Burlington, WA - When Justin Youngquist straps back into a sprint car this weekend, it will end a 19 month absence from racing for the 22-year-old driver. On October 1, 2016, Youngquist was injured in a crash at Skagit Speedway and consequently, did not participate in any racing events over the course of the 2017 season.
"When I landed, I knew something was different with the pain I felt in my back," said Youngquist of the 2016 crash. "That was the first time I'd gone to the emergency room after a crash - I knew something wasn't right."
The Burlington, Washington driver was taken to the hospital shortly after, where doctors found compressed discs and compression fractures in multiple areas of his vertebrae through his upper and mid-back. "That night, I wasn't sure that I'd ever race again. At that point, I really had no desire to get back in a car," said Youngquist. All of that changed when he returned to the track in August of 2017 - without a car to race.
"I knew then that racing was something I couldn't stay away from," said Justin. Although the urge to get back behind the wheel was stronger than before, the risk of doing so loomed over the 22-year old until months later, he was cleared to race by his doctors.
Now, 19 months later, Justin and team are preparing to tackle a part-time schedule for the 2018 season. With limited sponsorship and a delayed start into the season, the team is approaching their upcoming events with a new perspective as a rebuilding season. "This year, we want to get back out on the track and get some laps. I've never had such a long break away, so I'm anxious to get back in the car," said Justin of the time away from the seat.
"Safety wise, we've taken every precaution we have available before I get back in the car to race." Justin and father John traveled to Indianapolis in December where Justin was fitted in a new Ultra Shield seat and a custom seat insert from Sharp Advantage was poured around the driver for maximum safety and comfort.
The team's plan is to run most of the hallmark events throughout the season including the John Carroll Classic at the end of May, Dirt Cup in June, Summer Nationals at the end of July, and the Summer Thunder Sprint Series finale in Yakima at the end of September. "I'm ready. I'm coming into this with a different mindset and I think that's going to help me moving forward. I'm excited."
See Justin's return this Saturday night, May 19, at Skagit Speedway in Alger, WA. Updates will be posted throughout the night on our social media channels which can be found below.
Photo by JBRacingFilms