2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Preview: Randy Hannagan Randy Hannagan bookended his 2007 racing season with wins. He was victorious in Florida in early February and capped off the year with a win in his home state of...
2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Preview: Randy Hannagan
Randy Hannagan bookended his 2007 racing season with wins. He was victorious in Florida in early February and capped off the year with a win in his home state of California in November. He looks to carry that momentum into 2008, as he gets ready to tackle another grueling schedule that will take him from coast-to-coast and compete against the best sprint car drivers in the world night in and night out.
The 2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws season begins for Hannagan with the 37th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida on February 8. While there is nearly nine months of racing that will follow, the veteran driver is quick to point out the importance of running strong in the Sunshine State to open the season.
"A lot of times, Florida sets the tone for the year," said Hannagan. "If you can leave Florida with momentum on your side then you are set up to have a better year than the one you had before."
After one of the most competitive seasons in Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series history in 2007, in which 21 drivers completed the full schedule. Again this year over 20 drivers are committed to running the full season.
Last season, Hannagan who was the 1995 World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year, finished 15th in championship points with the series, earning 11 Top-10 finishes. He led a number of laps at the famed Knoxville Raceway in June, finishing a season-best second in that race. The veteran driver also earned Top-Five finishes at Red River Valley Speedway in North Dakota and at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas. In addition, he set fast time at Skagit Speedway in Washington in August.
"I think the competition does get tougher every year," he noted. "You get all the guys from Pennsylvania and Ohio and the California guys. It never gets easier out here doing this deal, it seems to get tougher every single year."
Heading into the 2008 season, Hannagan and his crew chief Chris Stillwell, who has been with him for a number of years, have been putting in countless hours in the shop to prepare for the rigors of another busy season that will begin in less than three weeks. The team will have a new crew member in 2008, as Steve Moulton who was a part of the crew for a number of years returned home to Canada.
"I'll still have Chris (Stillwell) with me again this year," said the native of San Jose, who now calls Pittsboro, Indiana home. "I don't know at this time who the other crew member will be, but we'll have one in time for Florida. Chris has been working hard with me all winter."
Hannagan will not be alone this year as criss-crosses the country from coast-to-coast as his fiancee Angie and son Mason will travel with him in his motorhome. They are an integral part of the team and help him stay motivated on both the good nights on the track and the not so good nights.
"I think they are ready to hit the road again," he said. "It's always good to have them out there with me. Like I have said before, if they weren't out here with me, I probably wouldn't be doing this."
Hannagan finished the 2007 season by competing in the non-wing sprint car portion of the famed Turkey Night Grand Prix at Irwindale Speedway in California. It was only the second time in his career that he raced on pavement, though something that has intrigued him for a long time.
"It was quite a bit different," he explained of the differences between driving a winged sprint car on dirt versus a non-wing car on asphalt. "It was something that I had always dreamed about doing. It was a good learning experience and I don't if that's a road we may venture on down the line, but I liked it. We don't do it enough to stay sharp and it's hard to just go and do it one time and be good at it. I wish I had a little bit more time doing it."
While there was plenty of work to get done over the winter, Hannagan made sure to make time to visit a number of family members and friends that he rarely gets to see during the racing season. This helps him unwind from the demands that come from competing nearly 90 times a year and the long days and nights on the road that accompany that.
"You do get some time to relax in the off-season," said the veteran driver. "I used to go to Australia every winter, and for the last four or five I have not, and I have been here so that makes it nice. You're not always in the grind of racing and you do get some time off."
Hannagan's first win last season came at East Bay Raceway Park in Florida with a very strong field in attendance, including several World of Outlaws drivers. His win in the Trophy Cup at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California also came with a number of series drivers competing. He looks to carry that momentum into the early season events this year, and has one main goal for the year.
"More wins would make it a good year," he shared. "We had two wins in 2007 and we would like to get double or triple that. That is really what I want to do."
He opened the 2008 season by competing in the 22nd Annual Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma last weekend. It was the second consecutive season he has competed in the race and the third overall time in his career.