2006 World of Outlaws Season Review: Jeremy Campbell Concord, NC--Nov. 17, 2006 -- Age did not matter to Jeremy Campbell this season. At 22 years old, he was the youngest full-time driver on tour with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series. In terms...
2006 World of Outlaws Season Review: Jeremy Campbell
Concord, NC--Nov. 17, 2006 -- Age did not matter to Jeremy Campbell this season. At 22 years old, he was the youngest full-time driver on tour with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series. In terms of racing experience though, he entered the equation with over 11 years already under his belt.
He battled all season long for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt, as well as maintaining a solid presence in the Top-10 in the overall championship point standings.
When it was all said and done, the native of Monroe, Michigan was 10th in the championship standings, on the strength of four Top-Five finishes, including two runner-up finishes, to go along with his 17 Top-10's. He wound up third in the rookie battle.
"It was a lot of fun," said Campbell, driver of the America Best Value Inn Maxim. "I learned a lot and that was the biggest thing, what I learned out here. It was probably the most important thing that I gained."
While being on the road full-time was nothing new to Campbell, the amount of racing he did was. He visited over 20 new tracks this season, including his first trip to the Pacific Northwest and the West Coast. He used many of his past notes and set-ups from tracks he had frequented when pulling into speedways for the first time this season.
"I have been on the road pretty much since my days in go-karts, so I have always liked being on the road," he explained. "This is probably though, the most I have raced in a year."
Early in the season, Campbell showed he would have the consistency to run at the front of the pack. A strong seventh-place finish in early February at Volusia Speedway Park had him primed to head west for a few races in the desert. He led 15 laps at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March, after winning the dash to earn fist career pole position with the series. He battled eventual series champion Donny Schatz through traffic and high winds late in the race to secure the podium finish.
"The most that I learned was running with the Top-Five guys," commented Campbell. "Running with them every day, non-stop, you pick up so much stuff. You pick up some from just watching, other stuff from talking to people."
Campbell also scored a runner-up finish at Wilmot (Wisc.) Speedway later in the season, in what was one of the most thrilling races of the entire season. He led the first 10 laps of the event, after winning another dash to earn his second position of the season. He was running in the Top-three all night long, and briefly took the lead down the back straight-a-way on the final circuit as he was battling Daryn Pittman and eventual winner Mark Dobmeier all before an enthusiastic crowd on a very chilly night, reminiscent of the night in Las Vegas when he nearly picked up the win in March..
"I know I can do it (win a race),"the young driver said. "We just have to get the lucky chance to get it."
In the early spring, he showed that he would be a force to be reckoned with on the bullrings, as he finished seventh on the tough high-banks of Tri-State (Ind.) Speedway in mid-April and followed that up with another seventh-place run at Huset's (S.D.) Speedway just two races later. A fourth-place run in the $50,000 Challenge at Sharon (Ohio) Speedway in late May, gave Campbell the confidence he needed as the series hit one its busiest stretches of the season.
Campbell turned in a pair of his best performances of the season during the Eagle Nationals at Eagle (Neb.) Raceway. He was fourth on the preliminary night and backed that up with a sixth-place finish in the finale. A couple weeks later, he continued his strong runs in the Heartland, as he scored back-to-back Top-10's at 81 Speedway and Dodge City Raceway Park, both in Kansas.
For much of the season, Campbell worked with veteran crew chief and mechanic Rob Hart. The pair had a great deal of success together before parting ways during the summer.
Campbell then welcomed a couple Australian drivers, Brody Tulloch and Sam Walsh to his crew. The pair turned the wrenches for the young driver for the remainder of the summer, before heading back to their native land in September to begin their racing season.
At this point in time, Campbell brought on Kevin Loveys as his crew chief. The pair quickly got up to speed, including a stunning fifth-place finish at Calistoga (Calif.) Speedway in the finale of the Harvest Classis. On a very tough track to pass, Campbell lined up 20th and charged all the way to the front, after racing his way into the A-Feature by way of the B-Main. This all came on the heals of scoring a 10th place finish in his first ever race at the track.
A short time later, Mike Kruchka joined the team. Ironically, both Kruchka and Loveys hail from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Along with Campbell, they are all young 20-somethings on the road living a dream racing with the World of Outlaws. The camaraderie of the trio was easily visible by the smiles they had on their faces while working on the car night in and night out, and their success on the track.
"It helped a lot by bringing on Kevin (Loveys) and Mike (Kruchka)," said Campbell. "We relate a lot and get along real well together. That is the big key. If you get a good team to work together, you'll be fast."
Another highlight for Campbell was setting a new track record at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway in September with a very strong field of 41 cars on-hand. This marked the first time in his career he set fast time with the series.
While he was able to make it back to home state of Michigan a few times during the season, including to race at Butler Speedway, where he finished a very solid sixth, he is greatly looking forward to getting to spend some time with family and friends in the off-season.
"We'll just get back home and strip everything down and starting working on things for next season," he stated. "We'll start getting parts and putting the cars together. This is a full-time job. You really don't get a lot of time off. You have an off-season, but still you are working to get everything ready for next season."
Next Up: The series of season reviews for the Top-15 in the World of Outlaws Sprint Series continues with Terry McCarl.