2008 World of Outlaws Season Review: Kerry Madsen Concord, NC-- December 5, 2008--Kerry Madsen had a homecoming of sorts this season, returning to the VerMeer Motorsports team based in Pella, Iowa, for whom he drove in weekly competition at...
2008 World of Outlaws Season Review: Kerry Madsen
Concord, NC-- December 5, 2008--Kerry Madsen had a homecoming of sorts this season, returning to the VerMeer Motorsports team based in Pella, Iowa, for whom he drove in weekly competition at the famed Knoxville Raceway before taking to the road full-time with the World of Outlaws in 2007. He won the 2005 Knoxville track championship with the team, and had nine career victories in the No. 55 heading into the 2008 season.
In the team's first full year on the road, Madsen picked up 37 Top-10 finishes, with eight of those being Top-Five performance, en route to a very strong sixth-place finish in the World of Outlaws championship standings, his first Top-10 finish in the series points.
"Overall it was a pretty good year," Madsen said. "We would have liked to have won, but we had our opportunities. Overall, we were pretty consistent and I am very happy with that. We had a strong year and hopefully we can keep things rolling for next year."
Madsen was again teamed with veteran crew chief Sonny Kratzer, who guided him to two wins during his rookie season with the World of Outlaws in 2007. For his efforts this season, Kratzer was awarded the 2008 World of Outlaws Crew Chief of the Year Award at the annual Night of Champions back in November.
"I think for the team itself that was paramount," noted the native of St. Mary's, NSW, Australia of having Kratzer on board with the team. "Sonny brought his engine program and Goodyear tires over here. What Sonny brought helped in the transition from the team being a local Knoxville team to going on the road. The key for the team was to make it through the year without trouble and a big key to that was having Sonny here."
Madsen got up to speed quickly in 2008, as he picked up his first Top-10 finish of the season in the finale of the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida, and that began a streak of 12 Top-10 finishes in a 14-race period. This solidly put him in the Top-10 in the standings aboard the TK Concrete Maxim, where he would remain the rest of the season.
The 2007 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award winner picked up two runner-up finishes over the course of the season, with the first of those coming on the opening night at Skagit Speedway in Washington in late August, and then at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas, where he led a number of laps, before three-time and defending series champion Donny Schatz got around him in heavy lapped traffic.
"I wish we would have had a few more, but we had our chances," stated the Australian native, who now calls the Knoxville area home, of his Top-Five runs. "We had some bad luck with things happen when we were running in the Top-Five. The car was good all year and the motors ran good."
After visiting a number of tracks for the first time as a rookie in 2007, Madsen returned to these facilities for the second and third times this past season and continued to become more acclimated with some of the most challenging circuits in sprint car racing, as well as life on the road. He finished fourth at Eldora Speedway early in the season and followed that up with another Top-10 run at the half-mile in May. He picked up a Top-10 in the finale of the Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway, against a very stout field and was fifth in the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway prior to that.
"There are a couple of tracks that it seems like every time we go back, I am getting better at them," he shared. "One of those is the Grove. You just need to have a lot of laps there and there are a lot of little things there that are different than anywhere else. Every time you get laps at every track, it is absolutely beneficial."
Madsen was one of 17 full-time drivers that finished the 2008 season with the World of Outlaws, making it one of the strongest fields in series history. He won the Crane Cams Dash twice to earn pole positions in A-Feature events and was also quickest in time trials once. In addition to this, he led 34 laps of A-Feature competition this season as he looked to add to his two career wins with the series.
"I think it was just as tough as last year, without a doubt," he said. "It's always going to be tough out here."
Madsen has returned to his native land of Australia to compete in a number of events with the World Series Sprintcars. His first race will be this Saturday night at Hobart Speedway. He will also have the opportunity during the off-season to again compete against his brother Ian, who was a member of his crew for a large portion of the season, later in the off-season, as well as a number of fellow World of Outlaws competitors who will head Down Under after the Holiday's for a number of events at Parramatta City Raceway.
Madsen won his third consecutive Grand Annual Classic at Premier Speedway in Warrnambool last season and looks to continue to add to his victory total in his home land. He has won at least one race back in Australia in each of the last seven off-seasons.
"We'll do some racing down there from before Christmas until sometime in January," said Madsen. "It's enjoyable going back home and racing down there. It helps keep you sharp as well. I am really looking forward to it."
The 2009 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series seasons kicks off February 6-8 at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida with the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH.