CONCORD, N.C. — James McFadden considered it “a relief” that he was able to travel to the United States to compete with Kasey Kahne Racing with Mike Curb this season.
Not only did he do that, McFadden was able to earn one of his biggest wins yet, topping the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series field at Missouri’s Lake Ozark Speedway.
With that success in mind, McFadden is looking toward the future. He’s hopeful of a renewal with the team and a return to the No. 9 sprint car fielded by former NASCAR star Kasey Kahne.
McFadden told Sprint Car & Midget during the recent World of Outlaws Last Call weekend at The Dirt Track at Charlotte that while “nothing’s been agreed to” in regards to a formal deal for 2021, that “there have been some conversations” and he’d like to continue with the team if there’s a chance to do so.
“It’s just a family atmosphere,” said McFadden of KKR. “We all get along on and off the track, and I think that’s a big part of (what makes teams successful). We all get along. We’re all friends. They treat me like family, and obviously being over here (and away from Australia) is tough. I don’t have any family or … you know, a lot of close people over here. So to be so close with this team is great. And they treat me like I’ve been a part of the team for the last 20 years. So that helps a lot.
“There’s a lot of knowledge between everyone that’s worked across the board for this team as well,” McFadden continued. “It just all has snowballed into a good time and a fast race car.”
That fast race car was piloted by Kahne for the first half of the season, while McFadden was stuck in his native Australia due to international travel restrictions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 31-year-old admitted there “were a few doubts at times” that he’d be able to race in the United States at all this year, but he was able to come stateside just before the 360 Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway in August.
“We were gearing up for quite a big year, and obviously the pandemic hit the world and pretty well messed up everyone’s plans,” noted McFadden, who was scheduled to return to Australia on Wednesday. “To finally get here and to be racing was really good. I have to thank them (KKR) for hanging in and waiting for me. We slowly got faster and faster all season long.
“It’s just been good to be able to make some laps and get off the couch at home and get out in a race car.”
McFadden counted his victory in the Jason Johnson Classic at Lake Ozark Speedway in Eldon, Mo., as “by far” his biggest moment of the year. It marked his first World of Outlaws-sanctioned win with KKR and his second victory in 91 starts with The Greatest Show on Dirt.
“We’d been so close with the Outlaws, you know? I think we had five or six second-place finishes on the Outlaw tour since I came over to KKR, but we’d been in positions to win them and been in the top five. So I knew we were capable,” McFadden explained. “We just finally put a whole night together and won the Jason Johnson race, which was special for me because Jason was really close to our family. I spent a lot of time with him in Australia when he’d come down there to race, so it was just a special weekend.
“It was good to get the KKR guys a win as well and repay them for a little bit of what they’d held out for me to be able to get here (to the U.S.),” he continued. “To finally get one in the books was important to all of us. It was a long time coming. Hopefully, that one helps it start to become a little easier for us to win because I think we’ve always had the speed. We just never put a whole night together before that.
“That’s a sign, I think, of how much better we’ve become. The more races we run together, the faster we get.”
It’s that speed McFadden hopes to build on if he can return to KKR next season.
“As I’ve said, there’s nothing done yet, but I want to be back if all the pieces can come together and they’ll have me again,” McFadden said. “I enjoy running with these guys and we have a good time.”