PLYMOUTH, Ind. — After a season spent wondering if he’d even get a chance to return to the United States and race, James McFadden’s podium finish with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series Thursday at Plymouth Speedway had to feel like a victory in some ways.
McFadden, who missed the spring and majority of the summer because he was stuck in Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions, returned stateside prior to the Aug. 6-8 360 Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway.
It’s taken some time, but McFadden and the No. 9 Kasey Kahne Racing team are starting to find their groove again.
The 31-year-old started eighth and raced his way well into the top five at the three-eighths-mile Plymouth dirt track, cracking the top three with 14 laps to go and later securing third after a back-and-forth battle with Gio Scelzi.
Afterward, however, McFadden noted that struggles in turns three and four prevented him from having enough speed to fight with teammate Brad Sweet and eventual winner Donny Schatz.
“It was a lot of fun,” said McFadden. “It was a fun, clean race. I’m just a little disappointed in myself, to be honest with you. I just couldn’t get (turns) three and four right, really the whole race. I was really good in one and two there, but I reckon I got three and four right maybe six times out of the whole feature (35 laps). That was really where we struggled in that one.
“I’m happy for the Karavan Trailers guys to get in on the podium from eighth, though. It’s a good run for us,” McFadden added. “We sat right on the bumper of the teammate most of the race. I felt like we were there, but not quite good enough to get the job done. We just needed to make my performance a little better in the driver’s seat. But it’s positive to be on the frontstretch right now, for sure.”
With a handful of races left before the season concludes, McFadden and KKR plan to keep the No. 9 Karavan Trailers-backed sprint car in the pit area with The Greatest Show on Dirt through the season-ending World Finals, scheduled Nov. 5-7 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
“The plan is to stay with the Outlaws for the rest of the tour,” he noted. “I’m looking forward to it; it’s obviously the best of the best guys to be running against. I’m thankful for the opportunity from KKR, and I would just like to get going a little bit better so we can win one of these things before the year’s out.”