Back at a Familiar Track: McCarl Returns to World of Outlaws Action at Knoxville Raceway Terry McCarl could not imagine missing a World of Outlaws event at his home track, the famed Knoxville Raceway. After sustaining a broken left leg a month...
Back at a Familiar Track: McCarl Returns to World of Outlaws Action at Knoxville Raceway
Terry McCarl could not imagine missing a World of Outlaws event at his home track, the famed Knoxville Raceway. After sustaining a broken left leg a month ago at Sharon Speedway, it looked like the Altoona, Iowa native would still be on the mend when the series rolled into town.
Thanks to a rigorous physical therapy and rehabilitation program, as well as determination, McCarl will pilot his Big Game Treestands Eagle this weekend during The Mediacom World of Outlaws Shoot-Out Presented By Sonic, America's Drive-In.
In preparation for this two-day event, McCarl and his team traveled to Huset's Speedway in Brandon, South Dakota on Sunday. Not only did he get seat time and valuable laps around the demanding high-banked 3/8-mile track, but he bested a stout 20 car field to pick up the win. McCarl now has eight victories this season, and will head to Knoxville in search of his first World of Outlaws win of the year.
McCarl was anxious to get back into the driver's seat, but was cautious at the same time, to make sure his leg was strong enough and flexible enough to last an entire evening. He surprised himself a little with how much progress he has made in such a short period of time. Always one to be optimistic, he expected to be back in the car long before most people thought he would return.
"I was hoping," McCarl said. "You're always hoping for the best. I hardly ever really missed a race in my career due to an injury. Missing this many has been a bit of a shock to me."
McCarl has been doing plenty of stretching exercises lately, to help gain flexibility and mobility back in his left leg. His doctor as well as his physical therapist have kept close tabs on him, as he has put in countless hours of rehab.
"I have a really awesome doctor and he has the same attitude as a race car driver," said McCarl. "I went to him in 1995, when I shattered a few bones in my hand. I knew he was the right guy to go to. My physical therapist, she has been surprised in how far we have come, probably a little shocked. Any race car driver knows that we heal up quicker than most people."
McCarl knows that he still has a long way to go to get the leg back to full strength, but winning on Sunday night was some of the best medicine he could have received. In fact, it was his 77th career win at Huset's Speedway adding to his illustrious record at the track, that also includes six championships.
"I'm trying to get the movement down," McCarl said. "I can't move it as good as the right one. The pain is still there, so that is just something you have to live with."
McCarl could not think of a better place to get back into the car then at Huset's Speedway, a track the World of Outlaws will return to on July 3. He went there to get some seat time and ended up in victory lane. The track is very physically demanding and was a perfect test for his left leg and the rest of his body.
Knoxville Raceway is right in his backyard and it too holds a very special place in McCarl's racing career. He is excited to be able to compete with the rest of the Mean 15 on his home turf, where he won 42 feature events, along with six track championships.
"Those are two places I know very well," said McCarl. "I also can be home in the meantime. My drive the other night, I still made a lot of mistakes, things you could not do at a World of Outlaws race. It was a great tune up. I still have a long way to go in my recovery, but they (Huset's Speedway and Knoxville Raceway) are the best places for me to start off at."
Despite missing the last month of action, McCarl's team is currently fourth in World of Outlaws owner points, thanks to the efforts of Dean Jacobs, Tim Shaffer, and Sammy Swindell. Jacobs put the car in victory lane at Lernerville Speedway on May 31. Every night after racing, whoever was filling in for that event, would rave about how fast the car was, and what a great crew McCarl has.
"I'm really proud of my guys," said McCarl. "That's one the disappointments for me getting hurt, that I had put the best team together in my career. I think we had a shot at giving them a run for the championship. Everyone responded very well and it just shows how strong my team is this year."
McCarl enters this weekend's event, The Mediacom World of Outlaws Shoot-Out Presented By Sonic, America's Drive-In, 12th in driver points. Despite being out of the title hunt, he still has high expectations for the rest of the season. Before being sidelined, he had racked up 8 top-five finishes, as well as setting fast time on three occasions and winning two dashes.
"I want to get back in the top-10 in driver points," McCarl said. "Hopefully we can move up even further in the owner points as well once I get back going."
McCarl has been determined for the last month to get back on the track as soon as possible. He is quick to credit his family, as well as all those around him, for helping make the healing process and time out of the car more bearable.
"My crew has been out on the road working, while I have been home trying to recover," McCarl said. "Steve Fitzpatrick my crew chief did a great job of taking over and running the team. We've had a lot of support from all the World of Outlaws teams. It's been like one big family out there, when you're off the track. When you're on the track, everyone wants to beat you and the other teams. The support from all the teams has been amazing and I really appreciate that."