WEEDSPORT, N.Y. — official team release — Chris Seelman photo —
With a focus on continued improvement and progress, team owner Al Heinke and his Heinke-Baldwin Racing team unveiled the faces and names of their 2016 driver lineup on Monday.
The team, which has in the past fielded cars driven by Todd Burley, Alan Johnson, Erick Rudolph and four-time Super DIRTcar Series champion Matt Sheppard, looks to combine energy and experience for the upcoming racing season.
The reigning champions of the Super DIRTcar Series will field four drivers across three cars as they add the “Buckeye Bullet” Dave Blaney, “Mini Magic Shoes” Max McLaughlin and the “Thunder From Down Under” Peter Britten for 2016.
Former NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Mike McLaughlin will also join the squad, leading the No. 6H team as crew chief for son Max.
“We believe that all of the changes that have been made going into the 2016 racing season will create an environment of constant improvement,” said team manager Betsy Angelone. “We have a lot of work to do, but we are excited about the opportunities that we will create for ourselves, and look to 2016 to be another incredibly successful year. It will be “close quarters” at the HBR race shop, but we believe that the gains in knowledge and in the sharing of ideas will far outweigh the logistics challenges. 2016 will be an exciting year for HBR, and we can’t wait to hit the dirt.”
The team’s returning driver, Jimmy Phelps, is looking forward to sharing space with his new teammates, as he sees the tremendous benefits of sharing insight and perspective amongst all the members of the newly expanded team.
“I am excited about the direction of the team as we head into 2016,” said Phelps. “Peter has been like family, and is a hell of a racer, so it will be great for all of us to have him officially in our camp. I don’t know how you could not be excited to get to work with Dave Blaney and Mike McLaughlin. These guys are true legends, and their guidance will be invaluable. And what’s not to love about Max? This kid is the real deal, and most importantly he is a great kid. I truly believe he will be a huge star someday, and if I can help be a small part of that journey, I will be proud of that.”
“It’s the collaboration of these astute racing minds that we are most looking forward to” added Heinke. “The insights that we’ll share will help each driver to achieve his best performance- and we will work as a real team.”
Blaney and Britten will split the 2016 SDS races in the 18H, with new dad Peter finding himself closer to home as he races at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Saturday nights. Blaney will work around his World of Outlaws Sprint schedule to join HBR for a select number of SDS races, his participation adding new excitement to the Series.
When Blaney is racing, Britten will move to the crew chief position for him — working alongside fellow crew chief Kurt Wiegel as well as Phelps in the 98H. Britten’s mechanical skills will be well utilized as his driving role expands even further at HBR.
“It’s what I’ve dreamed about my whole racing career, so to get an opportunity like this is a dream come true,” said Britten. “It makes all the hard work and late nights to get to this point all worth it. And I can’t wait to get going on the next chapter of my career, which will have a different kind of challenge. Along with my driving, I get the chance to work with Jimmy, Dave, and Max from a crew chief’s point of view. We all want Jimmy to win the SDS Championship this year, and I will be doing whatever it takes to make that happen. Dave’s driving record speaks for itself and it will be a great learning experience to work side by side with him. It wasn’t all that long ago that I started my own Big Block journey. All of the experience at the HBR shop will help Max to become a consistent front runner, and that’s a priority too. It will be super to watch a young driver grow.”
Max McLaughlin, who impressed many at the Charlotte World Finals last fall with the “Pole Position Raceway Fast Time Award,” joins HBR with his Hall of Famer dad Mike as his Crew Chief. Max will run the Super Dirt Series and find himself wowing the crowds at Brewerton on Friday nights with teammate Phelps.
“I cannot wait to get to Weedsport,” McLaughlin said. “I have never been this fired up about anything, it is such an honor to drive for such an incredible team. It’s awesome that even with such a well prepared team, my dad will still be a really big part. Having my dad by my side is huge for me. HBR isn’t just a team, I feel like they are family and I think it is a perfect fit.”
Dave Blaney will take the wheel of the 18H for an estimated 10 SDS races. His level headed, disciplined racing style will add yet another interesting facet to the new HBR line up. Blaney exhibits a tenacity that enables him to get everything possible out of whatever he is driving, and he commands performance not only from himself, but from those around him. His 35 years in racing, which includes consistent high performance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and a championship with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series, positions him as an invaluable source of knowledge for HBR.
“I’m really excited to be part of HBR and to race part of the Super DIRTcar Series,” said Blaney. “I have a lot of respect for Al Heinke and would do anything to help his teams succeed. There are some tracks in the series this year I’m really looking forward to racing at and at the same time excited to race alongside Jimmy Phelps and Max McLaughlin. Working with Peter Britten on our car will be interesting. A lot of times the best crew chiefs also have a driving background. His experience driving Modifieds will undoubtedly help me get better.”
“I am pumped to be working with Dave Blaney — coming from Pennsylvania myself, his father Lou is one of my favorite drivers of all time,” added an enthusiastic Wiegel. “Having a young kid like Max in the organization that Jimmy, Dave and Peter can help bring along in racing will bring a fun element to the season. Mike and Max are great people, and having Peter in the shop will be awesome since we are so close and he is like a brother to me. It will be an exciting summer ahead.”
CREDIT: Heinke Baldwin Racing