Tony Bruce Jr. Earns Career Best Finish in Eckerd Outlaw Showdown Tony Bruce Jr. idolized many World of Outlaws driver when he was growing up in Liberal, Kansas and now he himself is an Outlaw On Friday night in the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown at...
Tony Bruce Jr. Earns Career Best Finish in Eckerd Outlaw Showdown
Tony Bruce Jr. idolized many World of Outlaws driver when he was growing up in Liberal, Kansas and now he himself is an Outlaw On Friday night in the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway, he had the chance to run at the front of the field and race with reigning series champion Donny Schatz, as well as 2001 titlist Danny Lasoski and 20-time champion Steve Kinser among others.
When the checkered flag flew, Bruce had earned a career-best finish of third in the 30-lap event. He began the night by turning the fifth fastest lap in time trials, and later finished seventh in the Crane Cams Dash.
"It's a dream come true," said Bruce, Driver of the Best Well Service Maxim. "I have always dreamed about racing with these guys and beating these guys."
The reigning Knoxville Nationals Rookie of the Year lined up for the 30-lap A-Feature in the seventh spot. A complete restart was in order after a red flag flew on the initial start, and Bruce moved up a row on the restart.
He gained a couple of spots on the ninth lap after the two cars running ahead of him got together and caused a caution, sending them to the rear of the field. On the next lap he passed eventual race winner Donny Schatz to move into the fourth spot, before Schatz took the position back. On the 13th circuit he got around 2001 World of Outlaws Champion Danny Lasoski for the third spot, where he would run the rest of the night.
"We weren't too bad," lamented the young driver. "I wish we could have gotten in lapped traffic. I thought we had a really good car in traffic. We put a gear in it so we could come up off the bottom and try to make some passes. We're getting better. We made some changes and keep working."
Bruce and his team are in the midst of some personnel and equipment changes that will keep them busy en route to the event at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in New York on Memorial Day. After enduring some bad luck earlier in the season, Bruce evaluated where the team was and decided to shuffle some of the pieces around with the schedule picking up.
"I have to thank my crew chief Jesse Douglas, that was his last race on Friday night," said Bruce. "I am glad to send him out with such a performance."
Bruce competed in a number of World of Outlaws event in 2006 in preparation for a run at the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award this season. That experience he gained last year visiting countless tracks for the first time is beginning to pay off, as he continues to run strong and move up in the point standings.
Last season in his first visit to The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway, Bruce was the 10th quickest car in time trials, with a stellar 51 car field on hand. Having a good baseline to go off of this year, he was confident heading into the event in the heart of stock car country, which drew a sold out crowd of over 14,000 fans.
"We were really looking forward to coming back to Charlotte," he said. "Last year we had such a good car and had some bad luck and did not make it out of the heat or the B-Main. We had something go wrong in both races. Hopefully what we did on Friday night is a sign of things to come."
The track became rougher as the race went on Friday night, and it took all of Bruce's focus to make sure he was running the line he wanted to run. After the race, Bruce was a little winded on a pretty warm evening, after not only battling 25 other competitors but also the racing surface itself.
"My inexperience kind of showed on some laps," said Bruce. "I would hit the holes and tell myself not to hit those holes. I made some mistakes, but I kept thinking about running a good race, and passing cars. As long as I kept the car underneath me, I knew that I could pass cars and that I could keep moving forward."
With nearly 60 races left on the schedule, Bruce will still visit many tracks for the first time, but like Friday night he will return to tracks that he has raced at a time or two and that will definitely be an advantage for him. He is currently 20th overall in series championship points and second in the chase for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award. With a solid base that he began to establish late last season, including earning his first career World of Outlaws Top-10 finish at Knoxville Raceway last October, Bruce is optimistic for the rest of this season.
"Hopefully there is more of this to come," smiled Bruce, as he received a handshake from veteran World of Outlaws driver Daryn Pittman while loading his trailer on Friday night.