The end-of-year banquet that takes place at Knoxville Raceway after every season of racing is a night where the track hands out cash and contingency prizes to its drivers after a hard fought season.
For some teams, it’s an extra couple of parts they can use to upgrade their car here and there.
However, for Bobby Mincer, the Maxim Chassis that he and his team took home confirmed a move they’ve been wanting to make hoping it will pay off in 2020.
“I had been contemplating going back to Maxim before,” Mincer said. “We were lucky enough to be drawn for the Maxim Chassis Kit. That was huge for us. It’s a big deal for a small team.”
Bobby Mincer starts off ’20 with new ride
The move comes after three years of racing a Triple X chassis and will be a part of a complete transition to Maxim parts on the car.
The change had crew chief Dennis Gainey just as excited for the 2020 campaign.
“That’s the big thing,” Gainey said. “Maxim has supplied race parts to some of the best race cars out there. I’m excited to get my hands on it and see what we can do with it.”
The team is also switching to Factory Kahne shocks to suit the feel of Mincer a little bit more.
“I was on FK’s a couple years ago,” Mincer said. “I felt like I just felt good in the car with FK’s. Just a couple of small, little things. A lot of the times it’s in the drivers head too. If you’re comfortable with something and you make a change where you don’t feel comfortable after making a change, you always think, ‘well I was good on these… So, that’s part of it too, I just felt good on FK’s and wanted to go back to it.”
The chassis kit and the shocks, of course, doesn’t yield a completed race car.
Mincer and Gainey bought an ex-Joey Saldana Rudeen Motorsports car from Indy Race Parts over the off-season, one that they think could improve their speed tremendously.
That doesn’t mean it will all come together right off of the bat, though.
When the World of Outlaws come to town on Friday night, there will be some trial and error to figuring out the new setup.
“We have some things to figure out,” Mincer said. “But, what better time than now. You know, you get to race with the World of Outlaws, also. I’m just going to go into it with the attitude of trying to do the best we can and having fun doing it.”
The series returns to the track on Friday for its first race back since the COVID-19 cancellations started.
Along with the full time Outlaws entries, the top 20 finishers in the Knoxville points standings from 2019 qualified for the event, giving Mincer a spot.
“It’s pretty cool that I was on the list as one of the participants that could run it,” Mincer said. “For our small team, it’s pretty neat.”
The race is being tabbed as the World of Outlaws Invitational presented by McKay Group with Nationwide Insurance.
Thanks to the two sponsors as well as the series, the event will pay a full World of Outlaws-level purse of $10,000-to-win. That includes $800 to start in the A-Main of the event.
That’s quite the achievement, as no fans will be in attendance per state guidelines.
“I think it will feel a little bit different,” Mincer said. “For me, having our friends and family in the stands to watch what we do, is a big part of what we do. I’m sure it’s like that for a lot of guys, but I think when you’re in the car racing in the heat of the moment, I think it will be like another normal night.”
The crews at Knoxville will be limited to one driver and four crew members, which might cause problems for some big teams.
However, for the No. 15 car, it will be the fans that are missing, instead of the crew for the small team.
“With the race team that we are, the reason we do it is for our family and our friends to see us at the racetrack and all of the camaraderie that comes with it,” Gainey said. “I think doing it with no fans takes a little bit out of it, but I’m excited to at least get on the racetrack, because who knows, this might be our only opportunity to race this year.”
That’s just another obstacle that the global pandemic has put to teams.
It will be a tougher field than normal on Friday with the Outlaws being in town, but it could be something that Mincer’s team goes up against weekly.
“Everything with COVID-19 has changed a lot of the thought process on what I feel our goals are,” Gainey said. “Originally, my goal for us was to run in the top 10 in points at Knoxville this year, and I think we’re very capable of doing that. Another goal was to make every 410-weekly feature, and I think we’re very capable of that too.”
The team only failed to start in one feature race during the 2019 season and finished 16th in the series points standings.
“The only caveat to that is with COVID-19 and depending on which racetracks are being re-opened, I think we’re going to see an influx of very good, quality cars, because there’s nowhere else to race,” Gainey said.
Gainey added that that might temper the team’s goals, just a bit, as they face off against tougher competition.
That’s just the way things go in a team like this one.
“We just don’t race enough to be as competitive as we should be,” Gainey said. “Even the guys on top of the local shows are racing two-three times a week. We’re weekend racers. We have full-time careers. It’s basically just us. It makes it harder for us to get out and run even on Friday nights, because we have to take off work. We don’t get the opportunities to be as sharp as we should be.”
Although, the show will always go on, and the main goal will still be at the forefront.
The 15 team will do their best to run as fast as they can and have as much fun as they can, no matter if there are fans there to see it or not.
They’ll do their thing on Friday (6:30 p.m. Hot Laps, DirtVision.com).
“I know they might not be there to see it, but a huge thanks goes out to Shafer Construction, Denny Woodworth, Rexco Equipment Inc. and Batts Farms,” Gainey said. “We really couldn’t run without them and hopefully we can show them a lot of exposure on Friday.”