2007 World of Outlaws Preview: Paul McMahan Concord, NC -- Feb. 2, 2007 -- Paul McMahan and his Tony Stewart Racing team have been anxiously awaiting the 36th Annual DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Mopar Speedshop at Volusia Speedway Park,...
2007 World of Outlaws Preview: Paul McMahan
Concord, NC -- Feb. 2, 2007 -- Paul McMahan and his Tony Stewart Racing team have been anxiously awaiting the 36th Annual DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Mopar Speedshop at Volusia Speedway Park, February 9-11. The team has been working endlessly since the final checkered flag flew last season, as they continue to gear up for the 2007 World of Outlaws campaign. They moved into a brand new state-of-the-art shop in Brownsburg, Indiana, at the start of the year. In addition, they welcomed Chevrolet to the team, and will have their power under the hood all season long.
A very consistent 2006 season saw McMahan finish sixth in the National Sprint Tour standings, on the strength of 25 Top-10 finishes. He also claimed a World of Outlaws A-Feature win in the series inaugural visit to USA Race Park in Tucson Arizona, along with picking up 14 Top-10 finishes while competing in a portion of the schedule.
McMahan spent over a month this off-season competing in Australia as he filled in for the injured Drew Kruck, son of World of Outlaws team owner Reeve Kruck. In his first race in the car, McMahan set fast time and finished third in the A-Feature. He would go on to rack up nine Top-Five finishes in his stint Down Under.
"Anytime you can get in a race car to get in shape before the first races of our season, that is a good thing," said McMahan, who has four career World of Outlaws A-Feature wins. "We were down there running 40 and 50-lap features on quarter-mile bullrings, and that gets you in shape pretty fast."
McMahan, a California native, who now calls Nashville home, raced against many fellow World of Outlaws competitors while in Australia. He believes that every time he straps into the car, he gains knowledge and experience, which ultimately help him continue to grow and improve as a driver.
"You always learn something in a race car," he explained. "Every day is a new adventure no matter where you are at in dirt track racing. With different surfaces in dirt track racing, the tracks are always changing. Anytime that you are driving one or working on one trying to make the car better is always a plus for you."
For the first time ever, the DIRTcar Nationals will encompass three full nights of racing this year at Volusia Speedway Park. With a record number of teams starting the year off full-time with the World of Outlaws, in addition to the competitors from the O'Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions that will be on hand, as well as the always tough drivers from Pennsylvania, McMahan expects the event to be extremely challenging for the drivers, but also very entertaining for the fans.
"That is probably the toughest event of the year other than the Knoxville Nationals," he commented, after arriving in the Sunshine State. "Everybody that comes to Florida has fresh stuff. Sometimes later on in the season people's stuff is not as good, since it gets tired and worn out, and they do not have time to replenish all of their stock. You're coming here for the first race of the year and every one has fresh motors and brand new race cars, and a lot of spares to keep going. It's always one of the toughest races of the year."
This will be McMahan's second season behind the wheel for two-time NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart's team. While he has an unending drive to win on the track, Stewart relates to the trials and tribulations that are involved with competing as many times as the World of Outlaws do over the course of a season, as well as living on the road.
"Tony definitely knows what a driver goes through day in and day out," shared McMahan. "He understands the racing bit of it. He is no different than any of the other owners I have driven for over the year. He wants to win races as bad as me, like everyone else on this team. One thing I can say is that when we are struggling, Tony is the first one there to give you a vote of confidence, and try to boost you up and try to figure out what is wrong, because he has been in that situation before. He's always looking to improve our team."
McMahan is very well prepared for the nearly 90 races that await him and his fellow competitors, including five events at Eldora Speedway, which is owned by his boss. The always optimistic driver is also looking forward to racing in his native state of California a number of times. Over the years, he has learned how to pace himself physically and mentally over the course of the always grueling season that lasts from February until early November, that takes the competitors from coast-to-coast multiple times.
"Experience helps you to stay fresh," he said. "After you have been doing it for a while you know what to expect and what to take. I know when I first came out on the road the first couple of years around June and July it would really wear on you. Now I try to get enough sleep and exercise all winter long to stay in shape, so I can be in good shape later on in the season. It's just experience that helps you get through all that stuff and the tough times."
With nearly 30 cars starting the season out full-time, the fan favorite knows the importance that will be present every time his car rolls onto the track. Last season in World of Outlaws competition, he set fast time on three occasions including in the series inaugural visit to the blazing fast high-banks of U.S. 36 Raceway in Missouri, where he turned a lap of 9.846 seconds to set a new track record. He also won two dashes and earned one pole position during 2006.
"When you have about 28 cars running every night, that's four cars from our group alone that will not make the A-Main every night," stated McMahan. "That's telling you that you have to qualify well and that heat races are going to mean a lot. It's added pressure, but it's very welcomed by me. When you are racing with the best of the best, and you want to be the best of the best, you couldn't ask for anything better than to have 28 or so traveling teams at one time."
With Crew Chief Jimmy Carr back again this season, McMahan is confident the team will contend for wins night in and night out. They learned every time they hit the track last season, and look to use that knowledge and experience to build on the solid foundation they have established.
"We want to win races and contend for a championship," McMahan said. "Last year was Jimmy (Carr) and my first year together and we had our tough times, and struggled a little bit toward the middle of the season. I think at the end of the season we began to run more consistently in the Top-Five. Whenever you run consistently in the Top-Five you are going to win races. I'm looking forward to another year with Jimmy Carr. Like most great teams, the longer you are together the better the team is. This is our second year together and I am really looking forward to it."