PORT ROYAL, Pa. – Zach Newlin’s sheer exhilaration lit up Port Royal Speedway on Saturday, the thrill of finally qualifying for a World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series event reverberating throughout the Juniata River Valley.
“Woooo!” Newlin screamed in an interview on the speedway’s frontstretch with DIRTVision’s Chase Raudman. “This is awesome!”
Newlin had just qualified for his first World of Outlaws feature thanks to a fourth-place heat finish.
An immediate interview wasn’t needed to discern the accomplishment. Newlin’s car owner, Allen Pryde, makes due with the bare minimum, used tires and an open trailer. Newlin, meanwhile, is a fresh face in the 410 sprint car world.
But once Newlin resounded his meaningful words, the story became that much more compelling.
“I don’t even have 20 races in the 410,” he continued. “Oh, man, I really hope Sean Burke is watching this … we started the year out rough. Got fired from one ride, then Allen called me up for this car. Man, one door closes and a really good one opens up.
“This is freaking awesome,” Newlin added. “I’m pumped.”
Newlin is the 2015 and ‘18 champion of the 305 Pennsylvania Sprint Series. At one point in his 305 journey from 2013 to ‘19, he was the third-ranked driver in the International Motor Contest Ass’n national points.
Last year he jumped to the 358 class and earned his first win at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Not long after, he broke into the 410 ranks with Sean Burke. In his second race – Port Royal’s Labor Day Classic last September – he finished 13th from the 23rd-starting spot and earned hard charger honors.
Newlin and Burke only cracked the top 20 three times in 15 races from last August to this June, and because of that the two parted ways.
“My mind wasn’t in a good place from the stuff I dealt with at the beginning of the year,” Newlin said. “Man, I feel good now.”
Newlin and Pryde linked up in September and have immediately put forth a viable product. In their second race out – also Port Royal’s Labor Day Classic – Newlin charged to a sixth-place finish from the 23rd-starting position.
Mid-race check in with @zachnewlin11z!— Kyle McFadden (@ByKyleMcFadden) October 9, 2021
If y’all are watching on @dirtvision, you’re well aware.
For those who aren’t, Newlin just put the shoestring-budget Allen Pryde No. 29 in the @WorldofOutlaws show at @PortRoyalSpdway.
Started P4, finished P4.
You got to love this. pic.twitter.com/uCG16TaHfP
On night one of the World of Outlaws Nittany Showdown on Friday, Newlin qualified last – 38th of 38 cars – and fell one spot short of the final transfer position in the Last Chance Showdown.
On Saturday, Newlin qualified seventh – within .126 seconds of Brad Sweet, Anthony Macri and Donny Schatz – and finished ahead of Danny Dietrich in his heat race.
“We just did what we needed to do,” said Newlin, who then walked over to the World of Outlaws trailer and learned where he was about to start in the 30-lap main event.
“Dude, I start next to Lance Dewease and behind Donny Schatz,” Newlin said. “It’s pretty simple: follow them and [expletive] learn!”
Sadly, Newlin’s thrill fizzled in the first corner of the race. He tried holding his line through the top side of turns one and two, not far behind Schatz, but enough room for Sheldon Haudenschild to slide in front and throw Newlin off course.
“It took the air right off the front end,” said Newlin, who subsequently smashed the wall and broke the right-rear w-link.
“[The nose] was up and I couldn’t steer,” Newlins said. “I tried to throttle out of it, and I couldn’t steer. I couldn’t get off the wall, it was like a magnet. Just a lack of experience unfortunately.”
Newlin limped around the half-mile clay oval for six laps and then parked it for the evening.
“I feel bad for not being able to perform better, but it’s also, like, bad ass because I went four-wide with the World of Outlaws,” Newlin said. “Before we went out, I was like, ‘Holy shit guys, what do I do? Do I go high or low?’ They were like, evens high, odds in.’
“We figured it out,” Newlin said.