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Huff waits for green flag after championship season

EAST PALESTINE — Brandon Huff had a big weekend planned.

The defending Coyote Racing Truck Series champion was looking forward to opening the 2020 season at Midvale Speedway near New Philadelphia on Saturday night.

Now the racing season is on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic and Huff has been staying at home with his family in East Palestine.

“We’re itching to get out there and get on the track and get back to a normal lifestyle,” he said.

Huff had high expectations coming off his first championship season in nine years.

“There was a lot of momentum winning the championship and we wanted to carry it over into this year,” he said. “We’re excited and ready to start the season.”

He won the 2010 Northern Ohio Legends Series before making the move to the ARCA Truck Series. He raced there for six years before it disbanded and is entering his fourth year in the new CRS regional series.

“We always enjoy being around the trucks and the drivers,” Huff said. “There are a lot of good guys. They’re our race truck family.”

The racing team is a family affair for Huff as his father, Dan, is the crew chief. They’ve been working together on the truck for years.

“There’s been a lot of years of trials and errors,” Huff said. “Dad and I were beating our heads together to get faster. There is a lot more to the trucks than the legend cars and the go-karts. I think our experience is paying off.”

It took five years for Huff to win his first truck race and he finally broke through with a season championship in his ninth year.

“We’ve been itching and itching to get it,” Huff said. “We’d run well over the years and we’d have different struggles. Everything just all clicked together last year. It was good.”

The Coyote Racing Series had planned on a 13-race season, but it looks like it will be shorter with each passing day of the governor’s stay-at-home orders.

“At first it didn’t look like it wouldn’t last too long, but now it looks like its going to drag on a while,” Huff said. “With the social distancing guidelines, it’s going to be hard to get fans in the stands and people in the pits.”

There will be no racing until race tracks are cleared to put fans in the stands.

“That’s how they pay their workers and the drivers,” Huff said. “It’s going to put a damper on local racing this year.

“It’s a real struggle to run a race track. We’ve seen over the years someone would run a track and then close up. Then someone comes along and buys it. Five to 10 years down the road they’re closing up. We’ve seen a lot of tracks close up because of finances.”

Huff believes there will be racing this year, even if it is a shortened schedule.

“Our short-track racing is not going to be possible to do a couple of races a week because people with jobs won’t be able to drop it to go racing,” he said.

The truck is ready to go and Huff is just waiting for the green flag to drop.

“We’ll take anything to get the truck out there to shake off the winter dust,” he said. “We want to get started again. Now we’re in a waiting pattern.”

It would be a shame if this is the year there was no racing.

“We try not to think about that,” Huff said. “But we don’t want to see our family, team and fans get sick. We want everyone to stay safe.

“I hope we have something this year.”

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