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Logan Henson: Racing in his blood

First Gear

Posted: February 14, 2009 1:27 a.m.
Updated: February 14, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

Logan Henson says racing in his blood.

He is a third-generation stock car driver whose grandfather raced at Saugus Speedway. His uncle won a track championship at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield and his dad was a crew chief for Jim Robinson in the old NASCAR Winston West Series.

Henson is the one behind the wheel these days, his dad long since retired from leading pit crews and race teams, his uncle’s best racing days behind him.

These days, the Hensons work on Logan’s car.

Lanny, Logan’s dad, helps with the set-up on the car in the family’s garage in Valencia.

His Uncle Rob can be found in the pits at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on Saturday nights during the race season to offer his nephew any tips or advice.

Dad and uncle are more advisors than crew members, but their experience and guidance have kept Logan out of trouble for his four years of racing at Irwindale.

Even though Logan has a strong foundation in stock car racing, he would not turn down the chance to race off-road trucks, sports cars or USAC open-wheel race cars, anything that would let him pursue a career in auto racing.

“I’m happy where I’m at now, but, all in all, I don’t expect to get to Cup racing, but I’d like to make a living in auto racing,” Logan Henson said. “No matter if it’s off-road truck or SCCA (Sports Car Club of America), I’d like to make a living racing cars.”

The 22-year-old Logan Henson is entering his second season of racing in the highly competitive NASCAR Late Model division at Irwindale.

He finished 18th in the Late Model standings last year and his best finish in a race was seventh place.

He got his start racing in the NASCAR Super Trucks division at Irwindale three years ago.

Before that, he was a go-kart racer, winning a track championship at Saugus Speedway in 2001.

He estimates he’s won 10 regional go-kart races before making the move to NASCAR and stock car racing at Irwindale.

He started racing go-karts when he was 12.

By chance, when his family moved to Santa Clarita, they became neighbors to the Carmody family.

Chris Carmody raced at Irwindale two years ago in the Late Model division.

Before that, the Carmody family was dedicated to go-kart racing and the Hensons soon began going to races with the Carmodys.

“I was hanging out with them, they used to live right up the street,” said Henson, who graduated from Valencia High School in 2005. “I used to go to the track with them. I used to get bored, I would fall asleep, and I decided to finally get into racing myself. Started at Saugus, then at Willow Springs, and I had a knack for it.”

When he graduated from high school, Henson started racing trucks at Irwindale.

He won one race and finished third in the Super Trucks standings in 2007 despite missing the opening night race. After three years of racing in the Super Trucks division, he moved up to Late Models. He bought a car from Race Car Factory and started 14 of the 18 races last year. There were times he was the driver, mechanic and crew chief for his own race team.

His plans for 2009 are a little different. He has a new motor for his car and a new crew chief. His expectations are much loftier than they have been in the past.

“I’d like to see a couple of top five finishes, most likely podium finishes,” Henson said. Got a new motor in the car this year, so we picked up some horsepower. New crew chief coming aboard that should help out on the tuning aspect of it.”
 
Things were looking up for Valencia’s Connor Cantrell.

After winning six races in the NASCAR Super Trucks division at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale last year, he was ready to move up the ranks of stock car racing.

Cantrell worked out a deal to drive for MRD Motorsports, which runs in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He was ready to move to North Carolina and leave Valencia High School before completing his senior year to start his NASCAR career in a national touring series.

He was set to run 11 Truck Series races and mix in a couple ARCA Series races. But when a key sponsor pulled out of the deal, Cantrell was left without a ride and in stock car racing limbo.

“We’re looking for anyone in the hopes to find that person willing to sponsor us,” Cantrell said. “If we can’t find a sponsor, we probably won’t be racing.”

The options are limited for Cantrell. He has his truck and a late model car that he raced at Irwindale last year. Both are for sale, but Cantrell has had little luck finding any takers, even for a truck that won the most races in the Super Trucks division last year.

Cantrell said if he is left with no other choice, he would go back to racing at Irwindale. But he doesn’t think he has much left to prove there.

“I would like to go to Irwindale if there’s no luck in NASCAR, but I really want to move on,” Cantrell said. “There’s no point. I got to keep moving up.”

Dave Malcolmson, the owner of MRD Motorsports, said he likes what he sees in Cantrell as a driver. He had a deal to give Cantrell a shot to race with the “elite” of NASCAR. But the deal for Cantrell fell through.

“This kid is good and we’d like to move him up,” Malcolmson said. “We’re moving up to a higher level and we’d like to see him move with us.”

MRD Motorsports has been involved in the Truck Series for the past eight years. Chad McCumbee was the team’s driver last year. The team was going to run a limited Truck Series schedule this year.

“We do not have a sponsor to run the whole series,” Malcolmson said.
 
Ron Hornaday Jr., a former Saugus Speedway champ, is preparing for the season opening NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway in Florida tonight.

Hornaday is the career leader in Truck Series wins, but he has never won a race at Daytona. He was not a huge fan of racing trucks at the high-banked Daytona superspeedway, but when he got the opportunity to race one of Rick Hendrick’s trucks at Daytona, he changed his mind.

“First of all, when the trucks first came here, I didn’t get a chance to run it,” said Hornaday, who now races for Kevin Harvick Inc., in the No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado. “When I heard they were coming down I thought they were nuts. I thought NASCAR did the stupidest thing they ever did with trucks.”

Hornaday had to wait a year before he could actually get on the Daytona track in a race truck. When he did, it changed his perspective.

“What we’re doing today with testing and these new valences on the front is just remarkable of what these trucks do on big tracks,” Hornaday said. “I’m just really fortunate enough to run a truck here at Daytona.”

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