LITTLE VALLEY, N.Y. – Tim Fuller will have the distinctive look of a reenergized race car driver on Thursday night (Aug. 22) when he competes in the second annual World of Outlaws Late Model Series event at Little Valley Speedway.
Hot off his first victory on the national tour in over three years, Fuller heads into the mid-week 50-lap, $10,000-to-win A-Main at the half-mile fairgrounds oval in his home state with the morale-sapping weight of a long slump finally removed from his shoulders.
Fuller, 45, of Watertown, N.Y., was triumphant in last Saturday night’s WoO LMS feature at Merritt Speedway in Lake City, Mich., snapping a 133-race winless streak dating back to his last checkered flag on June 17, 2010, at Merrittville Speedway in Thorold, Ont. It was also his first World of Outlaws win since joining the high-profile Kennedy Motorsports operation just over one year ago as a teammate to Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga.
“That win was needed so bad,” said Fuller, a former DIRTcar Northeast big-block Modified regular who has followed the WoO LMS religiously since earning Rookie of the Year honors in 2007. “Look, wins are good for everybody. It reassures a lot of confidence in (team owner) John Kennedy, (Capital Race Cars builder) Marshall Green, myself and the crew and makes everybody’s mood better.
“Do I see us doing it again?” he continued, asking a question he fully intended to answer himself. “Yeah, I see us doing it again – hopefully within a few days.”
History would seem to paint Fuller as a likely candidate to make a quick return to Victory Lane. He tends to win WoO races in bunches, after all. In amassing 12 career triumphs from 2007-2010, he scored back-to-back wins in both ’08 and ’10 and in ’09 put together a sizzling stretch of seven wins in 11 races, including a then record-tying streak of four consecutive victories.
“I’d love to see that pattern continue,” smiled Fuller, who sits sixth in the WoO LMS points standings with 12 events remaining on the 2013 schedule.
It’s been an often tortuous road back to the World of Outlaws spotlight for Fuller, who split with Gypsum Racing team owner John Wight early in 2011 and fielded his own underfunded dirt Late Model effort until hooking up with Kennedy Motorsports during the summer of ’12. Even after his career-saving hiring by Kennedy – he had blown up the last engine in his stable just before the Phoenix-based businessman offered him a ride – he struggled to break through on the WoO LMS.
Entering last Saturday night’s event at Merritt, Fuller had made 48 WoO LMS starts in Kennedy Motorsports equipment and finished among the top five just five times (four this year) and top 10 on 22 occasions (18 this season). He finished as high as second twice – both this year, on May 25 at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va. (a last-lap loss to Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va.) and June 25 at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park – but admitted that it was difficult for him to simply count those near-misses as stepping stones to the winner’s circle.
“You take that deal at Tyler County – to have that happen was tough, about as bad as it gets,” said Fuller, who was overtaken by Richards rounding the final turns. “I did screw it up; I’ll be the first to admit that I should’ve blocked the bottom. But when that happens – and then a month later we go to Canandaigua and we’re fast enough to get to (racer winner) Bub (McCool) but it just doesn’t happen – well, you feel like, Maybe it’s just not meant to be. For whatever reason, it was just not working out.”
A veteran racer who has made his living behind the wheel of dirt-track machines for nearly two decades, Fuller forced himself to keep his chin up through all the struggles. With quality equipment under him and continued support from Kennedy, his crew and his family, he knew, deep down, that brighter days were ahead.
“You know you can do it because you’ve done it before, but everything has to come together for it to happen,” said Fuller. “You gotta get things matched to the way you drive, and that has taken awhile because we’re still learning the new (Capital) car.