Woodward Racing announced December 6, 2003 that Dean Jacobs would pilot their sprint car for the 2004 season.
Owner Larry Woodward confirmed Saturday that he has selected Jacobs to drive for his upcoming assault on the 2004 World of Outlaws schedule, with additional competitive ventures including forays into other winged and non winged racing events as their schedule will permit.
"We are proud to announce that we have invited Dean Jacobs to be our perminant driver throughout the entire World of Outlaws 2004 season," said Woodward.
"Dean came to the team with the utmost enthusiasm. Because of this we are excited at Woodward Racing to have Dean at the controls. Mike Thurman will remain as chief mechanic again this year, along with Mike Briggs to help make things happen. We plan on campaigning across the country with the World of Outlaws tour, and stopping off throughout the year to race with other associations when time permits. Volcano Joe's Coffee Company is the primary sponsor for the 2004 through 2006 seasons. A special thanks is in order to you, the fans, promoters, and all the other drivers who considered driving for us, and helping this exciting team happen," concluded Larry and Lori Woodward.
Thurman and Jacobs are no strangers when it comes to working together, and Jacobs exudes all the confidence in the world when he related his past forays in competition with Thurman as his crew chief.
"We worked together for about two weeks at the end of the 1999 season," recalled Jacobs. "We raced nine times and had several top ten finishes with the World of Outlaws. Our best finish was fourth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. We work very well together and I'm excited about the opportunity to work again with Mike at this stage in my career. It's going to be a great year."
Woodward Racing, with Thurman as crew chief, fielded the winning car at Sprint Car racing's richest event ever held, the non-winged MOPAR Million, winning $200,000 at Eldora Speedway in September of 2003.
Jacobs also ran strong at the MOPAR Million non-winged event. Qualifying seventh in the 138-car field, Jacobs won the seventh of ten 12-lap qualifying heat races from the sixth starting spot. He charged from his fourth starting position in the MOPAR Million finale to take the lead on lap two. Jacobs, in a rare wingless appearance, held the lead through lap twenty in sprint car racing's largest paying event, before finishing seventh and earning $23,000.
Hardly an understatement, Jacobs reflected on the possibilities of running the wingless events that Woodward had eluded to, saying "With our success at the MOPAR Million, I'm looking forward to any other races (wing or non-wing) that Our schedule will allow."
Jacobs was a multiple race winner in 2003, including the $15,000 to win Brad Doty Classic at Attica Raceway Park in July, which Jacobs described as "the most rewarding of my career."
The Attica victory was especially sweet for Jacobs, as he grew up with the event's namesake, former World of Outlaws driver Brad Doty.
Jacobs' 2003 campaign also included All Star Circuit of Champions sanctioned event wins at the Jetmore Motorplex, Tri-State Speedway, and the New Capital Speedway en route to a third place point standing finish with one of the most competitive series in the country. Jacobs also scored point wins with the NCRA at Auto Tire and Parts Race Park, Tri-State Speedway, Jetmore Motorplex, and New Capital Speedway to earn second in the 2003 NCRA point standings.
"After several phone conversations we met together on Friday at the PRI show in Indianapolis, and I'm extremely excited to be driving for Larry Woodward," said Jacobs. "He's proven himself as a first class car owner and provides first class equipment for his team. A driver couldn't ask for anything more and I'm honored to have the opportunity."
"I've been driving sprint cars for 22 years," said Woodward's new driver. "The last seven years I've had the opportunity to race full-time. I think I've learned a great deal over the years. The experience Mike Thurman brings to this team and the equipment that Larry provides is a combination of what it takes to have success. When I raced on the World of Outlaws tour in 1999 I made some mistakes, primarily because I was trying too hard. I've matured over the last several years as a driver and I'm sure I will use that experience to my advantage this year. I've been to most of the tracks on the World of Outlaw schedule. There probably will be some new tracks this season and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
"I've had several great opportunities to race, but this has to be the best opportunity I've had to race with the World of Outlaws," stated Jacobs. "Over the winter I can focus on getting into great physical shape and being on top of the game when the season comes around in February."