Along the World of Outlaws Trail By Richard Day As the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series prepares to take a break for the holidays, I've found myself feeling thankful to have completed 12 seasons ...
Along the World of Outlaws Trail By Richard Day As the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series prepares to take a break for the holidays, I've found myself feeling thankful to have completed 12 seasons with "the greatest show on dirt" ... I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everybody - from our many fans and gracious sponsors to our teams and track promoters - a merry Christmas, a happy New Year and a restful off-season. We're all going to need plenty of rest as we prepare for what promises to be a very busy 1999 ... After El Nino claimed four of our first seven races, we lost only two more dates during the rest of our 20th Anniversary Season. Let's hope his sister, La Nina, will treat us better as we close out the millennium ... Although he did it in rather uncharacteristic fashion, Steve Kinser showed he's still "The King." Six victories, the second-lowest total of his incredible career, would be a career year for most drivers. What returned him to his throne was his ability to finish races. He failed to finish only one of 65 races, despite going through the transition from Scott Gerken to Guy Forbrook as his crew chief. He recorded 58 top-10 finishes, including 42 in the top five, and admitted he had a ball doing it ... Here's an astounding statistic I ran across recently. Kinser led 176 laps, a little more than half as many as Mark Kinser and Sammy Swindell who tied for the series lead with 344. Both won more often than "The King," too, but they couldn't match his consistency ... Another statistic I was proud of was World of Outlaws Online's hit parade reaching 50,000 a day. I'd like to thank the many fans who surfed into the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' official web site on a regular basis ... What I'll remember most about 1998 is Brad Doty returning to the cockpit of the #18 Coors Light Gambler. Ten years to the day after suffering career-ending injuries during the Kings Royal, Doty paced the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' famous "Four Abreast" parade lap at Eldora Speedway. Anybody witnessing this priceless event who didn't have to wipe away tears doesn't have a heart ... The 1998 Amoco Knoxville Nationals was the most memorable in years. Danny Lasoski's long awaited and hard-fought victory thrilled hundreds in the stands and still thousands more who covered their ears as Ralph Sheheen yelled, "Way to go, Dude" and watched the action on TNN Motorsports. Another heartwarming memory involved the Schatz siblings. Donny's last-lap pass of Steve Kinser gave him a fourth- place finish while Deanne was the runner-up in the Queens Pageant ... What a season Stevie Smith and Jac Haudenschild had. Smith's first year with Ingersoll-Rand as his sponsor couldn't have been much better. He led the point standings for the first time in his career and paced the series with 13 "A" Feature victories. Haudenschild enjoyed a career year despite an injured shoulder that caused him to miss the three New York races in June. Forbrook, his crew chief for 1 1/2 years also left during that period. "The Wild Child" returned with "Banzai" Bruns as his head mechanic and reeled off nine straight top-five finishes. He won all five pre-Nationals features at Knoxville Raceway, swept the Kings Royal weekend at Eldora Speedway and claimed his first Gold Cup Race of Champions title. He won 11 main events, almost doubling his previous career high. I just hope prospective sponsors take note of that and provide Jack Elden with the backing he and Haudenschild need to continue racing with the series ... The same goes for Tyler Walker. He burst on the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series scene with more flash than any driver in years, only to have Dale Blaney out-score him for the Rookie of the Year award. He's another driver who needs corporate sponsorship to continue racing full-time with the series ... It was good to see former Rookies of the Year Jim Carr and Johnny Herrera secure quality rides since the season ended. Carr hasn't raced in three years, but Joe Blevins is confident Jim's driving will soon match his mechanical skills and the #21 Up Front Phone Cards J&J will be running with the leaders. Craig Cormack might put his Knoxville track championship aspirations on hold if Herrera can keep the #1BK Burger King Eagle up front ... I'm glad Luxaire noticed Andy Hillenburg persevering through the season without a major sponsor and chose to back him for the next couple of years. John Christner Trucking, Klein Engines and STP served as his associate sponsors last season when Andy finished in the top six in the point standings for the seventh straight year ... Daryn Pittman could be the series' next Rookie of the Year as he takes the reins of the #47 Casey's General Stores Maxim. Interviewing him was truly refreshing. His voice was filled with excitement. I hope he can maintain that enthusiasm throughout his first full season on the tour ... It'll be interesting to watch the new Mopar team. Karl Kinser is the most innovative man in sprint car racing and Mark Kinser won a championship in 1996. Don't be surprised if they don't win another title next season.
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Pennzoil Extends World of Outlaws' Title Sponsorship