A week ago, Sprint Car fans across the nation were left stunned.

The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars unleashed its first Sea Foam Qualifying session of the 2024 season at Volusia Speedway Park and when the final car took the checkered flag, it wasn’t one of the usual suspects laying down the fastest lap. Neither qualifying master David Gravel nor Carson Macedo stood atop the speed chart. That spot belonged to 16-year-old Landon Crawley.

The Benton, AR native came out with a bang in his first laps with The Greatest Show on Dirt. And he wasn’t done yet. Crawley finished second in his Heat race to qualify for the Dash in his first appearance. Two nights later he qualified fourth fastest in his Flight and again made the Dash. This time he topped the Dash to sit on the pole of only his third World of Outlaws Feature. Heads were turned and doubters silenced.

“Blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while. I just happened to find two this week,” Crawley joked. “I don’t know how long I can keep it up, but I’m going to do my best and just take it one night at a time.”

The teenager is wise beyond his years and taking a healthy approach to his rookie World of Outlaws campaign. A one-night-at-a-time outlook is exactly what’s required to tackle the demanding 80-plus race calendar. Crawley displays a maturity that didn’t go unnoticed by Jason Sides as the longtime driver for his own team put him in the seat of the #7S for 2024.

“It definitely helps,” Crawley said of working with Sides. “As far as driving, he kind of just lets me do my thing and learn as I go. As far as setup and car, I feel like I’ve had probably one of the best race cars right now. This thing practically drives itself. I had probably one of the best cars I’ve ever had in my life last weekend. Everything has gone over so well.”

Crawley entered this year with only one night’s worth of 410 Sprint Car experience. Prior to making the leap to full-time 410 racing, Crawley followed in his father’s footsteps with success in the 360 ranks. His dad – Tim Crawley – is a three-time American Sprint Car Series (ASCS) champion.

The blooming racer’s mature mindset wasn’t only apparent on the track at Volusia. He came across well-spoken and articulate in interviews. He also made it clear he still has plenty of improving to do and a long road ahead. He doesn’t merely want to start first in World of Outlaws Features. He wants to finish up front, too.

Landon Crawley in the Volusia Speedway Park pit area
Landon Crawley made it clear he’s one of Sprint Car Racing’s rising stars at Volusia Speedway Park (Trent Gower Photo)

“The biggest thing right now is I run up front, but I’m struggling with restarts and struggling with dirty air,” Crawley admitted. “The first night dirty air was my biggest problem on top of some motor problems, but I also had to fight some issues driving. I’m kind of just learning as I go.

“I’ve got to stay out of my own head. I beat myself down and get in my head then I lose 20 spots in a Feature. But at the same time, I’ve hardly ever done this before. I’ve only ran five 410 races in my life. It’s all just a learning process, and it’s going to take time.”

Track time is something Crawley will have plenty of as the season continues. The nine-month campaign takes the tour to 41 ovals of various shapes and sizes in 19 different states. Many new tracks await Crawley during his debut year with the World of Outlaws. But fortunately for him, the schedule also takes him to familiar territory soon. March and April boast a dozen races combined in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri – all not far from home for the Arkansas driver.

“I think I should be alright at some of those places,” Crawley said. “It’s more similar to what I’m used to. The biggest thing is just going to be the power difference for me. It may take three or four nights to get comfortable again, but I think all of that will go over decent. There’s definitely some Oklahoma tracks that I’ve already been to that I’m really looking forward to, Muskogee (Thunderbird Speedway) and 81 (Speedway) in Kansas, some of those places. They’re bigger tracks, but I feel like I’m a little bit better on the bigger tracks here recently.”

The 2024 season currently sits in a small break as teams regroup from four straight nights of racing during DIRTcar Nationals. The grind resumes in two weeks with another trip to Volusia, and Crawley isn’t thinking about replicating his Qualifying speed. He’s ready to put a full night together. He’s ready to learn what it takes to run up front with The Greatest Show on Dirt on a nightly basis.

“I’m just trying to get a little bit more consistent, put together some good laps, and get some better results.”

Crawley’s rookie World of Outlaws campaign continues in two weeks at Volusia Speedway Park’s Bike Week Jamboree (March 3-4) in Barberville, FL. For tickets, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, catch all of the action live on DIRTVision.