Prior to Wednesday night, Landon Crawley had never started a World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series feature. Not only that, but the count of World of Outlaw races he’s attended as a fan merely amounted to about five or six events.
“I’ve never hardly even been in the pits at one,” Crawley noted during media day at Charlotte Motor Speedway last Friday.
Well, all of that changed on Feb. 7 at Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park. On top of making his first career A main appearance, the rookie driver also set quick time in the 45-car field early on in the night.
Crawley started fifth and finished 20th in the 25-lap main event after experiencing fueling issues, but for a 16-year-old who hasn’t been racing a 410 sprint car very long, the result was commendable.
“I’m kind of just taking it one week at a time,” Crawley said as he looked ahead at the 85-race season. “Pretty much 90 percent of the schedule I’ve never been to, so new tracks and just trying to get laps in the 410 are probably gonna be my biggest things this year.”
Driving Jason Sides’ No. 7s sprint car, Crawley appeared to have the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” figured out when he finished second to Gio Scelzi in the opening heat race.
When looking at the big picture, the jump up to the World of Outlaws was a major leap for Crawley, who first stepped into a 410 sprint car last November with the POWRi 410 Wing Outlaw Sprint League.
So far, a few of the biggest wins in his career include a local West Memphis, Ark., tribute race — the Greg Hodnett Memorial — and a USCS victory at Mississippi’s Magnolia Motor Speedway. Both triumphs occurred last year.
To move from that level, up to one of the leading nationals sprint car tours in the country may seem a little rushed, but Crawley simply couldn’t say no.
“Everything just kind of fell into place with Robbie (Price) getting out of the car and then Jason (Sides) having the opening,” Crawley said. “We had some sponsors step in line, so everything just kind of fell into my lap. It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I didn’t want to let it go.”
When he was “a kid,” the Arkansas native had no intention of racing.
He’d been around sprint car racing his whole life with his dad, three-time ASCS national champion Tim Crawley, but the younger Crawley wanted nothing to do with it for the most part.
“One day, out of the blue, we had a go-kart hanging on the wall and I guess I just kind of fell in love with it a little bit,” Crawley described with a shrug.
Once he got his feet wet as a driver, he was hooked.
“When I got into full-sized sprint cars, kind of from that point on, that’s all I really wanted to do,” Crawley explained. As for World of Outlaws racing, he added. “It’s cool to get to do something different and something a bit more professional.”
Though his Wednesday night debut had its ebbs and flows, Crawley seems to be off to a good start to his World of Outlaws career. He plans to carry some of dad’s advice through the rest of his rookie campaign.
“Stay outta my own head,” Crawley said. “I mean, it’s gonna be tough. I’m racing with the best in the country, so as long as I stay positive with everything and keep my head up, it should be alright.”