2007 World of Outlaws Preview: Tim Kaeding Concord, NC--Jan. 30, 2007 -- Tim Kaeding knew before last season that he had the opportunity of a lifetime, being offered the chance to drive for Steve Kinser Racing, as a teammate to the 20-time World...
2007 World of Outlaws Preview: Tim Kaeding
Concord, NC--Jan. 30, 2007 -- Tim Kaeding knew before last season that he had the opportunity of a lifetime, being offered the chance to drive for Steve Kinser Racing, as a teammate to the 20-time World of Outlaws Champion and racing legend. The knowledge and experience he would gain from the best in the business would be priceless.
He would be replacing Kraig Kinser, the 2004 World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award winner, who moved on to race in NASCAR, after winning seven World of Outlaws events in 2005, including the Knoxville Nationals while driving for his father.
Kaeding, a native of San Jose, made the most of the chance, as he racked up 15 wins while competing with the National Sprint Tour, including on many tracks he only heard and read about in the past.
"I looked at last year as if it would make or break my career driving for Steve," said Kaeding, who has four career World of Outlaws A-Feature wins. "The biggest thing I can do this year is to do what I did last year. That is to go out and be competitive and not put myself in any stupid situations. I just need to have as much fun as I can every night when I go out on the race track and learn."
Gearing up for the 36th Annual DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Mopar Speedshop, Kaeding traveled to Parramatta City Raceway in Australia for three events earlier this month. He competed against his boss, who won two of the three events, along with several other World of Outlaws drivers. While he went there to shake off any rust from the off-season and get into a rhythm, he also went there to learn.
"The biggest thing I learned in Australia that I can bring back here, is that I have to adapt to tracks a little bit quicker than I did, and just stay on top of the game a little bit more," said the 1998 and 2001 Silver Dollar (Calif.) Speedway Track Champion.
While it may appear daunting and a bit intimidating to drive for a racing icon, that is not the case for Kaeding and his team. They feel at ease every time they take to the track, and know exactly what they are capable of.
"Steve doesn't put any pressure on the race team, other than wanting them to do good and not tear up a bunch of stuff," explained Kaeding, the 2002 Golden State Challenge Series, King of California Champion. "He basically wanted me to go out and win races last year. We tried doing that and did. It is kind of weird, but Steve puts absolutely no pressure on us. Whatever pressure we put on ourselves is what we put on ourselves. That's usually what we have to contend with every night."
As he heads to Volusia for the opening three events of the World of Outlaws season, Kaeding knows they will be three of the toughest races all season. With nearly 30 drivers starting the year full-time with the series, as well as the competitors from the O'Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions being on hand, in addition to the best from the always tough Pennsylvania Posse, the opening trio of racing will be a good measuring stick for things to come over the course of the nearly 90-race season that stretches from February until early November.
"A lot of guys have been racing in Australia all winter, and are ready to go," said the son of sprint car legend Brent Kaeding. "They are probably some of the toughest races because you find out who will be tough all year long. I've only run at Volusia once, and that was in 2005."
After opening the season in Florida, a cross-country trip is in store, as the series will contest two nights of racing at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California, where Kaeding won the Trophy Cup last season, in his home state. He enjoys racing in front of his home crowd, but admits that sometimes it can get overwhelming with all the commitments that can come with being home.
"It does have its advantages and disadvantages," he shared. "When you come to your home tracks, you have the pressure of your family and the crowd on your side. They expect you to do well after you have had a good season. The biggest thing is to go out there and race and try not to get involved in it too much until afterwards."
The nearly 90-race schedule certainly takes its toll on all of the teams on the road physically and mentally. Kaeding is quick to point out that you have to make sure you have a good head on your shoulders before embarking on the rigors of being on the road full-time. He knows that many components go into being successful each night the cars rolls off the trailer.
"I think that qualifying will be key this year," he stated. "It's never really been my strong suit, I'm more of the racer guy. It's going to be hard. There will be a lot of nights when a lot of good cars are left sitting in the pits. It's going to be one of those weird seasons where you see who is ready for it and who is not. I kept myself out of the Outlaws limelight for a couple of years, because I knew I was not mentally ready for it. It's more of a mental game than a lot of things nowadays."
While every night presents a new challenge and a clean slate, sometimes the previous night of racing is still fresh in the mind of the drivers, and making sure to balance that is a key as well in Kaeding's book
"If you have a couple bad races and are tearing stuff up all the time, you don't have a lot of time to regroup mentally to get back in the game," commented Kaeding. "It's hard sometimes. You just have to take the ups and downs the same way every night, and move on and get yourself to the next race."
After establishing a winning foundation last season, Keading looks to build on that as he continues to gain experience and learn. Expect him to compete with his boss for a number of wins this season, and enjoy every moment he is out there racing and make the most of it.
"We want to be consistent like we were last year," he said. "I think we finished almost every NST race last year. We had a couple of bad nights, but it happens. Everyone will have their bad nights. As long as we can make the show every night and be consistently up towards the front, I think we should be all right."