Scott James found the magic formula at the end of the 2018 season as the Lawrenceburg, Ind. driver ended the campaign with a string of top-10 finishes highlighted by two consecutive victories at 411 Motor Speedway in November and December. Those finishes, combined with a $15,074 win at Wisconsin’s Beaver Dam Raceway back in August, have the 47-year-old racer feeling good about the end of one season and the beginning of the next.
James had never raced at 411 until he showed up and collected a win in the Leftover just after Thanksgiving. He followed that up with a second victory in as many starts at the Seymour, Tenn. facility in the Hangover on December 29th.
What is it about 411 that brings about such success for James?
“It seems to fit the way we like to do some stuff,” James explained in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “Obviously we’ve got a good car right now and that’s made a big difference and we’re racing more. Anytime you can go somewhere twice and win both times you’re there it’s special considering it’s east Tennessee, which is one of the hotbeds for Dirt Late Model racing. It just feels good so maybe we can come back in April(Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series on April 5th) and make it three in a row.”
It’s a long haul from Lawrenceburg, Ind. to Seymour, Tenn. Considering that the two races paid $5,000-to-win and $4,000-to-win respectively, the team had to feel pretty confident to set off on the journey.
“I think it’s just the fact that we were running so good at the end of the year and we wanted to keep up the momentum,” James said of his decision to come to 411 twice. “Some people told me about this place and that I would probably like it and obviously it’s worked out pretty well for us.”
Both the Leftover and the Hangover featured significant attrition. Heavy rains that fell in the days leading up to the race held on the weekend prior to New Year’s Day created a track that proved to be challenging for the competitors. James believes his team’s preparation was key to their success.
“It does say a lot about my guys and the parts made for these cars,” the driver known as ‘The Silver Shark’ pointed out. “Pro Power Engines, the Rocket XR1, and my guys and their maintenance program is second to none. And the guys that own this car keep new parts on the car. These were tough conditions tonight, tougher than last time. We might not have been the best car, but the car held up and nothing went wrong.”
The No. 83 car took the early lead at the start of the Hangover but Chicky Barton wrested the lead away on lap 13. However, Barton suffered a flat tire shortly thereafter. James believes the two would have had a good race had it not been for Barton’s misfortune.
“It was going to be tough because his car was good,” James said. “I made a mistake and he got by me. He had a flat right rear tire but that’s racing and I’ve been on that end of the stick before. He was probably a little better than me but even when he got by me he wasn’t getting away from me by too much.”
Mack McCarter then took a turn at the front of the field when James bobbled on lap 19. But again, the challenger to Indiana driver’s supremacy would find disaster.
“After McCarter got by me I settled in then he kind of hit a little hole and got messed up with a lapped car and got into the wall on the front stretch,” the winner of 71 feature races recalled. “I think we had Lady Luck on our side tonight and the car held up.”
But by the end of the main event, James found the line to best get his car around the difficult track.
“I was having some inconsistencies out there,” he admitted. “But finally with eight laps to go after that caution I found a line that had been working pretty good right before that and I ran it. I think for the last eight laps we hit eight pretty good laps. I don’t know what was happening behind but those were probably my best eight laps of the race.”
And now the hope for Scott James and his team is that the success found at the end of 2018 will carry over to the upcoming season.
“It’s great momentum. We’ve got a lot of sponsors on board that are coming back next year and we’re looking to have just as much success or more, obviously. We want to run some bigger shows and run up front with the guys that we used to run with. I ran the Lucas Oil series back eight or nine years ago. We’re not out on the road with them as much as we used to be but I feel like I know how to keep up with those guys.”
The Dolhun Motorsports team plans to kick off 2019 with the World of Outlaws Late Model Series at Georgia’s Screven Motors Speedway on February 8th.