2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Preview: Tony Bruce Jr. Tony Bruce Jr. knew he would learn quite a bit during his rookie season with the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series in 2007 and after an ...
2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Preview: Tony Bruce Jr.
Tony Bruce Jr. knew he would learn quite a bit during his rookie season with the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series in 2007 and after an off-season spent working hard in the shop, he is ready to put all that of that knowledge and experience he gained last year to good use, as he will take to the road again with the series in 2008.
The season will kick off for him in Florida in just a couple of weeks, as he will prepare for the 37th Annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park on February 8. Last season at Volusia, Bruce was quickest in time trials in the finale of the three-day event with a stout field of over 50 cars in attendance.
"We're ready to go," said Bruce. "We are finishing up a few things in the shop, and we'll definitely be more prepared than we were in 2007. We've had a season of trial and error and learned a lot of things. We are ready to get the 2008 season started."
While Bruce is one of the youngest full-time competitors with the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series at the age of 23, he doesn't let that fact intimidate him. Each time he takes to the track, he feels more confident racing against the veterans that have been out there for 20 or 30 years.
"A lot of the guys out here have been racing longer than I have even been alive, so to gain that experience to run with them night in and night out has been a lot of help, and will continue to help" explained the second-year driver. "You have to take the learning curves and build off of those to help get to where those guys are at."
Ever since he began racing junior sprints in 1996, it was Bruce's goal to one day race with the World of Outlaws. After competing in a few races in 2006, he made the jump last season to compete full-time again the best sprint car drivers in the world. In his first full year in a 410-sprint car, he turned in several strong runs, many coming at tracks he was visiting for the first time.
"This is where I have wanted to be my entire life," he noted. "I have been racing all of my life as well, and the only difference is that they (the veteran drivers) are about 20 years older than me. I'm doing the same things that they were doing when they were 23."
While he learned a number of valuable lessons on the track last season, one of the most important things that Bruce learned was away from the track, and that was being fully prepared when the team arrives at a track, and all of the hard work that is necessary in the off-season to be prepared for the always demanding World of Outlaws season that stretches from February until early November.
"You have to always be aware of your surroundings and have things in order," said the native of Liberal, Kansas. "Preparation by race teams is a bigger deal now than it ever has been in the past. You can tell the people that have their things in order and are ready to go as well as those who aren't. For example we lost a lot of time in the work area last year, mainly because we had never been in those situations before. We have a lot of those things tied up for this year. Preparation is big to run the World of Outlaws tour."
After utilizing a number of different team members throughout the 2007 season, Bruce found the right combination near the end of the year and is confident in the crew he has returning for 2008. They share the same enthusiasm that he has for sprint car racing and have the motivation and drive to run at the front of the field.
"The team is coming together real well," he shared. "I'll have the exact same guys I had with me toward the end of last year. That is definitely a good thing."
With over 20 cars expected to compete full time this season with the World of Outlaws, the level of competition will be just as high it was last year during Bruce's rookie campaign. He looks at that level of competition as something that will help him continue to improve as a driver each time he hits the track.
"It's always going to be tough, even if there were only 15 cars out here, because they would be the best cars," Bruce said. "Any way you look at it, whether its 15 or 25 cars out there it's going to be real tough, especially when we go to Pennsylvania and California where the locals always run very well."
Bruce visited a number of tracks for the first time last season and with that experience, he is ready to hit the road again this year in Florida for the nearly 90 race schedule that awaits him, including a number of tracks that were not on the schedule in 2007. He will have the opportunity to race in his home state twice, as the World of Outlaws will again contest the Boothill Showdown this season at Dodge City Raceway Park in Dodge City, Kansas.
"I am really looking forward to going back to all of them and getting back on the race track," said the 2006 Knoxville Nationals Rookie of the Year. "There aren't any tracks I don't want to go to. I can't wait to get back out there and start competing."
After gaining valuable experience last season and recording several strong runs, including a career-best third-place finish in the Rite Aid Outlaws Showdown at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway in May, and a very solid fourth-place showing at I-55 Raceway in Missouri in July, Bruce is confident his team can run at the front of the field in 2008.
"The ultimate goal is to win my first World of Outlaws feature, and I think we can do that. I want to consistently be in the Top-10 and that is our main goal. As far as points go, if we can finish in the Top-10 each night, then the points will take care of themselves. We're not going to focus on points, but rather on the racing each night and being in the Top-10."