Australian Kerry Madsen Eyes Eckerd Showdown
Australian Kerry Madsen will be among those chasing a $10,000 first-place prize when the World of Outlaws Sprint Series invades The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway Friday night, May 25, for the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown.
The Coca-Cola 600 Week event will be the first visit to the lightning-fast, four-tenths-mile clay oval for Madsen, a native of St.
Mary's, New South Wales, who now resides in Knoxville, Iowa. "I'm looking forward to it, because Charlotte's the center of the NASCAR world," said the driver of the No. 11h Selma Shell sprint car.
Madsen, 35, started racing on his native soil and first drove sprint cars in the United States in 1997. He relocated to Iowa in 1999 and became a regular at the legendary Knoxville Raceway. He captured the prestigious Knoxville track championship in 2005 and is in his first full season with the nomadic World of Outlaws Sprint Series.
Like many of his sprint car racing peers, Madsen takes advantage of the opposite seasons and returns to his native Australia to race each winter.
"Twenty years ago, Americans could bring any car to Australia and win," Madsen noted. "Now, the racing down there has gotten really tough and there are a lot of really good, really fast racers. It's pretty cool that Australian racing has come this far."
In addition to winning Australia's prestigious Grand Annual Classic at Sungold Stadium, Madsen used his time "down under" this past winter to prepare for his inaugural campaign with the World of Outlaws.
"The car I'm driving this year, I drove a little last year and I actually took some of the stuff we were doing down to Australia and worked on it," he said. "It was like a big testing session for me. I got to work on some issues that we had, sort of got them figured out. It really got me off on the right foot over here. When I got back in February, we won our second race.
"I definitely think racing in Australia helped with the set up and packages we were running. We were able to come out of the gate running pretty well.
"The way it works out, you can pretty much race year round and not miss a weekend," Madsen continued. "Since I went down in November, I've had one weekend off. It's just the more you race, the better you're going to be and it works out really nice because the seasons are exactly opposite. To have it where I can still go home and race every year has really helped me."
After starting his rookie World of Outlaws season on a high note, Madsen hopes to continue winning and is enjoying the opportunity to compete against the best sprint car drivers in the world.
"I'm not really thinking about the rookie deal," Madsen said. "I don't really consider myself a rookie, but I guess I am because I've never really done a full season. If, in the end, I win rookie of the year that would be pretty cool.
"But my main goal is to just go out and win races," he continued.
"I'd like to win races and not have too much stupid stuff happen. We have the equipment to win and I think we can win, but it's a pretty tough, competitive circuit.
"Sometimes circumstances or draws dictate that you're just not going to be in position to win. As long as we can come out each time with solid finishes-top 10s, top fives, that's pretty much the goal each night."
As for Madsen's future, he's happy racing sprint cars with the World of Outlaws and just wants to remain competitive.
"I've always wanted to race sprint cars," he said. "It's pretty cool to be on the World of Outlaws tour and race the good guys every night. When you beat them, it is a good feeling. Honestly, I'm just really happy doing this, and I just want to be successful with sprint cars."
In addition to Madsen, other drivers expected to compete in the May 25 Eckerd Outlaw Showdown include 20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser, defending series titlist Donny Schatz and 2001 champ Danny Lasoski.
Second-generation driver Joey Saldana, piloting the No. 9 sprint car owned by NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne, and veteran Paul McMahan, driving the No. 20 sprint car owned by two-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Tony Stewart, will also be on hand.
The late model stock cars of the Goodyear Fastrak Challenge will join the sprint cars during the action-packed program when racing begins at 7:30 p.m.
Reserved seats for the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown on Friday, May 25, are just $25 for adults and $10 for children ages 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or online.