2006 World of Outlaws Season Review: Randy Hannagan Norman, OK--Nov. 15, 2006 -- Randy Hannagan entered the 2006 season very optimistic and for good reason. His team was very well prepared to take on the rigorous World of Outlaws Sprint Series...
2006 World of Outlaws Season Review: Randy Hannagan
Norman, OK--Nov. 15, 2006 -- Randy Hannagan entered the 2006 season very optimistic and for good reason. His team was very well prepared to take on the rigorous World of Outlaws Sprint Series schedule. He showed in 2005 that he was still at the top of his game, competing in over 100 nights of racing, including many Outlaws events. On top of all of this, he had a couple of good luck charms with him on the road this season, in the form of his fiance Angie, and son Mason, who was born a couple of months before the season opener.
The native of San Jose, who now calls Pittsboro, Indiana home, finished the season 11th in the driver championship point standings, on the strength of eight Top-Five finishes and 21 Top-10's, while the team finished 10th in car owner points.
After starting the year with some bad luck in Florida, Hanangan quickly rebounded with a fifth-place finish at Manzanita Speedway to open up the month of March. He kept that momentum rolling, as he scored two Top-Five finishes at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway on a couple of cold and blustery evenings. Amidst swirling snow flurries, he was third on the first night of the event and fourth in the finale.
"All in all, it was a good year," said Hannagan, driver of the Penthouse Magazine Maxim. "We were hoping for a little better year and to have won some races. We were close to winning, and were good probably 75 percent of the time this year. We still had our off nights, and the other guys had good nights. I wish we could have won a race and been a little more competitive. Now we have a direction and we have something to shoot for next year."
Hannagan returned home to his native California for a week at the end of May, after scoring back-to-back Top-10 runs, including a third in the $50,000 Challenge at Sharon (Ohio) Speedway, to spend time with his mother who was battling cancer. With her health improving, he returned to the cockpit at Eldora Speedway on June 3 finishing a very solid seventh on one of the most demanding tracks in the world.
The middle of June saw Hannagan hit his stride, as he racked up back-to-back Top-10's at Red River Valley Speedway in North Dakota, as well as at Knoxville Raceway. July opened up with a couple of races on bullrings, and Hannagan matched his season best with a third on July 3 at Huset's Speedway in South Dakota. He backed that up with two more Top-10 finishes at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway and in the Brad Doty Classic at Limaland Motorsports Park in Ohio.
A swing through New York at the end of July brought Hannagan a very strong fourth-place finish at Fulton Speedway, as was a solid Top-10 run at Lebanon Valley Speedway.
August brought the Gold Rush Tour, and Hannagan began the Western swing with a Top-Five at Black Hills (S.D.) Speedway. He followed that up by finishing in the Top-10 at Skagit (Wash.) Speedway, as well as well as on the preliminary night at his home track of Calistoga (Calif.) Speedway. He also finished in the Top-10 on the opening night of the Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar (Calif.) Speedway.
"We probably would have finished higher than 11th in points if I had not missed those races to go home, but in any circumstances I would have gone back," he said. "That's not an issue. It was just of those deals where it was a good year, not a great year, but it wasn't a terrible year. There were teams that ran better than us and teams that ran worse than us. We'll just try to build on it, come back next year, and improve."
Entering the season, Hannagan knew it would take a complete night of being fast from the time the car rolled off the trailer until the checkered flag flew on the A-Feature to be running at the front of the field. He stopped the clocks twice in time trials with his name at the top of the list.
"The competition was definitely tough," explained the 1995 series Rookie of the Year. "Our guys that we had this year are the toughest in sprint car racing. The World of Outlaws guys are the best in the country and in the world, and it was proven this year."
Late in the season, Hannagan and his team made a switch in the engines they were running, as they looked for a spark with a number of half-miles dotting the schedule in October. This paid off with a third-place finish at the famed Knoxville Raceway, on a night he won the dash to earn the pole position in the event. This was one of the two pole position he earned on the year. He followed this up with a seventh-place finish in the series inaugural visit to Wilmot (Wisc.) Speedway, a week later.
"We made a change just to see if we going in the right direction and we were close," Hannagan commented. "We were still a little bit off. We definitely have something to build on for next year. Over the years, we have built on stuff from the past, and you think that you are close and sometimes you are and sometimes you aren't. I know that next year when we start, we will be 50 percent closer than we were this year. That's a good building point for myself and my team, and all the people that are involved with my team. All the people that helped me have been great, and I hope that they continue to help me through the rest of my career until the day I decide to hang my helmet up."
Returning to the series for the first time full-time since the 2003 season, Hannagan felt right at home. He knew he would be treated fairly, and he also knew how cooperative all the teams would be. This was evident on many nights, when he and his crew member could be seen helping out other teams in the pit area and vice versa.
"I've had a great relationship with the World of Outlaws over the years," recalled Hannagan. "Everyone treated me good this year. It was a remarkable year for the World of Outlaws and all of their people. Things have changed over the last 15 years that I have been involved with it, and it's nice to say that I have seen it change and change for the better. They are definitely headed in the right direction. They shot high and they hit every mark. That's the thing that I really like. As a team, we need to shoot high and we need to hit that mark ourselves. It's a work in progress."
With the 2007 season opener just around the corner, Hannagan and his team know they have their work cut out for them. Building on the momentum they gained this season, they are ready to take to the track at Volusia Speedway Park on February 9 and battle for wins night in and night out.
"The off-season won't hold much other than a lot of work," said a smiling Hannagan. "I'm going to spend a little time in California with my mom and my family, and I look forward to that. We'll have an early Thanksgiving, because that same week is my son (Mason's) first birthday. We'll get back to Indiana to celebrate that and Christmas. Then hopefully we'll get a Chili Bowl deal lined up and do that. Then it's time to head to Florida and start the process all over."
Next Up: The series of season reviews for the Top-15 in the World of Outlaws Sprint Series continues with Jeremy Campbell.