By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Road racing ringer Preston Pardus will return to DGM Racing for the Henry 180 at Road America.
Pardus will once again pilot DGM’s No. 36 Chevrolet Camaro SS. He drove the No. 36 as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course to a top-10 finish.
The 23-year-old made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at the 4.048-mile road course last season. Pardus qualified 15th and ran well until a suspension failure ended his day after 14 laps. He also ran at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval last year.
“SCCA has this event there called the June Sprints that’s actually been around longer than the national championships and is probably their second biggest race of the year,” explained Pardus.
“Seat time anywhere helps a ton because you can learn the characteristics of the track — the bumps, the braking markers and other reference points. When I was racing in the SCCA Spec Miata class there, we’d have a full test day, two practices, two qualifying sessions and two 35-minute races. In Xfinity, we won’t get any practice or qualifying, so experience could mean a lot under those circumstances.”
“Last year, our goal was to finish top 20, and that was our goal for Indy, too,” Pardus continued. “You’ve got to have some goals, but you can’t be unrealistic about your expectations. Anytime you meet a goal, you set another one, just not too far out there. Maybe another top 10. To do that again would be great for us.”
On top of the pit box for Pardus will be race-winning crew chief Tony Furr. Furr earned wins with both Jerry Nadeau and John Andretti. He also worked with NASCAR Hall of Famer, Ricky Rudd, who won six races on road courses.
“We were running really good at Road America last year … and broke,” explained Furr. “That was his first time in one of those style cars, and he was fairly aggressive and adapted really quick.
“You’re talking about 120 horsepower in the Spec Miata versus almost 700 in the Xfinity car; 8-inch tires vs. 10-inch tires; and a car that’s 1,000 pounds heavier. All of that amounts to a big difference, and he did a really good job. I was very impressed with him.”
Pardus has several starts on road courses in SCCA Spec Miatas. He won the SCCA National Championship Runoffs (in the Spec Miata division) at Indianapolis in 2017. Pardus won three SCCA events last year and finished second in the championship.
While the cars are radically different, the basics of the course are the same. Pardus admitted that utilizing the momentum has helped him with the learning curve:
“The cars are so different, but the fundamentals are the same,” said Pardus. “The Miata really teaches you driving aspects like carrying a lot of momentum. They’re so low on horsepower and they’re so slow down the straights that you really have to focus on getting through the corner.
“I feel like with the stock car stuff, a lot of the guys kind of rely on the power and don’t think about the corner speeds as much. So, learning how to carry momentum has helped me shorten the learning curve.”
With no practice or qualifying, Pardus’ experience at Road America and on road courses could put him ahead of his competition on track. The Henry 180 is at 12:00 pm Eastern on August 8.