After Justin Henderson heard the news that Kreitz Racing and Lance Dewease were parting ways this summer, the 44-year-old forced himself to let the dust settle.
“I tried to be a little bit tactful. I waited a couple hours,” Henderson said with a laugh. “I gave him (Don Kreitz Jr.) a call and you know, apologized for being such a ride chaser and just let him know that I was very interested and I loved the team and all the people involved.”
The South Dakota native had driven for the team in the past — first piloting the No. 69k during the National Open at Williams Grove (Pa.) Speedway in 2015 — and thus had an open line of communication with team owner Don Kreitz Jr.
However, as Dewease took over as full-time driver of the No. 69k in 2016, it had been several years since Henderson sat in the cockpit of a Kreitz Racing entry.
“We had a blast and we were competitive right out of the box,” Henderson said, referring to his fourth-place finish at the National Open in 2015.
Eight years later, the South Dakota driver-Pennsylvania team duo was back in business.
“We came to an agreement to drive his (Kreitz’s) car for a couple races in Pennsylvania, the World Finals and then another race in PA at Susky (BAPS Motor Speedway) for their big $25,000-to-win memorial race,” Henderson said.
The 44-year-old made it clear on Friday night during the World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte that, though his stint in the No. 69k was temporary, he intended to be a threat while it lasted.
Henderson finished second in his heat race and fourth in the dash before sliding back to finish 10th in the A main.
“I was trying to keep temperature in the motor as much as I could with the fuel valve, but when we got started, it wouldn’t take off until I got darn near close to turn one. So that kind of put me in a bad position,” Henderson said. “Then I lost a few more spots, trying to regroup myself and probably trying a little bit too hard.”
Still, his 10th-place finish on Friday was his top result of the week, as the No. 69k placed 14th during Thursday’s feature and 18th during Saturday night’s finale.
While it wasn’t quite the results Henderson was hoping to earn at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, he admitted there were a few factors the team was struggling with throughout the four-day stretch.
“This track has changed drastically since the last time I was here. I don’t even know the year,” Henderson said. “And these guys have only been here once and that was last year on a different tire. We’re both trying to find ourselves.”
The South Dakota native is a bit more optimistic about his chances during the Les Stewart Showdown this weekend at BAPS Motor Speedway, which is also home turf for Kreitz Racing. The team is based an hour away in Sinking Spring, Pa.
Henderson concluded, “Just extremely fortunate that apparently they like me a little bit, enough to give me a chance here. I’m trying to make the best of it.”
Watch the Les Stewart Showdown on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. (ET) on SPEED SPORT affiliate DirtTrackDigest.TV.