For the first time since the World of Outlaws Late Model Series was restarted in 2004, Shane Clanton went winless on the popular dirt racing tour during the 2014 season. Throughout his career, the 39-year-old veteran of the Dirt Late Model ranks was accustomed to winning races and recording strong finishes on the tour. So when the hard work didn’t stop but the strong results did, it became frustrating.
“Any time you go that many races without a win it’s frustrating,” Clanton told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Especially as hard as we worked trying to do the best that we could do.”
After an offseason of refocusing and additional preparation for the 2015 season, Clanton bounced back from his rough season with a bang during the month of February.
First, he ended his 66-race winless drought during the first race weekend of the season at Screven Motor Speedway (GA). Next, with the monkey off of his back, the Zebulon, Georgia driver made his way to the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park full of confidence.
But what happened throughout the course of the week at Volusia even came as a surprise to him. Clanton swept the three World of Outlaws Late Model Series events on his way to recording four wins during the opening month of the season.
“Did I expect to win this much? No. But I did expect to run top five,” Clanton said. “We’re better equipped and better prepared. Last year I had to swap teams a week before going to Florida. We had to swap trucks and everything out. We just weren’t prepared last year like we are this year.
“It was tough. We didn’t have a truck driver and we worked night and day until we had to go. We just weren’t totally prepared like I’d want to be.”
Clanton’s dominance during the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia has his entire team filled with confidence and pumped up for the rest of the 2015 campaign. From this point on, he knows that he’s going to be a threat to win wherever he shows up with his yellow No. 25 machine.
“Any time you can come out of Speedweeks with a win is a real positive for everybody,” Clanton remarked. “But to come out of it like we have has been a great thing. It has everyone’s confidence up knowing we can do what we did. From this day forward we’ll just keep working knowing we can win every race.
“The main thing is we go into every year trying to be competitive. If we can be competitive then the top fives come. And when the top fives come then the wins come. We just did a lot of homework over the winter and everything is working out right now.”
Although he’s off to one of the hottest starts of his impressive career, Clanton knows that now is not the time to take the foot off of the gas pedal. He’s full steam ahead as he looks to ride his momentum to a fourth straight win during the series’ next event, The Illini 100, at Farmer City Raceway (IL) on March 27-28.
“Just go and test more often,” Clanton said on Wednesday when asked what his plans are to keep the streak alive. “We’re going this afternoon actually. We just want to keep the ball rolling and not let it stop.”
With four wins already to his name, Clanton believes the sky is the limit for his team moving forward. In a perfect world, he would like to think his team is capable of eclipsing Darrel Lanigan’s 17-win championship season just one year ago.
“It’s going to be tough, but as good as we were in Florida I don’t know why we can’t.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: DIRTcar Nationals