CONCORD, N.C. — Scott James’ season is headed in a direction he could only have dreamed when the year began.
The 41-year-old driver from Bright, Ind., has confirmed that he plans to follow the World of Outlaws Late Model Series fulltime for the remainder of the season, topping off a whirlwind month that saw him debut with Sanford Goddard’s Warrior Chassis house car team, enjoy a solid Georgia/Florida Speedweeks and work out the details that will allow him to compete as a regular on the national tour for the first time in his career.
With James sitting seventh in the WoO LMS standings, he is eligible to receive travel benefits as part of the circuit’s Winner’s Circle program. That fact helped push Goddard and James to put their focus on World of Outlaws competition.
“We started considering doing the whole (WoO LMS) deal while we were in Florida,” said James, who will earn appearance money and other perks from the WoO LMS as long as he maintains perfect attendance and holds a top-12 spot in the standings. “When we got home I talked with Sanford and my wife (Megan). We pretty much figured out that, even though we have a one-year-old (daughter) at home, it just made a lot of sense financially to give running the series a shot.
“After the way the car worked in Georgia and Florida and with us being in the top 12 (in points) so far, which assures us of that show-up money to take care of some expenses, I feel like it’s a great situation for me, my family, Warrior, Sanford, Custom (Race Engines) and our sponsors to give it a go.”
James hasn’t run a national touring schedule since dropping off the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series midway through the 2009 season. He competed on that series fulltime for four seasons — winning six times and finishing as high as second (2007) and no worse than sixth (’08) in the points standings — so he’s familiar with extensive travel and points racing.
“I think the experience I had running five years on the road with the Lucas Series helped me know and determine that, ‘Hey, this is a pretty good deal and it has a lot of potential,’” James said of Goddard’s Warrior No. 1G operation. “The World of Outlaws is obviously the highest of high levels in dirt Late Model racing and you have to be prepared for it. When we started the season running good, I definitely felt like the team was capable of competing at that level.”
James’s path to the seat in the Warrior house car began shortly before Christmas when he called Goddard to inquire about the chassis builder’ss plans for 2013. After spending the previous two seasons running mostly regionally for Riggs Motorsports — a stint highlighted by his second-place finish in the 2011 DIRTcar UMP Summer Nationals points standings — he was in the market for a new ride.
“I told him, ‘It doesn’t look like I have a lot of things happening up here and I may be able to bring some things to the table if we do something together,’” James recalled. “I said to him, ‘If you want to sit around and mull it over for awhile, I definitely would love to talk to you again about what we could do.’
“There wasn’t much conversation after that until about the middle of January. We started talking more and more and things were clicking and happening, but we kind of kept it hush-hush. A week-and-a-half before the Screven races (to open the WoO LMS season on Feb. 8-9) we got everything done to race together. Finally, two days before we left for Screven, it came out in a press release that we were teaming up.”
James burst out of the box with Goddard in sparkling fashion, finishing third in the 40-lap WoO LMS lidlifter on Feb. 8 at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga. He had several other impressive outings during the season-opening eight-race WoO LMS swing through the Southeast, including two top fives at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla.