After finishing last season with a rush in his USRA B-Mod, Shawn Strong got a running start to 2017 with a highly successful visit to the Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout in Arizona.
"It definitely was a confidence booster," Strong said of a victory, a runner-up finish (rallying from starting 23rd) and a fourth (after beginning 15th) in four starts during the series of races at Arizona Speedway near Phoenix.
So it's little wonder that the Billings, Mo., driver—after three Lucas Oil Speedway feature wins and a fourth-place finish in the track's 2016 points chase despite missing some events—is fired up and primed for a big 2017.
"I really believe that we have the speed and all the backing to make it happen," Strong said. "I feel like we're just coming into a sweet spot of a career. The knowledge is there. We don't come to the track guessing what we're going to do. I look for us to have a very good year."
Strong, 37, has been driving B-Mods for about eight years after spending a couple of years in Street Stocks. The 2016 season was his best yet with the success at Lucas along with a $5,000-to-win triumph at Legit Motor Speedway in West Plains among several other feature wins around the region.
"We hit on some things mid-summer and from then on, we were pretty good just about everywhere we went the rest of the season," Strong said of his Ruble Racing Engines-powered Larry Shaw Race Car.
"That relationship has been really big," Strong said of Shaw, based in Batesville, Ark. "Those guys took a little of what they do and took a little of the key things that I do and put them together. I can't complain. They're a huge part of why we're doing as good as we are."
A new Shaw car—but with a twist—is under construction. Strong said it's an "SS" (Shawn Strong) model with some of his own ideas incorporated into the design.
"We just swapped a few little things around and created that car," Strong said. "Just some things we've learned from this car over a period of time. We have it probably two-thirds of the way done and Jim Ruble's putting a motor in it for me.
"We still have the car in the that we call 'Old Faithful.' We'll take it to the (March) races and have the new one ready for when we start racing closer to the house" in April.
Mike Warnow returns as crew chief and Strong's sponsor list, along with Shaw Race Cars and Ruble Racing Engines, includes: AFCO Racing Products, Dynatech Headers, Speedway Motors, Gilman Racing, Midwest Sheet Metal, R&R Graphics and Base Heating and Cooling.
The 2017 Lucas Oil Speedway season begins with the Weekly Championship Series opener on April 8.
Lucas Oil Speedway is located at Highways 83 and 54 in Wheatland, Missouri. A campground with shower and bathroom facilities is also available. With it's entrance located just outside the pit gate this sprawling scenic camping facility will continue to enhance the racing experience at the Diamond of Dirt Tracks.
Click www.LucasOilSpeedway.com for more information and detailed directions to the speedway or call the Track Hotline at (417) 282-5984. In addition, fans can get social with Lucas Oil Speedway by following @LucasSpeedway on Twitter, clicking "Like" at www.facebook.com/LucasOilSpeedway and on www.youtube.com/LucasOilSpeedway.