HEINTZELMAN: Low-Budget Wolfe Performs Well With Outlaws

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ON THE GAS: Lucas Wolfe pilots his No. 5w during the Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway. (Dick Ayers Photo)

LIVERPOOL, Pa.

Experience is everything when trying to succeed with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. For Pennsylvania native Lucas Wolfe, the 2010 season was his third with the traveling group.

Although Wolfe didn’t get that coveted first victory, he did make his presence known to the Outlaws veterans.

“It’s all about experience and it comes over time,” Wolfe said. “The biggest thing to success out here is experience.”

That experience, especially on the smaller tracks, led to 14 top-five finishes, including three runner-ups, and 28 top 10s. He finished eighth in the points.

The first half of the season went well for the 2007 Pennsylvania Speedweek champion, but some mechanical problems and some crashes hindered his efforts during the second half.

“We started the year well and were competitive,” Wolfe said. “We found a better balance in the car with the tire change [Goodyears]. We were up to speed from the start. We were competitive pretty much the whole year, but we did fall off at the end. We had a few things that all happened at once.”

Wolfe, 24, nearly scored his first victory at Huset’s Speedway in South Dakota, but Steve Kinser and Sammy Swindell passed him with six laps to go.

“Those tracks are a little bit tricky to me yet,” Wolfe said. “We used to race bigger tracks [in Central Pennsylvania] and now we’re on small, tight tracks. We were good there the whole time and we were afraid to change too much and the track ended up going away more than we expected and we weren’t quite good enough. Steve and Sammy are the ones who passed me and they are extremely experienced and good at those places.”

He took the lead from Outlaws champion Jason Meyers at Missouri’s I-55 Raceway in turn three on the final lap, but Meyers slid back in front of him exiting turn four to score the $20,000 Ironman 55 victory.

“It’s disappointing not to be able to win because we’ve been competitive enough to win on many occasions,” Wolfe said. “We just don’t seem to put the whole thing together. We continue to get better and better each time we go somewhere for the second or third time.”

He set quick time in five races and three of those were track records. He won three dashes and six hard charger awards.

Wolfe and his dad Randy, along with one full-time crew member, spent the year on the road with the Outlaws up against some tough competition and well-funded operations such as teams owned by NASCAR drivers Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne.

“At the end of the day, they can only race one of everything. When we’re racing, we really don’t have anything different.”

He was rookie of the year in 2008, but that season was cut short by a broken back, so last year was his first full year on the road. His experience started to pay off this year.

“When you get to places more, you’re going to improve at them,” Wolfe said.

He has been racing sprint cars for eight seasons now in a car owned by Jim and Laura Allebach, who have owned race cars for 20 years. They started with Wolfe in micro sprints and moved up to the 410 sprints when he turned 16.

“We’ve always wanted to do this and it’s good that we got the chance,” he said.

The team is finalizing its plans for 2011.

The Outlaws completed 69 features this season. The 2011 season begins Feb. 11 at Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park.