Keeping Pace

Cody Darrah Begins Rookie Season with DIRTcar Nationals

Cody Darrah running a World of Outlaws Sprint Car at The Dirt Track at Lowes Motor Speedway. (Photo courtesy of Kasey Kahne Racing)
Cody Darrah running a World of Outlaws Sprint Car at The Dirt Track at Lowes Motor Speedway. (Photo courtesy of Kasey Kahne Racing)

Cody Darrah will pilot the No. 91 Great Clips Maxim for Washington state native, Kasey Kahne, who has several race teams racing in USAC and the World of Outlaws.

Courtesy: WoO Sprint Car Media Relations

Concord, NC—Racing against tough competition night in and night out will be nothing new for Cody Darrah this coming season as he contends for the World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award, beginning at the 39th Annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH at Volusia Speedway Park, February 5-7. For each of the last four seasons he has raced in Central Pennsylvania against stout competition wherever he went and won his fair share of races, while continuing to hone his skills behind the wheel.

Darrah, who will pilot the No. 91 Great Clips Maxim for Kasey Kahne Racing this coming season, scored his first career World of Outlaws A-Feature win last year in the finale of the Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway, earning $20,000 for that triumph.

“I’m very excited for the season,” said Darrah. “It’s going to be a very big year for me as a driver and a very big year for our team Kasey Kahne Racing. “

Darrah has always been fast at Volusia Speedway Park and looks to use his experience at the half-mile to open the 2010 campaign on a strong note. The native of Red Lion, Pennsylvania finished seventh in the opener of the three-day event last season and has taken part in the DIRTcar Nationals in each of the last three years, setting fast time in his debut at the track in 2007 as well as again in 2008. He has qualified fourth or better in six of his nine career starts at Volusia.

“It’s a big race track and a place I really like to race at,” noted the 20-year old. “I’m really excited to start the year off at Volusia. For one, it’s a track that I am familiar with. It is super fast and a place where you have to keep your arms straight and make a good lap. Volusia is a track that I am very excited for, because that will set the tone for the whole year.”

With one of the strongest fields in the 30-plus year history of the World of Outlaws currently being assembled, along with the drivers from the All Star Circuit of Champions, as well as Pennsylvania, Ohio and across the country, the DIRTcar Nationals are shaping up to feature some of the most fierce competition of the season. Darrah is looking forward to this challenge as he begins his first full season on the road with the World of Outlaws.

“You’re going against the best of the best there,” shared Darrah when asked about Volusia. “You don’t race in an event like that again until probably August. It is super competitive with all of those good guys there all at once. There are a lot of cars there and it only takes a little mistake to miss the show. It’s tough to make all the races there, but that’s our goal going in this year.”

While he will be taking on the best winged sprint car drivers in the world, Darrah will also have to contend with the blazing fast half-mile at Volusia Speedway Park, which received some new clay in the off-season. Having cut his teeth on the bigger tracks in his home state of Pennsylvania, Darrah always looks forward to the season opening trip to the Sunshine State.

“It’s a fast race track as well and when you have been off and not racing for the last two months and take your first lap there, it puts you back in the seat,” he explained. “It’s good though, because it gets your speed set for the year and gets you back in the car and you get that feel.”

Darrah competed with the World of Outlaws at eight different tracks last season of which seven will be among the facilities he visits again in 2010. Among those tracks he raced at in 2009, was his first trek to the famed Eldora Speedway where he finished seventh in the his debut at the half-mile in the spring and he followed that up by setting fast time at the Kings Royal in July, with 47 cars in attendance. He picked up seven Top-10 finishes in World of Outlaws competition in 2009, with three of those being Top-Fives in a limited number of starts mainly in the East Coast events.

“There is a lot of pressure,” deadpanned Darrah when asked about driving for a NASCAR star. “When you drive for Kasey Kahne, the expectations are to do nothing but win. It’s a wonderful deal for a driver here at Kasey Kahne Racing and you couldn’t ask for anything better. The guys at the shop have been working very hard. He (Kasey) is as excited as I am for this year. We have a great group of guys working on this thing and everyone is working together to use their resources as best as they can.”

Darrah will be teamed with Joey Saldana, who led the World of Outlaws with 20 A-Feature wins and 21 overall victories last year. He’ll also have veteran crew chief Bonzai Bruns turning the wrenches for him. Darrah made a couple of starts at the end of 2009 for the team scoring a sixth-place finish in his debut with the squad at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in New York during Super DIRT Week.

“Looking at everything and where I am at, I could not have been able to have picked a better team than what I am a part of,” he shared. “Having Joey (Saldana) as a teammate will be a great resource. We’ll going to a lot of tracks that I have never seen and I’ll be able to able to talk to him and get information. He’s a great coach and so many of the tracks that I have never seen, he has won it. We have so many great resources within out team do nothing but good.”

Darrah, who turned 20 in August of last year, will be the youngest driver competing full-time with the World of Outlaws in 2010, and will be racing against many drivers that have been racing and winning, longer than he has been alive, though he does not look at that as intimidating, but rather as a variable that will help ease his learning curve on the road.

“I look up to every one of the guys on the Outlaws circuit,” said the rookie. “I expect a lot from myself and it will be tough racing against these guys and I’ll have to tell myself every once in a while that these guys have been doing it for a long time. I’m ready for it though and excited for the challenge.”

The rookie contender will have three separate chances to race at his home track of Williams Grove Speedway in 2010 with the World of Outlaws, as the series first heads to the legendary half-mile on May 13-14, followed by the Summer Nationals on July 23-24 and the National Open on October 1-2.

“I’m really looking forward to going back to Williams Grove,” Darrah said. “That’s a track that I have a lot of laps at and have had a lot of success there. Going back home and having that atmosphere will be huge for me. It’s going to be a comfort zone for me and I’m excited to get to race there with the Outlaws.”

Darrah, who has done a good amount of testing during the off-season with the Kasey Kahne Racing team, begins his 2010 season at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals this week, making one final start for his father Joe’s team. Following that event, the focus will shift back to the DIRTcar Nationals which are just three weeks away.

“It keeps you competitive and keeps you racing,” he noted, when asked about racing in the winter. “It’s a little bit different being in a non-wing car and a midget at that, but it keeps your sharp. It’s exciting to go there. I am really itching to race and glad to be able to do it.”

Darrah will race nearly 80 times in 2010 at over 40 tracks from coast-to-coast and in Canada with the World of Outlaws. The majority of those tracks will be ones that he is seeing for the first time. Having added his name to the record books last season by earning his first World of Outlaws win, he looks to continue to add to that success in 2010 as he contends for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award, which has been claimed in each of the last two seasons by drivers from his home state of Pennsylvania.

“Making a full season and finishing races is very important,” he said, when asked his goals for the new season. “It’s going to be a big year racing race tracks, let alone the World of Outlaws drivers. I want to gain consistency that is what we are looking for and just learning. As long as we are learning, it’s going to be a good year.”

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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.





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