Jack Handley Jr. was out for revenge. Not against any other person, but against a situation. Handley, 19 of Medford, was leading the blunderbust chase by 26 points heading into the last race of last season. With six laps left and Handley rolling effortlessly, a championship seemed secure.
But when a gear in the rear end of his car broke with five laps left, Handley could not finish the race and lost the championship to Huntington's Tom Pickerell.
"I was pretty upset about it," said Handley, a sophomore at St. John's who is studying risk management. "I went home and rebuilt the whole car. I wanted to come back this year and win the championship . . . I tore the whole car apart and went through everything so nothing like that could happen again."
With a refurbished car and a renewed focus, Handley swept the first three races of the season.
"I was just trying to show everyone that I should have been the champion last year and I'd be it this year, he said."
Leading the points chase in July, Handley was poised to right last year's wrongs. But then, in a stereotypical "not again!" moment, his motor broke. "I was done," Handley said. "I didn't want to even race anymore."
Through all of Handley's offseason work on the car, the motor was practically the only thing he did not touch.
"I just kept messing around with everything," Handley said. "I hurt the motor. That's how it blew up."His father, Jack Handley Sr., called up former blunderbust driver Michael Rommeney, who allowed the younger Handley to use his car free of charge.
"We knew his car was sitting," Handley Jr. said. "So we figured we'd just ask him . . . It ran well, but it wasn't my car, so it was a little different."