2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Preview: Terry McCarl Terry McCarl always is anxious and excited for a new racing season to begin, after a long and cold Iowa winter. This year he literally has an extra bounce in his...
2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Preview: Terry McCarl
Terry McCarl always is anxious and excited for a new racing season to begin, after a long and cold Iowa winter. This year he literally has an extra bounce in his step, after having 12 screws and a plate that were inserted into his left leg in 2006, removed during the off-season.
He arrived in Florida this week and will begin action tonight, as he prepares for the 2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws season opener, the 37th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals, which will roll off next Thursday night at Volusia Speedway Park.
"I'm definitely ready to get going," said McCarl, who has six career A-Feature wins with the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. "We all get tired during the season, but once you're home for a couple of weeks you are ready to go again."
McCarl tested the leg at the 22nd Annual Chili Bowl Midget Nationals a couple of weeks ago and turned in a very solid performance, charging from the C-Main into the A-Feature in just his second ever trip to the indoor event before a national television audience.
"It actually helped," he said of having the hardware removed from his leg. "Last off-season I was not able to do a lot, and this year I feel a lot better. I let the leg fully heal and did not do any racing in New Zealand or Australia. I just wanted to make sure it got fully healed. I've was able to start working out on it again which was nice."
McCarl is very pleased with the team that he has assembled this year with veteran crew chiefs Troy Renfro and Tyler Swank turning the wrenches. Swank joined the team during the second half of 2007 and Renfro has also worked with both McCarl and Swank in the past. Rather than designate either as crew chief, they will both serve as car chiefs or co-team leaders and share equally in the responsibilities of providing a fast race car each and every night for McCarl.
"It will be good having those guys working for me," said the veteran driver. "Tyler and Troy are both proven crew chiefs and we have another guy coming in from Australia to help out. You have to have a really good team out here, because you are only as strong as your weakest link. Everyone will be able to do everything and if one person falters, the others will be able to pick up the slack. It's a tough schedule out here and always has been and you definitely need good people and I am very happy with what we have."
With over 20 teams expected to compete full-time with the series again this season, the level of competition continues to grow. Being a veteran of the sport, McCarl knows that it takes many elements to be successful on the road for the 80-plus race schedule that stretches from February until early November.
"The competition is always tough out here, and that is why any driver or car owner wants to run with the World of Outlaws," he noted. "It's the best of the best. Being out on the road for 80 or 90 races a year will drag you down, I don't care who you are, mentally and physically, as well as monetarily. To run a full season is a lot more difficult than people think."
The team will continue to be based out of McCarl's shop in Altoona, Iowa, and he will have a couple of extra opportunities to compete this season at his two home tracks. The series will visit the famed Knoxville Raceway on two separate occasions in April and June for a total of three nights of racing on the half-mile and also will make two visits to Huset's Speedway in Brandon, South Dakota in the spring. He is a six-time track champion at Knoxville and also a six-time champion at Huset's, as well as being the winningest driver at Huset's in a 410-sprint car.
"We always look forward to coming home," said the Iowa native. "We are lucky being right outside of Des Moines. It's centrally located and we get home more than most teams. We're lucky where we live opposed to some of the guys from Pennsylvania or California that don't get home as much as we do. Having Knoxville, Iowa right in our backyard is an asset. It is the best track in the world. You definitely always look forward to getting home."
McCarl won twice last season with the series, including in a thrilling battle with two-time defending Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz at K-C Raceway in Ohio before a national audience on television. He also was victorious for the first time in a World of Outlaws event at Knoxville Raceway. He wrapped up the season 12th in championship points and 11th in car owner points on the strength of 32 Top-10 finishes.
One of the highlights of the 2007 season for McCarl was finishing third in the Knoxville Nationals, as he strives to become the first driver from the state of Iowa to win sprint car racing's biggest event. He also earned a Top-Five finish in the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway.
"I think we are definitely a contender for the Kings Royal and the Knoxville Nationals," he said. "We need to step it up as far as Chico (Gold Cup Race of Champions) and Williams Grove are concerned. We know we are contenders at Knoxville and Eldora and those are two of the biggest races, so that feels good."
Heading into the 2008 season, McCarl has a couple of goals, after suffering a rash of bad luck in 2007.
"We definitely want to finish better in the points," he noted. "I think we are a Top-Five team. I really want to pick off a win at Eldora and one of the big races. Our general goals are to win more races and to finish better in points. Hopefully with that, the bigger race wins will come."