|Brandon Matus ready to hit the track at Lernerville on opening night. (Pat Miller photo)|
"I just love working on sprint cars."
That statement alone shows what it means to Brandon Matus each week when he unloads his car at the track.
It is a passion that started at a young age when he would travel to the races weekly with his father Brent and work on his number 33 sprint car with him.
"I was my dad's crew chief starting when I was about nine or ten years old," Matus said. "I knew what I was doing and he trusted me working on his car. My dad, my granddad and my great granddad were all involved with it so I kinda knew I would be too."
The driver of the number 13 Sobczak Electric, Miller Masonry, Ken Shiderly Construction, AR Motorsports, Allied Rubber Supply backed sprinter is coming off a year where had a victory at Lernerville and finished just 10 points behind Brandon Spithaler taking second in the Sarver tracks points title chase. That final race was an intense night for Matus.
"We really don't pay attention to points really, but we kinda fell into the points battle last year," Matus said. "I won my heat race that night and put the pressure on (Spithaler) a bit. Then he went out and won his too. It made it pretty hectic going into the feature, but he got a little better starting spot than me and it worked out for him."
So far this season Matus has two top five finishes in the young western PA season. He finished 5th opening night at Lernerville and picked up a 4th place finish last weekend at Mercer. Even though Matus doesn't necessarily think about points when he is at the track he would like to get the track title at Lernerville this season. Something that his grandfather Jerry Matus accomplished three times.
"Since I was so close to winning it last season it is something that I would definitely like to get this year," Matus said. "When you're in the car you're not thinking about a points battle. It's just not a race car drivers nature. If you get top fives you'll be there at the end of it."
This won't be an easy feat to accomplish and the young driver knows that. He respects how tough the racers are that he runs against weekly across the area.
"When you go to Lernerville or Mercer there are at least 10 to 12 cars that can win any on night," Matus said. "I think it is pretty cool how the competition is growing around here."
Matus first found victory lane in a sprint car at the age of 16 . It was a well earned win at Lernerville as there was an intense battle from start to finish. Matus had to fend of challenges by several drivers in that race, and ultimately prevailed.
"I remember that race like it was yesterday," Matus said. "I think I started on the front row and just took off that night. It seemed like someone new was sticking their nose under my car every other lap and I remember thinking man they are really chasing me. You can't think about it too much though. Whether you are first or tenth you have to run your own race."
While that was a big night for the teenager, he was able to pick up his biggest win to date at the Sharon Speedway during the All Stars Ohio Speedweek in June of 2012. The win came on a drama filled night where he was one of a few drivers who was able to save their tires for the entire race.
"Everyone that knows me knows I like a dry slick track," Matus said. ''You could tell in hot laps what the track was going to be like all night. I still think about winning that race and get butterflies in my stomach. Everyone was there from my family to my sponsors. It was an awesome feeling for sure."
|Matus's car in the pits at Lernerville (Pat Miller photo)|
"The Chili Bowl is unbelievable," Matus said. "It is like a different world out there. I will definitely be back there every year I can even if I am not racing in it."
Matus first gave wingless sprint car racing a shot when the B.O.S.S series started coming to western PA.
"I am really glad those guys race in our area," Matus said. "They pay out the money and you've got to support those who do that."
Wingless racing is something that he really enjoys for many reasons and feels it puts a lot more emphasis on the driver.
"I don't think you need as much motor when you run without the wing," Matus said. "It is more about throttle control and you really have to drive the car."
Looking back through Matus's first four seasons it is amazing how fast he was able to adapt to sprint car racing. Something that amazes the driver himself.
"I never thought my career would take of as fast as it did with winning races and all," Matus said. "I know how hard it is and how long it can take to get there."
No one should be surprised now. Look for this young driver to have a long and successful career in racing wherever it leads him.
For more information you can follow Brandon on Twitter @BrandonMatus_13.