,” said Trout, who then added his job hasn’t changed much during COVID-19 outside of long hours, wearing a mask, and getting temperature checks.
“It really hasn’t changed much,” Trout said. “I tell people all the time, on a daily basis I can see people going up and down the hallway, or up and down the elevator, who are in very bad shape. I look at life differently than a lot of people do. I’m just very fortunate.”
– In addition to a fresh living space, Trout and his wife, Jessica Hershey, frantically finished a new race shop on the same property he now calls home.
Trout’s new race shop, under Randy Ware Racing, is roughly three times larger than the original and overall suits Trout with resources and convenience.
“It was a big relief to build the shop,” Trout said. “I don’t have to get home from work, eat, and then run somewhere else three days a week. She can walk out and see me. I don’t have to drive home late at night.”
“And we finally put a whole night together,” Trout added. “It’s just been a big relief.”
– After totaling just two podium finishes in more than 40 races in 2019, Steve Buckwalter has already matched that mark since the return to racing in Central Pennsylvania last Monday.
On May 25, in Central Pennsylvania’s first race in over two and a half months due to the COVID-19 shutdown, Buckwalter finished as the runner-up at Lincoln Speedway.
The following Sunday, he brought home his No. 17b in third at Selinsgrove for his second podium finish over the past three races.
The other finish was a sixth-place run Saturday night at Lincoln Speedway.
– After placing 12th in their first race as full-timer with the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions, Danny Dietrich and his No. 48 Gary Kauffman team strung together a third-place effort in the second of two races at Park Jefferson Int’l Speedway.
It’s a positive sign for Dietrich, as the true determinant of success in the cutthroat world of touring sprint car series’ often lies in how a team retains information and adjusts on the fly.
Dietrich currently sits tied for fourth in the ASCoC standings, just 26 points behind two-time reigning champion Aaron Reutzel, with a grueling nine-race schedule in 11 days approaching.