ABBOTTSTOWN, Pa. – Damage from a run-in with a lapped car Saturday at Lincoln Speedway foiled a potential first sprint car win in Central Pennsylvania for Hunter Schuerenberg.
The 31-year-old finished second at the three-eighths-mile track after leading much of the race with a broken left front shock, damaged front wing, and his legs doused with fuel from a leakage.
But as disappointing as the end result was, the Sikeston, Mo., native circled back to why he visited Pennsylvania in the first place.
This year, Schuerenberg is racing with the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions and to strengthen his run at the title he needs to get better in central Pennsylvania.
Of the 56 races on the series schedule, 15 are in Central Pennsylvania, an area Schuerenberg isn’t very familiar with in a winged sprint car.
So, Schuerenberg raced at Lincoln Speedway this past weekend. He’ll stay in Pennsylvania through at least the end of this week, too, racing at Port Royal and Williams Grove Speedways on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
“The biggest challenge, for me, is Pennsylvania,” Schuerenberg said in a phone interview Sunday. “Williams Grove and Port Royal, some of those places, I’m not as well versed at. That’s going to be my challenge, just feeling like we’re as competitive on these half miles as we expect to be on the short to intermediate stuff.”
His real work is needed at Williams Grove and Port Royal, two tracks that really don’t compare to any other throughout the country. Lincoln, on the other hand, is perhaps his strongest of the tracks in Central Pennsylvania.
Schuerenberg badly wanted his first win in Posse country on Saturday and did his all to manage his hurting race car down the stretch.
On lap six, he rammed into the back of a slowing Chad Trout, who tried to get off the racing surface before eventually warranting a caution.
That damaged Schurenberg’s front end, specifically breaking the left front shock, and limited what he could do over the final 23 laps.
“It’s hard to keep the front end down when you have no shock to keep it down,” Schuerenberg said.
He held on until four laps to go, when eventual winner Tim Shaffer blitzed Schuerenberg and took the lead for good. Overall, it was another good run for Schuerenberg, marking his third top-10 finish in five features this year.
Four of those races have been with the All Star Circuit of Champions or the World of Outlaws, as Schuerenberg is preparing for the challenge of hitting the road this year.
While he is a new face with the All Star Circuit of Champions, Schuerenberg isn’t new to traveling with a series. He’s spent a large portion of his racing life on the road with the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series since 2006.
Schuerenberg raced a true outlaw schedule last year.
“I’m excited,” Schuerenberg said. “I’m not a stranger to running for points. … I don’t think that’s going to be a huge adjustment for me.”
Schuerenberg also bought a motorhome so he and his wife, Jessica, as well as his three-year-old son, Wheelen, can travel as a family.
“It’s an opportunity to live our best life, like people say,” Schuerenberg said. “For me, it doesn’t have to be the Outlaws, or the All Stars or whatever. It’s just neat to get out and go do what we love and travel, and not feel like we have to go home.”
Schuerenberg feels he has grown a lot as a racer over the last year and is especially grateful to drive the Vermeer Motorsports No. 55. He is just one of many new faces on the All Star Circuit of Champions tour this season.
Even though the points opener isn’t until April 2 at Attica Raceway Park, the real work proceeds this weekend.
He’ll head into the next slate of races in Pennsylvania this weekend not aiming for any sort of redemption, but with the same, focused mindset he had before: log laps and bolster the notebook.
“You’re there to win, regardless of who’s there, or how many laps they have at the place,” Schuerenberg said. “You have to feel like you can go there and win. I feel like we can. At the same time, first and foremost, it’s about getting the most time on those race tracks before it actually counts.”