YORK, Pa. – Throughout his racing journey, Jeff Halligan has fought for an opportunity with an established 410 sprint car team.
As of Friday night, he’ll finally get his chance.
Halligan was tabbed as the new driver of the Barshinger Racing No. 24 on Friday night, team owner Mike Barshinger first told Sprint Car & Midget and later revealed via Facebook.
The 26-year-old is set to replace veteran Kerry Madsen, who parted with the team on Wednesday to be closer to his Knoxville, Iowa home. For Halligan, he steps out of his frugal family operation to join one of the long-standing teams in central Pennsylvania.
“I’m ready to get to work,” Halligan said. “I’ve worked my whole life for this opportunity. I’ve had some great people behind me to put me in this position, to even get the chance. I think the work is just getting started now.
“It is a cutthroat deal, and there’s not too many out there,” Halligan added. “I get the sense from Mike he’s a racer, just like me. And I like that. I think there’s a lot of opportunity there, for that reason. I know it’s cutthroat. I know his phone was probably blowing up the past three days. I’m confident with what I can bring to the table. I know I can do this. I know it’s a lot of work and I am willing to put in the work. We’re looking forward to it.
“We’ll see how it goes, but I think we can do very well.”
Halligan’s deal with Barshinger materialized rather quickly. After Barshinger made Madsen’s departure public, Halligan called the car owner Thursday morning to throw his name into the broad pool of candidates.
Fortunately for Halligan, the third-year 410 racer who’s quickly gained respect through underfunded equipment, that was enough.
The two met at Barshinger’s race shop Friday evening to finalize the deal.
“I’ve had him on my radar,” Barshinger said. “He was a name I wrote down over the winter when we were deciding who to hire.
“I just figured I’d give him a shot,” Barshinger added. “He looks like an up-and-coming guy. He’s done pretty well with what he’s had. I thought, ‘Well, you know, we’re going to give him a shot.’”
The team’s first race will be Saturday night at Lincoln Speedway, a tune-up for Wednesday night’s World of Outlaws NOS Energy Sprint Car Series stop at the Abbottstown property. As far as a defined schedule, Halligan and Barshinger will run the regular circuit across central Pennsylvania: Williams Grove Speedway on Friday and bouncing between Lincoln and Port Royal Speedway on Saturdays.
“I’m really excited,” Halligan said. “Really looking forward to the opportunity. I’m really thankful Mike gave me the opportunity.”
Halligan’s resume includes a pair of 410 wins – one each in 2019 and 2020 – to go along with the 2019 Williams Grove rookie-of-the-year award. He is tied for seventh all-time in 358 wins at Lincoln Speedway with seven and won the 358 Central Pennsylvania championship in 2016.
This year, in his admittedly underfunded family car, Halligan has three top fives in 10 races. Halligan even won one of the two four-lap dashes in the All Star Circuit of Champions Keith Kauffman Classic at Port Royal Speedway on April 17, one of his more noteworthy moments.
“As far as the confidence thing, it’s pretty simple: me and my team have done everything,” Halligan said. “My sponsors have done everything for our operation. Literally everything. To be able to be recognized as a candidate is really thoughtful. If it fits, it fits. I’m glad with what we’ve accomplished has at least got his attention.
“As I said, I think the work is just starting, and I’m fully prepared to give everything I have.”
While Barshinger’s previous two drivers have been accredited wheelmen in Lucas Wolfe and Madsen, Halligan reminds the team owner of someone like Cory Haas. Barshinger hired Haas in 2005 and while Haas didn’t have much to his name, the two built something together.
“I think he’s a little like that,” Barshinger said. “He’s pretty knowledgeable. I’m looking forward to working with him.
“We’ve got a really fast race car right now, I can tell you that,” Barshinger added. “Our car is really good. Our motors are really good. If I can get Jeff comfortable in this thing, I think we’ll be fine.”