2008 World of Outlaws Season Review: Tony Bruce Jr. Concord, NC-- November 17, 2008--For the past two years, since hitting the road full-time with the World of Outlaws, every time that Tony Bruce Jr. returned home to Liberal, Kansas, he heard...
2008 World of Outlaws Season Review: Tony Bruce Jr.
Concord, NC-- November 17, 2008--For the past two years, since hitting the road full-time with the World of Outlaws, every time that Tony Bruce Jr. returned home to Liberal, Kansas, he heard one question. He heard it over and over again, and this past season he was able to answer the question once and for all. The question, when he was going to win a World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series event?
The sophomore driver accomplished that feat in impressive fashion, picking up his first career series win at 34 Raceway in Iowa on July 30, holding off 20-time series champion Steve Kinser for all 35 laps to win in the series inaugural visit to the 3/8-mile. He lined up on the pole after winning the Crane Cams Dash and had to endure a number of restarts late in the race, with the winningest sprint car driver in history, right on his tail tank. Making the win even more impressive was the fact that he did it with just one crew member and did a lot of the work on the car that night on his own. Bruce was the only driver this season to pick up their career win with the series.
The sophomore driver wrapped up the 2008 World of Outlaws season 14th in the championship standings, seven spots better than his rookie season of 2007 aboard the Best Well Service Maxim.
"With the win, it was all right, but it wasn't what we wanted or expected," shared Bruce when asked about his 2008 season. "We still struggle with qualifying and that is the name of the game when you run with the World of Outlaws. Maybe for '09 we can get our qualifying fixed a little bit and be in the hunt a little more."
Bruce returned to tracks for the second and third times this season as he continued to gain valuable experience night in and night out. He raced his way into the Crane Cams Dash seven times in 2008 to earn Top-10 starting spots in A-Feature events.
"It helped a little bit, but you are still racing against the best guys in the country every night," he noted. "Two years or ten years (experience), you are still racing with Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz, so no matter what, it is always going to be tough."
Bruce, who was one of the youngest full-time competitors with the World of Outlaws this season at the age of 24, continued to compete against a number of drivers that have been racing longer than he has been alive, but rather than look at that as an obstacle, he viewed it as a challenge to better himself and his team each time they rolled through the pit gate.
"It's not necessarily intimidating," said the native of Liberal, Kansas of the laps he turned in the last couple of seasons with the World of Outlaws. "You have to make sure that you have all of your stuff together whenever you get out there and you have to keep your mind right. You have to focus on the task at-hand, and not worry what Steve Kinser is going to do. You know that he is going to go fast, so you just have to go faster."
Looking to bolster his team, Bruce brought Kevin Loveys on board in August to serve as crew chief. The move paid off, as the team recorded several strong runs down the stretch, as they continued to test different combinations in preparation for the 2009 campaign.
"He has a great knowledge of the motor and the way that the car needs to handle around the race track," Bruce stated of Loveys. "Fortunately since he came on board, we were going a little bit better. He's here for '09 and hopefully we can carry a little of the momentum that we have picked up at the end of the year and carry it into next year."
In addition to his win at 34 Raceway, Bruce also picked up a Top-Five finish in the state of Iowa at the famed Knoxville Raceway in June in front of the cameras from SPEED, as he came home fourth. In his first trip to Billings Motorsports Park in Montana in August as part of the annual Gold Rush Tour, he finished fifth.
"The more laps that we can get anywhere, especially the big race tracks like the Grove and Eldora, mainly places that I had not raced at growing up, helps a lot," he explained. "That is definitely beneficial, but like I said, we are still racing against the best in the country and we have to just keep making laps."
Bruce recently wrapped up the 2008 season with a win and a runner-up finish in a two-day show in Texas last weekend. Following that event he headed back north to Kansas and is preparing for the 2009 season with his crew.
"We'll have a little bit of time (to rest and relax), but not too much, with the PRI show and Christmas and all the family things that we'll have to do," said the sophomore driver. "We have to get everything ready for next year, because January will be here before we know it and we'll be back down in Florida racing. The off-season will go quick."
The 2009 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series seasons kicks off February 6-8 at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida with the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH.