BRIDGEPORT, N.J. – Kerry Madsen inherited a number of unknowns when he joined Barshinger Racing over the winter.
The car failed to win last year with Lucas Wolfe, and this year, Madsen diverged from his usual national sprint car schedule to mainly run in central Pennsylvania.
On Tuesday at the reconfigured Bridgeport Motorsports Park, he raced to the all-important first win of his new career move in the 30-lap, $5,000-to-win Posse Invasion.
Madsen led the final 25 laps and held off Tim Shaffer in a one-lap dash to secure a 1.428-second victory.
“It’s kind of a big pressure relief, to be honest,” Madsen said in a phone interview. “We’ve had a couple good nights and a couple not-so-good nights. Everyone is just trying to get to know each other and figure everything out. I feel like tonight we put it all together.”
The pill-draw format in central Pennsylvania hadn’t been kind to Madsen, who capitalized on his first true time trial format in the Barshinger-owned No. 24 on Tuesday night.
In his first 14 races, Madsen started in the top five just once, when he started fourth on opening day at Port Royal Speedway and eventually finished second to Lance Dewease.
The high banks of Bridgeport played into Madsen’s wheelhouse, as he set fast time in qualifying to kick off the night with a lap of 13.243 seconds. He then locked himself into the six-lap dash when he transferred to the feature through his heat.
“We know we can qualify,” Madsen said. “We know we can race. This track is probably what I’m used to, anyway, compared to Port Royal and [Williams] Grove.”
Shaffer then looked like the car to beat, streaking to a four-second win in his heat from the fourth-starting spot. He accentuated that with a two-second victory in the dash to start first in the feature.
Madsen, however, started alongside Shaffer and stayed in his tracks the opening five laps.
While Shaffer motored around the very top of the wide, banked four-tenths-mile oval, Madsen pinned it around the bottom and made his move for the lead on lap six.
Noticing Shaffer was about to be hung up in traffic on the top, Madsen generated a run coming off turn four to take the top spot at the flag stand.
Shaffer countered immediately, rolling the top to nudge back in front as the two rounded the backstretch on lap seven.
But Madsen overtook the former Knoxville Nationals champion for good with a sweeping entry the following corner, narrowing a potential passing window around the top.
“At that point you just want to go as fast as you can and be on the right part of the racetrack,” Madsen said. “It felt like exactly what it needed to do. It drove really nice in the A-Main.”
A slow Anthony Fiore forced a one-lap dash, but that didn’t alter Madsen’s path to victory. Madsen got the jump he needed and Shaffer never had a chance to have one last shot at the win.
“I think tonight we did some standard things with race cars,” Madsen said. “I think now we know we have a good race car and know what to do. Now, we just need the feeling at other tracks.”
Anthony Macri finished third. Brent Marks and Ryan Smith completed the top five.
Kyle Reinhardt, Freddie Rahmer, Danny Dietrich, Tyler Ross, and Justin Peck rounded out the top 10.
Dietrich and Peck both recovered from respective setbacks on Tuesday. After qualifying seventh of 10 cars in his heat group, Dietrich tweeted he “whiffed” on the setup, then raced from 17th to finish eighth in the feature.
Peck, meanwhile, spun running fifth eight laps in. He tagged the rear and made his way back to 10th.
1. 24-Kerry Madsen, 2. 72-Tim Shaffer, 3. 39m-Anthony Macri, 4. 5m-Brent Marks, 5. 10x-Ryan Smith, 6. 91r-Kyle Reinhardt, 7. 51-Freddie Rahmer, 8. 48-Danny Dietrich, 9. 5-Tyler Ross, 10. 13-Justin Peck, 11. 37-J.J. Grasso, 12. 67-Justin Whittall, 13. 5w-Lucas Wolfe, 14. 11a-Austin Bishop, 15. 99-Kyle Moody, 16. 21-Matt Campbell, 17. 15b-Mark Bitner, 18. 85-Ricky Dieva, 19. 44b-Dave Brown, 20. 91-Anthony Fiore, 21. 8-Billy Dietrich, 22. 15-Lynton Jeffrey, 23. 39-Chase Dietz, 24. 47-Adam Carberry.