For a rookie sprint car driver competing at the famed Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania can be very intimidating, but for the four drivers currently contending for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award with the World of Outlaws, it’s just another day on the job, as they compete night in and night out with the best sprint car drivers in the World.
These first-year drivers will compete in the biggest event of the season at Williams Grove this weekend, as the World of Outlaws visit the half-mile for the final time in 2007 to contest the National Open, which will again pay $50,000 to win. Adding even more luster to the event, the cameras from SPEED will be taping both nights of racing for broadcast.
Kerry Madsen currently leads the rookie standings over Sam Hafertepe Jr., Chad Hillier and Tony Bruce Jr. Prior to this season, Bruce was the only one of the four drivers that had competed at Williams Grove, as he took part in the National Open last season.
Madsen had plenty of experience on big track entering this season, having earned the Knoxville Raceway track championship in 2005. He has competed in four of the five A-Feature events contested by the World of Outlaws at Williams Grove this season, and has two Top-15 finishes.
“I feel comfortable over there,” said Madsen, driver of the Selma Shell Maxim. “We’ve haven’t been real great there yet, but I am looking forward to going back. Hopefully we can hit the nail on the head and have a good run there.”
Hafertepe like his fellow first-year drivers has competed a number of times at Williams Grove with the World of Outlaws this season. On the first night of the Summer Nationals in July, he turned the fourth fastest lap in time trials with a stout 50-car field in attendance. He earned a spot in the Crane Cams Dash that night where he finished 10th and he backed that up with a very solid 11th-place effort in the A-Feature.
“The first time I went there, it was a little hard to get used to,” said Hafertepe, driver of the G.H. Plumbing J&J. “Now I feel pretty comfortable there and I think we will do really good this time. We got going pretty good the last time we were there and we’re real excited to go back.”
Bruce competed at the half-mile for the first time last season, as he ran a number of World of Outlaws events to get comfortable in a 410-sprint car in preparation for a run at the rookie title this season. He raced his way into the A-Feature in last season’s National Open, with nearly 60 cars on-hand.