Back in the Swing of Things: Hannagan Heads to Lebanon Valley West Lebanon, NY--July 21, 2006 -- It is usually pretty tough to convince a racer to climb out of his car, let alone have him voluntarily give up the seat. But for Mean 15 driver ...
Back in the Swing of Things: Hannagan Heads to Lebanon Valley
West Lebanon, NY--July 21, 2006 -- It is usually pretty tough to convince a racer to climb out of his car, let alone have him voluntarily give up the seat.
But for Mean 15 driver Randy Hannagan, he was faced with this exact decision earlier this season. He was in Charlotte preparing for the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown when he received a call on May 23 that his mother's health had taken a turn for the worse.
Hannagan quickly boarded an airplane headed to his native San Jose, Calif., to be at her side with the rest of his family. Racing took a back seat as he remained home for a couple of weeks while his Terry Hannagan Racing team remained on the World of Outlaws Sprint Series tour with Gary Wright and then Sean Michael piloting the car.
"Unfortunately my mom was sick at home in California and we wanted to be with her at her side," said Hannagan, winner of the 1995 World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented By Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt. "That was six or eight weeks ago and now things are going pretty well. Now we can concentrate on racing again."
If he had to make the decision again he would do the same thing and step out of the car. Racing is how he makes his living, but his family is far more important than any race.
"When something like that happens, it doesn't matter if it is sprint cars, Indy cars or stock cars, it puts it all in perspective," he said. "There will always be more races that you will be able to go to. I looked at it from that frame of mind, and we're back racing. It all worked out."
Hannagan was pleased with the performance of the team during his five-race absence, as it remained in the top 10 in owner points.
"I let the guys go and do it on their own," Hannagan said. "I gave them a few suggestions, and they came back to me with a few things that they did. That made me proud of the guys, because they thought outside the box. We're going to try to apply that the next couple of races."
When Hannagan returned to the car on June 3 at Eldora Speedway, he turned in a masterful performance. He finished seventh in the feature on the intimidating track.
Since then, Hannagan, who now resides in Pittsboro, Ind., has earned seven more Top-10 finishes. He tied his season-best of third at Huset's Speedway on July 3 after winning the dash to earn the pole position.
Hannagan is looking forward to making the trip to Lebanon Valley Speedway on Sunday for the series' lone visit this season to the sprawling half-mile. He has raced there a few times in the past and believes he has a good baseline for what the team needs to be fast.
"For New York, we'll go back through the books and look at what we did last time we were up there a couple of years ago," Hannagan said. "Lebanon Valley is Lebanon Valley, there is no other way to look at it. It's a testy racetrack. We have to go out there and try to get around there without getting into the fence."
For Hannagan and the rest of the Mean 15 drivers, every lap in warm-ups will be vital to helping get a good reading on the track. Being a veteran driver, Hannagan is used to adapting quickly to changing tracks and making changes on the fly to make the car as fast as possible.
"You can't go dive down and hit the apron at Lebanon Valley, because it will get you in the fence," he said. "I've had that happen and watched a couple of cars over the years have that happen. You know that as being part of the racetrack, from being there in the past. You know its characteristics."
Hannagan is excited for the fans in Eastern New York, as this will be their only chance of the year to see the World of Outlaws.
"That definitely is DIRT Modified country," Hannagan said. "With the sprint cars coming up there with the 410-engines, hopefully we can put on a great show for the fans. Hopefully that will help them want us back for more events in the future."
Hannagan is excited for the rest of the season now that he is back in the swing of things, and finding a good rhythm. He especially looks forward to heading out to the West Coast to some of the tracks he knows very well, but first he is ready to tackle the tracks on the East Coast, as the series heads to New York for the second time this season.
"The team is where I want it to be," Hannagan said. "I know we are not getting the finishes I want, but we're working on them. Having a new sponsor on board with Penthouse Magazine will help us raise the bar. We will do the best job that we can."
Hannagan currently is 10th in series points on the strength of five top-five finishes to go along with 12 finishes in the top-10. Hannagan has had some strong runs at the past at Lebanon Valley Speedway and knows a good qualifying lap will set the tone for the night on the always fast and spacious half-mile.