Kerry Madsen Wins 2007 World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award After a very consistent season, Kerry Madsen was officially named the 2007 World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year on Monday night during the annual...
Kerry Madsen Wins 2007 World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award
After a very consistent season, Kerry Madsen was officially named the 2007 World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year on Monday night during the annual Night of Champions, which was held at the Hilton University Plaza in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Madsen won on the second night of the season during the 36th Annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park to firmly entrench himself in the lead in the rookie standings. His win at Volusia was one of the most emotional triumphs of his career, as it came just days before the passing of his car owner Dave Helm.
"That was unreal," said Madsen of his first career World of Outlaws A-Feature win. "It was a surreal weekend. Being able to win a race early before Dave's passing probably was the highlight of the year."
Madsen was also able to honor his late car owner in October at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California in the first annual Dave Helm Memorial. The high-banked track is located just 30 miles from the team's home base in Selma. With the Helm family in attendance, Madsen and a number of other drivers and crew members that had been a part of the team over the years, assembled on the front straightaway and presented plaques to the Helm family. Madsen also took a couple of tribute laps on the track in his familiar No. 11H, which Helm campaigned for many years, to honor one of the most respected car owners in World of Outlaws history.
"I was looking for a better run than fifth and we had a better car than that, but I kind of made a mistake and lost a bunch of spots," said the racer in Madsen. "It was still good to run well there in front of Dave's family and his friends. That is where the team is based, so that was a good run. We were proud to be part of the event."
The native of St. Mary's, NSW, joins a list of very esteemed drivers that have won the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award including two-time and reigning World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz, who was the top rookie in 1997, fellow two-time champion Mark Kinser who earned the honor in 1984 and 1989 titlist Bobby Davis Jr., who was the top rookie in 1980.
Current World of Outlaws drivers that have earned the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award include: Randy Hannagan in 1995, Joey Saldana in 1996, Tim Shaffer in 1999, Jason Sides in 2003, Kraig Kinser in 2004 and Chad Kemenah in 2006.
"To be honest we never really set our goal to be the rookie of the year, but it's a cool deal to have," said Madsen, driver of the Selma Shell Maxim. "It was one of those deals where if you ran well it would take care of itself. Now that we won it, it's pretty cool."
Madsen knew that he would be up against the toughest competition night in and night out competing with the World of Outlaws full-time for the first time in his career this past season, though he was confident knowing he had longtime World of Outlaws crew chief Sonny Kratzer turning the wrenches for him. To prepare for the 2007 season, he competed in a very rigorous schedule in his native land of Australia, during the off-season in the United States. When the final stats were tallied up, he competed nearly 100 times in 2007.
"No doubt about it, it helped," smiled Madsen of his ambitious schedule leading in the World of Outlaws season. "We raced the weekend before in Australia, then flew back and raced in Florida. It is a help, but most of these guys are so good that it's not a big deal, but I think it helps."
With nearly 30 full-time teams starting the season with the World of Outlaws and 21 still competing at the end of the year, the 2007 season was one of the most competitive seasons in the 29 year history of the series. Madsen, the 2005 Knoxville Raceway track champion was used to competing again top-notch competition and rose to the occasion each and every night.
"I enjoyed every minute of it and the competition," he said. "From that side, it probably was my toughest year. You'd have to ask the guys that have been out here for 10 years about if it was the toughest season ever. I loved every minute of it."
Madsen capped the year off in style, winning his second race of the campaign at Perris Auto Speedway in California, in his first visit to the half-mile. He led all 30 laps of the A-Feature, after winning the Crane Cams Dash to earn the pole position, holding off Danny Lasoski, Jason Solwold and Donny Schatz for the win.
"It may have been my first time there, but the team has been there before, so I think that neutralized it a bit," explained the always determined driver of his win at Perris. "You just to adapt and come out of the box with a good set-up. We were quick off the bat in qualifying and it all worked out."
Madsen claimed the rookie title by more than 1200 points, one of the largest margins in the history of the award. Overall, he was 13th in the championship standings, on the strength of 23 Top-10 finishes and 10 Top-Fives.
He also set fast time in time trials on three occasions during the season, including establishing new tracks records in qualifying at Manzanita Speedway in Arizona and at Orange County Fair Speedway in New York, two of the most historic tracks that the World of Outlaws compete on. He also claimed two wins in the Crane Cams Dash to earn pole positions in A-Feature events, along with earning the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Award, five times.
With the 2007 season in the books, Madsen is preparing to return to Australia to compete a few times before returning to the United States for the holiday season.
The 2008 World of Outlaws season begins on February 8 at Volusia Speedway Park with the 37th Annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals.
Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Winners
1980-Bobby Davis Jr.
1982- Brad Doty
1983-No award issues
1984-Mark Kinser, Greg Wooley
1985-No award issues
1986- Johnny Herrera
1987- Chris Eash
2002-No award issues
2007- Kerry Madsen