World of Outlaws Late Model Series
T-Mac rides resurgence into home region events
By Kevin KovacWorld of Outlaws Late Model Series
Tim McCreadie is walking with a bit more spring in his step and smiling a little more brightly. Yes, a happier T-Mac is materializing as his performance improves — and with the World of Outlaws Late Model Series ready to begin a two-week, eight-race stint in his native Northeast region, his resurgence couldn’t come at a better time.
McCreadie, 38, of Watertown, N.Y., has heated up over the past month, registering four top-five finishes (including a victory) and no runs worse than seventh in six May starts on the WoO and winning twice en route to the Appalachian Mountain Speedweek championship. He’s understandably feeling good about his Sweeteners Plus team as the World of Outlaws circuit contests a pair of 50-lap, $10,000-to-win events this weekend at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway on Saturday and Eriez Speedway in Hammett, Pa., on Sunday.
“I feel like we’re a lot closer (to finding consistent speed) than we were even two weeks ago,” said McCreadie, who went without a top-five finish on the 2012 WoO until he won the season’s 10th event, on May 4 at 311 Motor Speedway in Pine Hall, N.C. “I thought we were close then, but I think we’ve been learning more and we gained even more the last two nights of (Appalachian Mountain) Speedweek (back-to-back triumphs at Pennsylvania’s Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex and Lincoln Speedway).
“We’ll see when we go racing (this weekend), but I like the direction we’re going. We got stronger the last two nights (of Speedweek) than we had been all week, which is why I feel like we’re on to something.”
McCreadie’s early-season struggles to get rolling with his new Warrior Race Cars prompted him to change his approach. He’s refocused his efforts, especially since last month’s loss of crew member Barry Knapp left him with only one fulltime mechanic, Craig McCrimmon.
While McCreadie receives assistance at most events from Warrior's Sanford Goddard and periodically picks up volunteer help from long-time friends, “it’s me and Craig” handling the preparation of the equipment, he said.
“We’ve talked, and we can’t be reactive no more,” McCreadie said. “We gotta always be proactive, always know, ‘OK, if we got two cars to service, let’s get it done so we can get parts together for something else that’s going on.’ We’re trying to get into a rhythm with everything we do.”
McCreadie wants to get back to running up front race-in and race-out, a level of synchronicity he’s only captured in short bursts since ripping off eight WoO victories in 2005 and winning the tour championship in ’06.
“The only time we’ve been consistent in the last couple years was when the track hit the car and the setup I would like to run,” said McCreadie. “When it would hit us perfect, then you’d see a flash that we were back. We tried all kinds of different things and different programs to get that consistency, but we were only fast when everything fell to us.
“Now I feel like we got a program with our car. We’re starting to get consistency — and once you get your package feeling the way you want it, and it’s fast, you can take it everywhere. Then you can try to do what (Darrell) Lanigan’s doing and string stuff together.”
Lanigan, the current WoO points leader and only driver with more than one win this season (five entering this weekend’s action), has set a high bar for McCreadie and Co.
“What he’s doing definitely makes you raise your game,” McCreadie said of Lanigan, who passed McCreadie in the final laps to win the May 25 WoO race at Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, Ohio. “You have to try harder — I mean, we can’t give him every damn dime we got here.
“It’s not demoralizing that he’s so good right now, but if you’re the right guy it pisses you off. I know who Darrell Lanigan is and I know who I am as a driver, and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to try to get what he’s getting.
“They went to work and found something, and we were skating along on the same deal. Well, cars change, chassis builders change things, and if you stay on the same path and it doesn’t work for you, then you gotta try something different.
“I truly believe that when we hit it on this car, we’re gonna be competitive with Darrell Lanigan. Now, can we beat him every night? I don’t know about that. But we’re gonna be competitive with him.
“Right now he’s just really on his game,” McCreadie added, “and I watch what his car looks like and I try to get my car to react like that. I don’t know what he’s doing, but I’m trying to get my car to make it look the same as his. He hustles, but it looks like when he drives smooth, it just drives itself. It just looks really nice out there, and that’s what I’m looking for.
“Hopefully we’re almost there. I feel like we are.”
McCreadie will race this weekend at two tracks where he’s enjoyed some success. He owns two career WoO victories at Hagerstown — both in 2005, when he raced forward from 17th to win a 30-lap preliminary feature and then dominated the next night’s 58-lap feature to pocket a cool $15,000 top prize — and he has two fourth-place finishes (from 22nd in 2008 and 14th in ’11) and one seventh-place run in WoO action at Eriez.
McCreadie’s most recent visit to Hagerstown came just two weeks ago when he finished second to Jamie Lathroum of Mechanicsville, Md., in the half-mile oval’s Appalachian Mountain Speedweek event. He raved about the track’s surface that evening.
“It was great,” said McCreadie. “I mean, it was so good. It was awesome to race on.
“It was actually a little bit slower, and you could run all over that thing. Jamie Lathorum could’ve started further back than he did and won the race – he was that good, and the track was that good. Hopefully when we go back it’ll be a lot of the same.”