CONCORD, NC – Feb. 4, 2012 – A record number of drivers have been approved as contenders for the 2012 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Rookie of the Year award.
Eight competitors will carry rookie status when the national tour kicks off its 2012 schedule on Feb. 10-11 with the $20,000-to-win ‘Winter Freeze’ at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga., setting up an unprecedented battle for the prestigious first-year traveler honor.
“We’re really looking forward to this year’s World of Outlaws Late Model Series Rookie of the Year race,” said series director Tim Christman. “With a mix of rising young stars and veteran regional racers who are all looking to tackle a full national touring series schedule for the first time, this group of rookies isn’t only the biggest we’ve ever had but also the most interesting. They should really add another element of excitement to the 2012 World of Outlaws Late Model Series.”
A select panel comprised of veteran WoO LMS drivers and dirt Late Model media members was tasked with determining each applicant’s eligibility for the Rookie of the Year program. The panelists reviewed the drivers’ career dirt Late Model resumes and provided ‘yes’ or ‘no’ votes for each.
A simple majority of ‘yes’ votes were needed to confirm each driver’s rookie status. Two applicants failed to receive sufficient votes to participate in the Rookie of the Year program.
The drivers approved to contend for the 2012 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year crown include:
* Jared Hawkins, 25, of Fairmont, W.Va. While already a WoO LMS winner after pocketing $20,000 for capturing the 45-lap ‘Sweet Sixteen finale’ of the 2011 ‘Black Diamond 125’ at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va., the up-and-comer has qualified for only six tour A-Mains in 18 attempts during his seven-year dirt Late Model career. He is considering a 2012 attack on the WoO LMS with car owner Bobby Lake.
* Greg Johnson, 44, of Bedford, Ind. The 16-year dirt Late Model veteran has over 150 career feature wins, but most have come in local and smaller regional events and he has never earned a race paycheck worth over $7,500. He is hoping to run a national schedule for the first time behind the wheel of the Rainey Motorsports No. 49.
* Bub McCool, 34, of Vicksburg, Miss. Though he began driving a dirt Late Model at the age of 14, he did not race for nearly a decade after suffering injuries in a serious car accident in January 1997. He returned as a division regular in 2006 and over the past five years has won 22 features in local and regional action while also increasing his participation in national-level events with his family-owned team.
* Billy Moyer Jr., 24, of Batesville, Ark. The son of dirt Late Model legend and three-time WoO LMS champ Billy Moyer, the touted full-fender prospect has steadily increased his schedule’s degree of difficulty since debuting behind the wheel in 2006. He flashed his potential last year with a fourth-place finish – right behind his dad – in the WoO LMS ‘Cash Cow 100’ at Columbus (Miss.) Speedway.
* Kent Robinson, 24, of Bloomington, Ind. The least experienced dirt Late Model driver among the rookie crop, Robinson is a former DIRTcar UMP Modified standout who made his full-fender debut in 2010 and ran his first full season in the division last year. He turned heads in ’11 while making more than 60 starts with his family-owned team, winning once, qualifying for both the Dream and the World 100 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, and scoring a sixth-place at Bluegrass Speedway in Bardstown, Ky., in his second career WoO LMS A-Main appearance.
* Brandon Sheppard, 19, of New Berlin, Ill. The son of DIRTcar UMP Late Model hard-charger Steve Sheppard Jr., the teenager began running a dirt Late Model at the age of 14 and has been on a steady upward arc since then. He broke out in 2011, putting up a double-figure win total (including a pair of DIRTcar Summer Nationals victories) and winning the Northern All-Stars Late Model Series title. Sheppard and his family-owned team plan to follow the WoO LMS through the event on April 28 at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway and then decide on the remainder of their 2012 schedule.
* Dan Stone, 34, of Thompson, Pa. A regular entrant since 2005 in WoO LMS events held in the Northeast, the good-natured driver known as ‘Big Brother’ pulled off one of the biggest upsets in WoO LMS history when he beat the tour’s stars to win a 50-lap A-Main on Sept. 2, 2007, at Tri-City Speedway in Franklin, Pa. After excelling in local and regional action for 17 years, he hopes to follow the WoO LMS for the first time with a combination of family-owned equipment and cars fielded by Leo Milus’s Super Deuce Racing.
* Jack Sullivan, 36, of Greenbrier, Ark. A former open-wheel Modified standout, he has enjoyed success on regional circuits since entering the dirt Late Model class in 2003. He owns a top WoO LMS finish of ninth in 12 career A-Main starts, and over the past two years he’s been a stalwart on the DIRTcar Summer Nationals ‘Hell Tour,’ winning twice and placing a personal-best fifth in the 2011 points standings.
A guaranteed $10,000 top prize awaits the winner of the 2012 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year award, which will be determined using drivers’ best 25 finishes in World of Outlaws events.
The rookies will dive into their 2012 WoO LMS assaults with a busy month of February, staying on the road for two consecutive weeks of action. The season opener at Screven will be followed by the inaugural Bubba Army Late Model Winter Nationals on Feb. 16-18 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., and two dates (Feb. 23 and 25) during the 41st UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.
Previous WoO LMS Rookie of the Year award winners were Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis. (2011), Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del. (2010), Russell King of Bristolville, Ohio (2009), Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y. (2008), Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y. (2007), Eddie Carrier Jr. of Salt Rock, W.Va. (2006), Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va. (2005) and Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y. (2004).
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Vicci (Official Uniform), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award), McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award), Chizmark Larson Insurance, Factory Value Parts and RacingJunk.com; in addition to contingency sponsors Comp Cams, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, Pro Power Engines, Quartermaster, Rocket Chassis, R2C Performance, Superflow Dynos, Wix Filters and Wrisco Aluminum.