One might think that DIRTcar Sportsman driver Gary Lindberg, with an impressive six wins at the New Humberstone Speedway this season, would have a virtual lock on the track championship with just two weeks remaining in the schedule.
But Lindberg left the door open following a pair of crashes in the same race two weeks ago at the Port Colborne, Ont., dirt track. Now he knows that he has much more work to do to bring the title home.
In the Aug. 11 event, “I had to come from the back of the pack twice in the race but I was able to get back up and finish sixth in the 25-lapper,” Lindberg said. “The problem is that Greg Panunte, who is second in points, finished second in the race.”
Lindberg enhanced his chances this last Sunday at New Humberstone when he placed third in the feature race, stretching his points lead to a margin of 594-562 over Panunte.
No matter the points outcome, Lindberg, 31, of Ridgeway, Ont., has had a great season north of the border.
Lindberg also leads the points at Merrittville Speedway, emerging victorious there once this season. Merrittville also has two races left in its 2013 campaign.
“Things have been going really good this season, at Humberstone especially,” Lindberg said. “My car and that track get along real good.
“To win six races there — including the biggest race they run there each year, the All-Canadian Championship race — is pretty cool. A lot of people have tried to win the All-Canadian and the fact that I’ve done it is cool.”
Lindberg also has won at the Oshweken (Ont.) Speedway, in his lone appearance there this season.
Lindberg began racing at age 16, driving the vintage stock care of his dad, Denny Lindberg, in special anniversary races on the average of about once a year for four or five years.
When the family got out of vintage stock car racing, Gary Lindberg was inactive as a driver for several seasons before emerging back behind the wheel in late 2010.
“I bought a Sportsman car from the Willard family late in the 2010 season and did a partial year with that car,” he said.
“I raced full time the last three seasons, including this season. After 2011, I sold the Sportsman car to Tommy Flannigan and I bought a used 2011 Bicknell Sportsman car that I am racing now.”
Lindberg placed fourth last Saturday night at Merrittville after starting 12th.
He knows that due to the handicapping system employed at both New Humberstone and Merrittville, he will have a huge challenge each week starting deep in the pack.
At both tracks, drivers who have won the most purse money over the last three most recent races are handicapped to the middle of the pack to start the feature races.
“I think that unless something unusual happens I will be starting the last few feature races this season no better than 16th at Humberstone and 12th at Merrittville,” Lindberg said. “I will have to pass a lot of cars to try to win or get a high points finish.”
Lindberg also competed last October in Super DIRT Week activity at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse and won the DIRTcar Sportsman Futures race, designed for competitors who have never raced on the large one-mile fairgrounds oval track before.
In the actual DIRTcar Sportsman 30 at Super DIRT Week he qualified a strong third before fading to 11th place in the 30-lap contest.
While Lindberg will compete in some Super DIRTcar Sportsman Series events this fall, his status of racing at Syracuse in October remains unknown.
It depends on budget and other considerations.
“We’ll see how things go,” Lindberg said. “My wife, Krista, and I are expecting our first child Jan. 1, so that is the most important thing right now.”
Lindberg is most grateful to his team that works on his “He’s Not Here Bar & Grill” sponsored car including his brother and crew chief Paul Lindberg along with Bill Heerschap, Dan Cook and Joe Muro.
The hope is that Gary Lindberg will begin the fatherhood stage of his life in the next few months as a two-track 2013 Sportsman champion.