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Returning to Form - Chapman Back in Figure 8 Action

By Ken de la Bastide

(March 11, 2011) – After being away from racing for more than three years, driver Curtis Chapman teamed up with car owner Terry Malone Jr. in 2010 and almost walked away with the Figure-8 championship.

Chapman admitted recently that he wondered if the skills to drive competitively were still there.

Entering the 2010 season Chapman planned to compete with Denton Poore and just days before the season got a call from Malone that he purchased the car and wanted him to drive.

“There were a lot of questions going into last year,” Chapman laughed. “Was I a washed up driver, could I still drive. I wondered if I was still a good driver after not competing for several years.”

Those skills were evident during last season when Chapman won his second National Crown as a driver and third overall. One of the victories came as a car owner for a mount driven by Mark Goettman.

Chapman, 43, operates his own construction business and has been working at Allison Transmission for three years.

He took time away from racing to coach baseball and football, but continued to follow the Figure-8 action at Anderson Speedway. He started racing 15 years ago in a Naskart at Speed Creek Speedway in Lapel and on the high-banked oval at Anderson Speedway.

“It was fun, until you flipped,” Chapman said of racing a Naskart at Anderson “The first flip was something you had to experience, just to see what it was like. After that it wasn’t any fun.”

Chapman started competing on the Figure-8 track when the speedway added a Thunder Car division to compete in crossover action. He said Dale Phillips got him into racing.

Chapman said the 2010 season was like a dream for the team. In addition to winning the National Crown, the team rattled off three consecutive feature wins.

“We had the right game plan for the National Crown,” he said. “It was kind of like winning that race the first time. It was awesome for the team.”

Chapman believes the team is in a position to contend for the 2011 championship but is expecting the level of competition to be even higher than it was in 2010 when he battled most of the year with eventual champion Rod Phipps.

“We want to build on the success of last year,” he continued. “I go to the track to win, I’m not there to junk someone else’s car. It’s fun when you know who your racing against.”

In addition to driving for Malone, Chapman has a car prepared that Goettman will drive several times in 2011.

“Figure-8 racing is different,” he said. “It many respects it is survival of the fittest. It’s like everyone is a cop and they’re chasing you.“If you drive a race car you do something wrong,”

Chapman said when commenting on contact with another car, “it’s all a part of learning.

Chapman hopes to have a ThunderCar ready to compete in the season opening Enduro race on March 26.

Over the years Chapman has driven a Street Stock at Salem, Winchester and Mt. Lawn speedways and would like to drive a Late Model. “I can’t turn down an offer to drive a good car,” he said.