2007 World of Outlaws Rookie Profile: Zach Chappell Concord, NC--March 7, 2007-- Zach Chappell has always enjoyed challenges. Whether it's on the track or away from it, he rises to whatever situation is presented to him, and the young driver ...
2007 World of Outlaws Rookie Profile: Zach Chappell
Concord, NC--March 7, 2007-- Zach Chappell has always enjoyed challenges. Whether it's on the track or away from it, he rises to whatever situation is presented to him, and the young driver learns from these experiences as well. He will face plenty of challenges this season as competes with the World of Outlaws full-time and contends for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award.
With a record number of cars on the road with the World of Outlaws this year, Chappell knows he will face an uphill battle each and every night. From hot laps until the final checkered flag of the night falls, every time he takes to the track will be important. With only a handful of starts in a 410-sprint car to his credit, he gains more and more confidence each time he straps into the cockpit.
"We're basically just learning right now," said Chappell, a native of Talala, Oklahoma. "That's one way to look at it. We're just trying to get our feet wet. We have done that for sure. We've had to rebuild some stuff, but things are still looking up, and we're looking for the best."
With nearly 90 races on the schedule stretching from February until early November, he will visit numerous tracks for the first time. Two weeks ago, he made his first visit to the racy 1/3-mile high-banked Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California. While he endured some bad luck, he was able to gain some valuable experience and precious track time, which will help him greatly as the season goes on.
"I prefer going to new places," Chappell explained. "The big reason we are doing this is to see different tracks and move around the country quite a bit. I like it that way, and to me it seems more fun when you go somewhere new. It's different than going to a local track with local cars. Instead you are going to different tracks, with World of Outlaws guys. They will put you in your place pretty quick, so you have to catch on quick. I like the traveling and we will not have a problem doing this deal. We'll just try to keep things going forward."
Chappell races against the best of the best each night. While for some young drivers it may be intimidating lining up against the likes of Steve Kinser, Danny Lasoski, Donny Schatz, and Joey Saldana, it doesn't seem to faze Chappell too much. He is used to usually being one of the youngest drivers at the track, and tries to learn all he can by observing the veteran drivers.
"I try not to think about it too much," he commented, while pondering if he ever is star-struck in the staging lane for an event. "Of course you think of it a little and it goes through your head. I race them just as clean as they race me. If they get dirty, we can get dirty, but I would rather not. I like to just race and that is what I'm here to do and that's what they're here to do. We're all trying to make a living at it. John Kantor has given me a great opportunity with this Hard Eight Racing Team, with Ray Brooks as the crew chief. Hopefully, we'll keep plugging away at it and see what happens."
A key part of the team is the aforementioned Ray Brooks, who is one of the most respected mechanics in the pit area. Having a veteran crew chief on board is a major plus for Chappell, as he continues to visit many tracks for the first time.
"Ray has seen all of these tracks, and he can tell me what to look for," stated Chappell. "He can't necessarily tell me how to drive the car, but he can tell me the positions not to get myself into. He's helped me out a lot. We're still a new team and learning how to talk to each other. He's trying to figure out what I like and I'm trying to figure out what he likes to do. We'll keep at it, and we'll get it figured out eventually."
Chappell has had a great deal of racing 360-sprint cars, including claiming the 2001 American Sprint Car Series (ASCS) Championship. From 2000-2004 he finished in the Top-Five in ASCS points each season. He has seven career wins with that series. He also tried his hand on the pavement, competing in a handful of events with the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) in 2005. After running four events at the end of the 2006 season with the World of Oultlaws, Chappell is adapting to the differences between 360 and 410-sprint cars, and feels more comfortable every time he climbs into the seat.
"It's not really the speed you have to concentrate on, but more the closing time," he shared. "In an Outlaws car, you close on other cars much quicker than in a 360. That's what we have to adjust to. I have to adjust to it, and everyone is being patient with me. We'll keep fighting and see what happens."
While his ultimate goal is to win the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award, he mainly wants to continue to learn and run up front each night. He turned in a very solid qualifying effort last weekend, as he was one of 32 drivers to shatter the track record at USA Race Park in Tucson on March 2. He followed that up by earning a spot in the A-Feature at Manzanita Speedway on March 3.
"We want to know that the team can compete at all levels," Chappell said. "I think it can, John (Kantor) the owner thinks it can, and Ray (Brooks) thinks it can. We're going to keep thinking that, and prove to all these guys that we belong out here with the best."