Take Two: Cody Darrah Set to Storm World of Outlaws Circuit
Kasey Kahne Racing driver back from year-long recovery after injury on way to 2010 opener
BARBERVILLE, FL. - Feb. 7, 2011 - Imagine being Sprint Car driver Cody Darrah a year ago preparing for the DIRTcar Nationals by University of Northwestern Ohio:
No driver is rising faster in motorsports. In the fall you defeated the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series at your home track, the intimidating Williams Grove Speedway. Kasey Kahne is impressed enough to hire you at only 20 years old for one of his high-profile Sprint Car rides. You are ready to break onto the national stage. Then, just a couple of hours before your debut in the World of Outlaws season opener at Volusia Speedway Park, you're driving to the track with your father, Joe. Another car turns directly in front of you at an intersection. It plows into your car. The devastation leaves your father beat and bruised. It leaves you with a broken leg. Before it begins, your season is over.
It would have been easy for Darrah to get down. It would have been easy to hide, to throw in the towel. Not Darrah. With assurance from Kahne his car would be waiting for him when he was ready, Darrah attacked his rehabilitation with the same competitiveness he attacked the Outlaws whenever he raced against them.
Now, a year later and back in Florida, Darrah, 21, is ready for his big entrance with Kasey Kahne Racing.
"It's kind of like dйjа vu," said Darrah, of Red Lion, Pa., and the nephew of World of Outlaws Late Model Series star Rick Eckert. "It's been a full year of just non-stop anticipation."
Kahne brought Paul McMahan on board to wheel the #91 car after Darrah was injured. McMahan had one of the best years of his career, earning a Top 10 finish in the championship standings. As McMahan barnstormed the country, Darrah quietly watched and learned. He hobbled throughout the pit area, pitching in where he could, but certainly observing the team and the tracks, taking it all in for when he would get his shot.
"That was probably the best thing I took from being injured," Darrah said. "I was able to go to these tracks I've never been to and watch and learn how to run them."
A remarkable recovery allowed Darrah to compete in Australia during the winter to help sharpen his skills. The young driver came back with more than just laps under his belt.
"I think overall going to race in Australia during the winter prepares you better for the season," Darrah said.
Brimming with confidence, Darrah will tackle the new season with a new crew chief as Kahne expanded his racing operation through a partnership with Dennis Roth. McMahan and crew chief Justin Adams move to the storied #83 Roth Motorsports car that will be run out of the Kasey Kahne Racing shop in Mooresville, N.C., meaning Andy Potter will turn the wrenches on Darrah's #91 Great Clips sponsored car.
As the preseason pick to win the 2011 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award, Darrah knows it won't be easy to race against the Outlaws after sitting idle for much of last year. He and his team have set manageable goals heading into the DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH.
"We just really want to build some consistency," Darrah said. "We feel like if we can do that, the wins and good finishes will come."
Tickets to see Darrah and the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series compete in the 40th DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH at Volusia Speedway Park can be purchased online at www.WorldofOutlaws.com/tickets or by calling 386-985-4402. The racing action at Volusia kicks off on Tuesday (Feb. 8) with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars waving the green flag on the season Friday (Feb. 11), Saturday (Feb. 12) and Sunday (Feb. 13).