HOMETOWN HEROES: Terry McCarl, Justin Henderson Lead World of Outlaws Into Knoxville, Huset's Norman, OK -- April 25, 2006 -- With the grueling schedule the Mean 15 racers run while following the World of Outlaws Sprint Series circuit, it's not...
HOMETOWN HEROES: Terry McCarl, Justin Henderson Lead World of Outlaws Into Knoxville, Huset's
Norman, OK -- April 25, 2006 -- With the grueling schedule the Mean 15 racers run while following the World of Outlaws Sprint Series circuit, it's not very often drivers can sleep in their own beds at night. Many nights are spent in a hotel room or in a motor home while driving countless miles to the next race. Home-cooked meals are few and far between, and truck stops become a haven for the determined racer.
But for a couple of drivers racing this weekend with the World of Outlaws, a little home cooking is just what they need. Not only will they be able to sleep in their own beds and have a home-cooked meal, they can work on their sleek racing machines in their own shops and still get some household chores finished that usually go undone during the season.
Terry McCarl hails from Altoona, Iowa, just a stone's throw away from the legendary Knoxville Raceway, a track he knows very well. He has won six championships at the half-mile facility in 410-winged sprint cars, in addition to winning his 42nd feature event just last Saturday night. The driver of the No. 24 Big Game Treestands Eagle also holds the single-lap record of 14.907 seconds, a mark he set last August. On Saturday, fans can see McCarl's machine, along with Brooke Tatnell's Garlic Jim's Pizza/Castrol Eagle, from noon to 2 p.m. at South Ridge Mall in Des Moines.
"It's nice being home as far as being relaxed," McCarl said. "It's good for the crew. They can have everything super clean and all the maintenance on the car done. All my sponsors are based out of here, and my whole family comes to the race. It's the one place I really want to do well, and I do place some extra pressure on myself to do well. It helped to win last Saturday, that took a little of the pressure off."
Also on this weekend's World of Outlaws docket is an event Sunday at Huset's Speedway in Brandon, S.D., another facility where McCarl has won six titles. In fact, he has won 76 feature races at Huset's, more than twice as many as anyone in the history of the track.
"I've just raced at them so often that I know the tracks pretty well," a confident McCarl said. "They are a few of my favorite tracks. Huset's is probably my favorite small track, and Knoxville is my favorite big track."
Justin Henderson, who is running for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Maxim and Butler Built, also is very familiar with Huset's and Knoxville. A native of Sioux Falls, S.D., Henderson has won 360- and 410-sprint car championships at the 3/8th-mile track in Brandon, S.D. He has nine wins in the 360 division and five in a 410 sprinter.
Henderson currently is 11th in points this season, ironically only 11 points out of the top-10 in the standings with a couple of Top-10 finishes in this young season.
"It's nice to get home and look over the house and do some yard work as well," Henderson said. "Though it would be better if my wife was home, she is serving on Guard duty right now. Traveling doesn't bother me, but it's always good to be home."
Not only does Henderson have plenty of laps at Huset's and Knoxville, but he also has plenty of fans that will pack the stands to see him return as a Mean 15 racer with his No. D1 Jolt Energy Gum/Race Girl Schnee, which will be on display from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Kum & Go station near Knoxville and from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on May 5 at the Hy-Vee Grocery Store in St. Joseph, Mo., before the Missouri High-Banked Nationals presented by Weld Wheels later that night.
"I really want to do good at our home track," Henderson said. "All the people will be there cheering for me. These are the people that have seen me race for a while, and have supported me. That adds a little pressure, but we'll be OK. We're pulling out a new car and will have a new shock package. We'll see what the car and I can do."
Both McCarl and Henderson are preparing for the heart of the schedule that will have them on the road for weeks on end, traveling from coast-to-coast in search of wins.
"The schedule so far has been lax," Henderson said. "We're trying to prepare mentally for when the races pick up. I need to be ready for the middle of the summer. My dad has been on the road and he knows how tough it can be and he is helping me prepare."
McCarl knows the rigors of running a full season on sprint car racing's top circuit. He finished ninth in points last year on the World of Outlaws tour, earning a spot in this year's Mean 15.
"The first part of the season has been pretty good as far as us being able to get home," McCarl said. "We've been coming home quite a bit at this point, but we'll only have a few more weeks where we'll have that luxury. My crew has done a great job and has us really ready. We just have to keep on top of everything. Motors are always your top focus, and making sure you have a good spare car ready to go."
McCarl and Henderson may be able to relax off the track in the confines of their homes this week, but on the track they will do battle every lap with the best sprint car drivers in the world, as the World of Outlaws roll into Knoxville Raceway and Huset's Speedway for a weekend of speed and excitement.