Inevitable may describe Sheldon Haudenschild’s potential success at the Ironman 55 presented by Festus Tourism Commission this year (Aug. 5-6).
Along with being the defending Ironman 55 champion, a two-time Ironman winner and having swept the Ironman weekend last year, the Wooster, OH driver is also having a career year.
Haudenschild and his NOS Energy Drink-sponsored Stenhouse Jr./Marshall Racing team are sitting in the top-four in points, with a shot at the title, and have collected eight wins before the halfway point of the 2022 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series season – tying their season-high win record.
He contributes that improvement to the ever-growing relationship between he and crew chief Kyle Ripper – who reunited with Haudenschild a few years ago.
“I think just getting time with me and Ripper and figuring out what we need as a package rolling into each night,” Haudenschild said. “I feel like we’ve got that. I feel like we have work to do at big tracks, just getting qualified well. Yeah, I think that’s a lot of it. I feel like if we can improve our qualifying a little bit more, we’ll be right there.”
They’ve gotten to a point where they can unload at any track, knowing what to expect out of their car, according to Haudenschild. That’s made for easier adjustments and a more balanced race car, eliminating the need to overdrive the car to make up for any lack of speed.
“For me, not having to over drive it as much has helped,” Haudenschild said. “As soon as you start overdriving and you have to try a little bit harder, that’s when things start to happen. I feel like this year we’ve just had a really solid car and that makes my job a lot easier going out there and not having to push to the edge so much.”
He also acknowledged that out of the handful of times he suffered a blown tire last year, half of those occurrences were his fault. It’s been a focus this year to keep that stat off his resume. So far, he’s done a solid job with only two finishes outside the top 14 in 45 starts.
While he’s fallen 130 behind Series points leader Brad Sweet, there are several upcoming tracks, like Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 for the Ironman weekend, where Haudenschild has excelled and can potentially make up ground. And being in the hunt for the title hasn’t changed his approach.
“We want to win races,” he said. “A championship would be great. I think if you play it smart and go out to win races and just keep your nose clean and finish these races with top fives and top 10s, you should be there at the end.”
While many may say success at the Ironman 55 is inevitable for Haudenschild, he’s only focused on again saying, “I am Ironman.”
For tickets to the Ironman weekend, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either online or by downloading the DIRTVision App.