SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Tracy Hines shies away from talk of his inclusion among the greats in USAC racing history.
The New Castle, Ind., veteran has amassed some of the most staggering statistics in the organization’s annals dating back to 1956, but he is still focused on the present.
“I’m kind of a live-in-the moment, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately guy, and lately my last runs in a sprint car were ninth at Perris,” Hines said recently. “I know what the Achilles heel of our program is, and that’s our short-track stuff, so our goal is to turn that around this year. We’ve been able to take some steps in the offseason to hopefully get us better there and give us a chance to win more races.”
Hines’ self-run team is even more ready to take on the challenging schedule in 2014, after adding partners in the off-season and strengthening his full-time crew. The team continues to utilize DRC Chassis along with Stanton Racing Engines.
“The biggest thing is our new partner, The Carolina Nut Company, coming on board as our primary sponsor,” Hines said. “Between that and the support of our returning and other new sponsors, we were able to make some upgrades. We added Taylor Courtney as a full-time employee. We completed another car to start the year, and we found some powerplants that we believe will put us in the hunt, week in and week out. We bought some Chevys for this year and Stanton will still do all our engine work.”
Hines led off last season at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., with two wins in three races. From there, however, he was unable to visit victory lane again.
Entering this season, the 41-year-old ranks fourth on the all-time USAC National sprint car victory list with 45 triumphs. That puts him one behind the legendary Jack Hewitt and seven behind leader Tom Bigelow (52). Dave Darland, who put together a streak of wins last season, is second with 47 wins.
“There wasn’t much pressure to catch those guys until Dave passed me and that frankly got me pissed off,” Hines joked. “So now I gotta get on a hot streak like he got on. That’s why we’re gearing up to go out and win some races. We’re as prepared as we can be to go do it, so we gotta give it our best shot to go do that this year.”
The season kicks off Feb. 20-22 at Bubba Raceway Park.
“I’m not sure I should go down and win this year, after I won there last year and didn’t win any more. Maybe I wanna run second all three nights,” Hines quipped. “We had a good combination last year, and caught things just right those two nights. Florida is a slightly different animal. Usually, you’re trying to hook up to a mostly sand base, but he’s added some clay, both last year and this year. We’ll just have to see how that’s changed.”