As I sit here on a rainy and cool day – cooler than normal even for this time of the year here in Ohio – it reminds me just how close we are to turning the page toward ending the racing season for the year.
Some race tracks have already shut down for the year, at least East of the Rocky Mountains, and by the time most of you read this, many of the travelling series will have ended their 2021 campaigns as well.
The Flo Racing All Star Circuit of Champions season will be complete and Tyler Courtney and the Clauson/Marshall racing team will have won the ASCoC championship with Tyler also being named Rookie of the Year as well.
What a year they have had too, especially when you consider the entire team was pretty much a traditional (non-winged) sprint car team coming into this year.
As of this writing, they have won eight All Stars A-Mains and, maybe most surprisingly, they also won one of the two $175,000-to-win Kings Royals contested in July (Kyle Larson won the other).
There have been many non-winged drivers who have tried their hand at winged racing and some have been very successful, but there have been a few who just couldn’t adapt to it for various reasons. But Courtney and crew chief Jake Argo not only adapted quickly, they have proven that they could compete and win against the best winged sprint car drivers in the world.
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series will most likely have only a race or two left when the majority of you are reading this and, barring anything catastrophic, Brad Sweet and his Kasey Kahne Racing crew chief Eric Prutzman will have locked up their third straight WoO title.
It’s hard to convey just how hard it is to win ONE WoO title, let alone three straight!
Again, as of this writing, they have won 16 WoO races, compared to second in points driver David Gravel’s 10 wins, which is impressive as well. And, so far, Sweet and the KKR team have finished EVERY lap of every WoO A-Main this year.
That alone is incredible. I was able to complete every lap of the entire 1988 WoO season but still ended up second in points to Steve Kinser, who just happened to have a record setting year in wins, laps led, money earnings, etc. etc.! So, to win a WoO championship, or any top series championship, takes more than just finishing races. It takes consistency on the track and a lot of work and organizing in the shop and sometimes a lot of hustle in the pit area as well. What I mean by that is the driver has to understand the risk vs the reward when contemplating making a pass and not putting himself, or herself, in a situation that might result in a DNF. In the shop the crew has to build and maintain the race car to try to limit mechanical failures and in the pit area, night in and night out, the crew has to be prepared to adapt and make repairs when a crash or mechanical failure happens. Being lucky is always a big help…and consistently being fast doesn’t hurt either!
The KKR team showed their mettle when last year they had three DNF’s in a row, which would’ve been an almost certain end to a championship run for almost any team, but they were fast enough and consistent enough over the long haul to still take home their second WoO champion’s trophy and the big check
that came with it.
The KKR team and Sweet have proven they have figured out the formula to winning championships by getting their third consecutive
You can bet that all the other WoO teams will be working hard over the winter and will be thinking about the KKR team’s success and using that as motivation to try to be the ones to end the streak at three.
It has been proven that generally the longer a team stays together, especially if they are having any success at all, the better they get. Along with getting better and winning more races comes more confidence in every single person on the team and having self confidence, and more importantly confidence in each other, most times just adds to even more success.
With the recent announcement that Spencer Bayston will be moving to the CJB Motorsports team and competing full time with the WoO series next season, it will be interesting to see what changes other drivers and teams around the country make. It’s inevitable, especially when the season is over, that there will be some changes made.
There are way too many sprint car and midget (open wheel) series champions, and track champions, to mention them all, so congratulations to all the 2021 champs and bring on the 2022 season!!