2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Preview: Shane Stewart
Shane Stewart truly was an "Outlaw" in every sense of the word last season, as he competed from coast-to-coast in a number of different cars and took home the top prize 17 times.
That stellar season earned him a spot behind the wheel for the always potent Roth Motorsports team for the 2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series campaign, which begins tomorrow at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida.
Stewart began his 2008 season by competing in the famed Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in his home state of Oklahoma last month. He has competed for the last two nights in the opening two rounds of the 37th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals for the All Star Circuit of Champions.
"The Chili Bowl is a good way to kick off the season," said the 2005 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year. "Our off-season seems to becoming shorter and shorter. It helps get your feet wet for Florida, and it gets your excited for the year to come."
In his career during the season opening Alltel DIRTcar Nationals, Stewart has 13 Top-10 finishes, including one with the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series in 2005. He will be teamed with veteran crew chiefs Davey Whitworth and Dean "Bonsai" Bruns this season as they contest the 80-plus race schedule that awaits the series.
"We tested before we got to Florida," he noted prior to heading to the Sunshine State. "Hopefully when we get down there we will be hitting on all eight cylinders and Davey Bonsai and myself will all be on the same page as far as set-ups and stuff go. Hopefully we can get out season started off on a good note."
The Roth Motorsports team won six times in 2007 and finished third in championship points with 2001 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion Danny Lasoski behind the wheel. With the vast experience that the team has, Stewart is confident they will get up to speed quickly.
"I think it will help me quite a bit working with them," said Stewart, of his veteran crew. "The first year I competed on the full Outlaws tour, the team was more or less rookies. To have the knowledge all the way from Dennis Roth to Davey and Bonsai will be a plus."
Stewart looks forward to driving for the team which has had success for well over the last 10 years. Being a veteran of the sport, he knows that the team will face some challenges early in the season as they look to mesh and get on the same page. He views the opportunity to drive for the Roth Motorsports team as a chance to continue to hone his skills as a driver, as he will race the best in the world night in and night out.
"There is nobody that puts more pressure on me, than myself," explained the native of Bixby, Oklahoma. "I know that if I do my job and race hard every night, that the team will be happy with it as well. Dennis knows that we will have some ups and downs. My main concern is getting myself and Davey and Bonsai on the same page. After that, I think everything else will fall into place."
Stewart is fully prepared for the always demanding World of Outlaws schedule, as he competed over 70 times last season, including on a number of tracks that are on the 2008 schedule.
"Any time that you can run as many races as the Outlaws guys do that will help you," he shared. "I think that is what it takes to be successful. I think you have to run 90 races to keep yourself sharp mentally and physically."
Stewart had a great deal of success on the West Coast in 2007, as he won at six different tracks in the Pacific Northwest and California. He was victorious at Grays Harbor Raceway with the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series last August, to earn his second career A-Feature win on the tour.
"There are a lot of good tracks out west and it seemed to work out that last year almost everybody I ran for was from out west," said Stewart. "The trips out west at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year are one that I am definitely looking forward to."
Some of the tracks new to the series this season that Stewart will visit include: Dacotah Speedway in Mandan, North Dakota, Gillette Thunder Speedway in Gillette, Wyoming and Virginia Motor Speedway in Jamaica, Virginia.
"The tracks that are unique are a little bit of a challenge, but most of the tracks are very similar nowadays," he said. "It's all about getting your motor running good and your car working good and with that in place things are usually fine."
After winning a career-high number of events last year, Stewart returns to the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series with plenty of momentum in 2008. With his experience at a number of tracks that the series competes on, along with the vast experience of the Roth Motorsports team, Stewart is confident they can meet the goals he has set for the new racing season.
"Dennis Roth's car has always run up front in points and it's definitely a goal of mine to be able to run in the Top-Five in points," said Stewart. "If we got five or six wins, that would be a great season for me."