2006 World of Outlaws Season Review: Terry McCarl Concord, NC--Nov. 20, 2006 -- Terry McCarl had one goal before the season and that was to win the World of Outlaws title. He used a strong start to the season to propel himself into the Top-Five...
2006 World of Outlaws Season Review: Terry McCarl
Concord, NC--Nov. 20, 2006 -- Terry McCarl had one goal before the season and that was to win the World of Outlaws title. He used a strong start to the season to propel himself into the Top-Five in the championship standings, heading into one of the busiest stretches of the season.
That lifelong dream unfortunately would quickly take a backseat.
After racking up eight Top-five finishes, he suffered a severely broken left leg after the U-Joint in his car exploded seconds after taking the checkered flag in the seventh spot in the $50,000 Challenge at Sharon (Ohio) Speedway on May 20. He was third in the championship standings only 55 points behind leader Donny Schatz at that moment. The always optimistic driver would battle back from his injury to wind up ninth in the final championship point standings, after racking up 33 Top-10 finishes.
The fan favorite would miss 13 events, using a trio of veteran drivers to fill-in, including three-time series champion Sammy Swindell, helping to secure a sixth-place finish for the team in owner points.
During McCarl's absence, his team scored a very emotional victory at Lernerville Speedway with Dean Jacobs in the car. For the veteran driver from Pennsylvania, it was his first World of Outlaws A-Feature win. Also, fellow Keystone State driver Tim Shaffer filled-in for the team picking up Top-10 finishes in all three of the races he competed in.
Just three weeks after having surgery to insert 12 screws and a plate into his left leg, McCarl was back in the seat. He earned a very emotional triumph in a weekly race at Huset's (S.D.) Speedway, where he is a six-time track champion and holds the mark for most career wins.
In his fourth race back, McCarl picked up his first World of Outlaws A-Feature win at Huset's. This came after a third-place run at 81 Speedway in Kansas, followed by a sixth place showing at Dodge City Raceway Park.
Later in the season, he won a preliminary feature at the famed Williams Grove Speedway, a track he has marveled at and yearned to win at for as long as he can remember. The native of Altoona, Iowa scored his second A-Feature win of the season in the series inaugural visit to Nodak (N.D.) Speedway before a standing room only crowd, the largest in the 51 year history of the track.
"We won the preliminary feature at Williams Grove and that was pretty special for us," said McCarl, driver of the Big Game Treestands Eagle. "We also won two point races. Those were definitely the highlights. Winning at Williams Grove was great, as was winning at Huset's. I have won a lot of races at Huset's, but never a World of Outlaws show. That was pretty big for us."
While the wins and 19 Top-Five finishes made it a very successful season, he could not forget about the injury that hampered his chase for the title.
"The low side was that we thought we had a good shot at winning the championship and I missed 13 races with my broken leg," recalled McCarl. "Obviously that was the downside, but that is part this business."
McCarl praised his team all season long, led by crew chief Steve Fitzpatrick, along with Russ Hall and Adam Stull, as well as Greg McCormack, who joined the team down the stretch run. No matter who was in the cockpit of the car, it was always near the front of the field and at the top of the speed charts.
"My team did a great job while I was hurt and we bounced back pretty strong from it," he stated. "To finish sixth in owner points is pretty good for missing 13 shows."
While he was on the mend, McCarl was able to not only keep up with his team via the cell phone, but also by listening to the Dirt Radio Network and by tuning in to the DirtVision Cybercasts. With the award winning play-by-play of John Gibson, the longtime World of Outlaws Announcer, McCarl felt like he was right at the track, even when he was thousands of miles away.
"It was real tough laying at home in bed and listening on the internet," explained McCarl. "I became a typical car owner at that point, yelling at my driver and crew over the internet. The positive side of that was Dean Jacobs picking up his first Outlaws win. He is a good friend of our's, and that meant a lot to us. It showed how strong my team is, with how well they did without me in there. We were able to bounce back and come back up through the point standings, and that shows that we can compete for this deal."
While it may have taken most people a lot longer to heal after having the severe injury that McCarl had, from the moment he went under the knife, all he could think about was strapping into his race car again.
"It was just three weeks and two days after my surgery that we ran the local show at Huset's and won," a proud McCarl said. "Then a week or so later we ended up winning the Outlaws show there. Yeah, it was big. The bulk of my sponsorship with Big Game Treestands and Bosma Poultry comes from that area up there. They were all there with their families. It is always special to win an Outlaws show anywhere, but especially in front of your hometown people and sponsors, it means that much more to you. You have to win to keep these guys fired up about what you do."
Being a promoter himself, McCarl was very pleased with the hard work of World of Outlaws and DIRT MotorSports officials in 2006, and the new avenues they have brought to the table for the 2007 season, including a television package with ESPN2 as well as SPEED.
"I am really excited for 2007 with what the World of Outlaws have done, especially with the television package," he said. "We'll have a great opportunity to play in front a lot more people and a whole new audience. I think once the fans see us and come out in person, they will really get hooked on sprint car racing. I don't think there is anything more exciting than sprint cars on dirt."
McCarl showed why he is one of the toughest and most respected drivers in the world this season, and he looks to build on the momentum the team carried throughout the season into next year. After the checkered flag flew in Las Vegas at the end of October, he immediately implemented a rigorous exercise and fitness program to ensure that he is in physically and mentally prepared to take a run at the 2007 title.
"I am looking forward to getting in shape for next year, and letting this leg heal up properly," the always well-spoken driver said. "I'm ready to get everything prepped and ready for next year, and hopefully we can make a run at the championship. I've turned down a lot of rides (to race in Australia over the winter) to go and do some other things. We're going to try to take it easy and get in shape for next year and get the team ready for next season."
Next Up: The series of season reviews for the Top-15 in the World of Outlaws Sprint Series continues with Justin Henderson.