There were unanswered questions coming into the 2018 season for Chris Madden. The Gray Court, SC driver switched away from the Longhorn Chassis he was familiar with in order to drive the Barry Wright Race Cars house car and many wondered how the veteran driver and legendary car builder would perform as they entered into somewhat of a reunification tour together. And further, the BWRC team had struggled over the past couple of seasons with drivers such as Jimmy Owens and Jonathan Davenport behind the wheel.
However, the recent SpeedWeeks trip to Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park for the opening of the World of Outlaws Late Model Series season answered many of those questions. Madden and the No. 44 team performed so well that they won the championship in the Late Model portion of the DIRTcar Nationals. And to add to their early season success, Madden took first place in this past Sunday’s Southern All Star Dirt Racing Series sanctioned March Madness event at Cherokee Speedway that netted a payment of $12,000.
“I don’t think we could have asked for anything better than what we had down at Volusia,” Madden told InsideDirtRacing.com. “It was a great SpeedWeeks for us. I think everything is looking good for us so far. We should have got a couple of wins down there but there were some caution flags and things like that didn’t fall our way. We definitely had the most consistent car for the week down there, for sure.”
Madden and Wright have worked together in the past and the two South Carolina natives are clicking very early on in this second instance. As a result, Madden finds himself in a comfortable situation with not only a new team but also a new chassis.
“I feel good about it,” Madden declared. “It’s not like going into a totally new situation. We’ve known each other for a long time so the comfort zone is there to start with. It’s not that big of an adjustment. You’re just figuring out what the car is looking for and what to do to the car to get the feel the driver is looking for.”
Madden believes one reason for his team’s early season success is that he has experience working on race cars which allows him to better relate to Barry and Lance Wright as to what the car needs to be competitive.
“I think it’s a huge role for the driver to understand the parts and pieces on your car,” the 42-year-old racer insisted. “You need to know how they work and how to adjust them so you can get the feel that you’re looking for.”
But Madden and the Wrights understand that racing is an ever-evolving endeavor. Despite their early success, the No. 44 operation is always seeking to improve.
“We’re trying to get better and better all the time. We’ve made quite a few changes to come here(Cherokee Speedway) this weekend to test with in race conditions than what we had at Volusia.”