FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The start of each racing season typically offers several variables and unknowns. However for Trent Walko, the 2008 season opener was quite the opposite as for the first time since joining the WKA Manufacturer's Cup Series, he was returning to a track he knew and racing in a team setting that he was familiar with.
The combination of confidence, comfort level and maturity paid off for the North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania driver as he scored his first National win in the Cadet Junior Sportsman class on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway then followed up with two sixth place runs in Cadet and HPV Junior Sportsman on Sunday.
The weekend started well with a solid qualifying effort which put the young driver comfortably in the field of fifty-three entries.
"It was a little more comfortable knowing that I had been there and I knew the track. I qualified second which was good but the first turn at Daytona can be difficult to start from the outside and I lost a few spots at the beginning."
Walko's growing on-track maturity showed though as he never lost the lead draft and watched the heated battle at the front until the closing lap for his chance to move forward.
"The leaders were being pretty aggressive so I waited for a chance to take advantage of a mistake. They hit each other on the last lap and I was able to bump draft the third place kart by them and then get under the leader in the last turn. I had a good exit from the last turn and had them covered to the checkered flag."
Despite being eight hundred miles from home, the win turned out to be a popular one for the young driver who was one of twenty drivers in Daytona from his BeaveRun, his home track.
"It was a lot of fun; I was completely crowded after the race with all of the BeaveRun racers, all the guys from MRP and all my Nationals friends too. It was exciting!"
According to Trent's father John, this race was not only their most successful National event to date, it was one of the easiest. "I didn't have to do a lot to the kart; it was good from the start; tire pressure adjustments and slight rear width changes were about it. It was fast from the time we got there. I think finally with being our third year in nationals we are seeing tracks for the second time now since the series moves around so much. I think that was the big difference I saw, he was confident and remembered everything. "
While Saturday's win was obviously the highlight of the weekend, Sunday's results were also impressive, showing a new level of determination and perseverance.
"In the Sunday Cadet race he got bumped off at the start but gathered it back up and still managed a sixth place finish which should put him near the top of the Championship standings. By the time the HPV race was ready to start he had some pretty sore ribs that were making it hard to breath to the point where he wasn't sure if he could start. To tough it out and end up finishing sixth, even running as high as third at one point, showed a lot of determination."
After starting the Manufacturer's Cup season in such strong fashion, Trent was very appreciative of the help of many important people.
"I want to thank my dad, everyone at MRP, Chris & Tim Lobaugh especially, and Marc & John Zartarian from Hi-Rev Engineering. This was our best Nationals race yet thanks to all of these people. We had a lot of power and the engines were really perfect by the time the finals came around. Working closer with Chris this year helped our kart set-up. After the sessions we'd talk about the kart and they would come up with some new ideas we hadn't tried before. Those little things really helped the kart work good."
Trent's win on Saturday not only was a victory on the track but off the track as well. As a winner of one of four Junior class races on Saturday at Daytona, Trent earned the opportunity through Kids Racing for Kids to have $1000 donated in his name to Pat's Place, a child advocacy center in Charlotte, NC. Kids Racing for Kids was created to help abused children across the United States while instilling charitable values in young racers.
For more information on Pat's Place, or how you can help this cause, please visit www.patsplacecac.org.
Chris Lobaugh, MRP Engineer
"It's rare that you see a father/son, mechanic/driver relationship that works so well as with Trent and John Walko. They are totally focused on getting the chassis right, looking at the data, and improving Trent's racecraft which results in winning races. John and Trent are fierce competitors yet will gladly give the shirts off their backs in order to help someone either under the tent or on the grid. They are true sportsmen. Trent had an up and down year in 2007 where he showed speed at every event yet struggled a bit with some bad racing luck. I know that what we saw at the first round in Daytona is only the beginning of what Trent has in store for us in 2008 and look forward to the next WKA race in Charlotte, NC."
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