2005 World of Outlaws Sprint Series Season In Review: March through April Norman, OK -- Nov. 4, 2005 -- As the World of Outlaws Sprint Series schedule picked up steam in March, Craig Dollansky was the driver on the move. A native of Elk River, ...
2005 World of Outlaws Sprint Series Season In Review: March through April
Norman, OK -- Nov. 4, 2005 -- As the World of Outlaws Sprint Series schedule picked up steam in March, Craig Dollansky was the driver on the move.
A native of Elk River, Minn., and a former Gumout Series champion, Dollansky was coming off a victory at Bakersfield Speedway to close out February when the Outlaws invaded Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix for the two-night Cactus Classic beginning March 4.
Dollansky chased Danny Lasoski throughout the 25-lap preliminary event when he finally charged to the rear of Lasoski's machine in Turn 4 with two laps to go. Just then, Lasoski hit heavy traffic. Dollansky cut from the top to the bottom on the half-mile oval and had just enough room to slip past Lasoski.
Once in front, Dollansky held on to win by less than half a second, earning the pole for dash on the feature night and closing on Steve Kinser in the championship standings.
The Cactus Classic opener also marked Brooke Tatnell's return to the series as the pilot of the newly formed Rush Racing Eagle. After a 14-hour journey from his native Australia, Tatnell arrived at Manzanita just a couple of hours before the green flag waved, and pulled out a fifth-place finish that helped to set the tone for his highly successful season.
The stage was set for a highly anticipated main event with Dollansky, Lasoski, Steve Kinser and Shane Stewart already locked in when the skies in Phoenix opened up. After two days of rain, the finale had to be postponed until the series could return to Phoenix in October.
The Outlaws left Arizona and headed toward the bright lights of Las Vegas for another two-night event. And this time there would be no rain to interfere with the action, just strong wind.
On the preliminary night, Kraig Kinser led the field through the bottom groove. Dust began to fly and the swirling winds made it nearly impossible for racers to follow their lines in Turns 3 and 4.
When the cloud of dust finally cleared, Kraig Kinser had held off Shane Stewart to emerge in front for the second time in his career with the Outlaws. But it was third-place finishing Donny Schatz who would make the most of his preliminary feature effort.
On the final night of the event in front of a standing-room-only crowd, Schatz forced his way past Craig Dollansky with seven laps to go, touching wheels in the process, and set his sights on leader Kraig Kinser.
The two circled the half-mile oval side-by-side before Schatz powered to the lead under the flag stand and made his advantage stick coming out of Turn 2 with six laps to go. Schatz then pulled away by 3.1 seconds for his second consecutive Las Vegas A-feature win.
Dollansky held on to finish third, moving him to the top of the standings as the Outlaws headed to Mississippi and Texas for back-to-back race nights at Pike County Speedway and Houston Raceway Park.
At Pike County, Steve Kinser began his charge back toward the top of the standings when he and Brooke Tatnell staged a thrilling finish, with Kinser hanging on to win his second race of the season by a fraction of second on the 3/8-mile oval.
Kinser was in front with seven laps to go when he hit heavy traffic. Dollansky and Tatnell closed fast. Tatnell dove to the bottom and motored to the lead down the backstretch with six to go.
Kinser weaved through the traffic, not ready to concede the win. He slipped back in front of Tatnell on the bottom of Turn 2 with three to go. Tatnell tried to charge back once again, but he simply ran out of laps.
"We had a motor running hot the whole time," Kinser said that night. "We couldn't really run it hard because we had to let it cool it back down. I got into all those lapped cars and I didn't know what to do and [Tatnell] slipped by me. I sort of slid him a little bit coming off Turn 2 and got pretty close but we got away with a win I guess."
It was a fitting way for Kinser to lead the Outlaws back to Houston, where in 2004 he captured the 500th main-event win of his long career.
But once at the 4/10-mile oval in Baytown, it was Donny Schatz who stole the Texas Shootout for his third victory of the young season. Schatz grabbed the lead from pole-sitter Brandon Wimmer 13 laps into the feature, with Steve Kinser and Tim Shaffer slipping past Wimmer as he tried to recapture the lead from Schatz.
Schatz put his machine on the cushion while Kinser tried to work the bottom to cut into Schatz's advantage. Shaffer then charged past Kinser and looked to make a move on Scahtz, but Kinser charged back around Shaffer on the top in Turns 3 and 4. With Kinser and Shaffer battling back and forth, Schatz edged ahead until Shaffer's left rear tire gave out, bringing a caution with it.
Schatz powered back on the restart but Kinser stayed with him. That set up the thrilling finish with Schatz forcing his machine to the finish first to win by 0.27-seconds. Dollansky wound up third to maintain his points lead.
"It feels good to be [in Victory Lane]," Schatz said after twice being a runner-up in Houston. "[The race] didn't really feel that good -- [but] it's nice to get a win here in Houston."
The Outlaws then did something they rarely ever do during a season -- they took a weekend off before charging into April. It was the only scheduled weekend without racing until the season ended in October.
When the series kicked off April, Kraig Kinser was on fire. With races on back-to-back nights at Batesville Speedway and I-55 Raceway, Kinser proved to be the most dominating. He shattered the Batesville single-lap record by more than a second as he rolled to victory by leading all 30 laps for the second A-feature victory in his career.
Daryn Pittman gave chase once the track began to take rubber, but Kinser was too strong for anybody to challenge him as he moved to third in the standings.
"I was just cruising tonight," Kraig Kinser said afterward. "That's all I was doing. I got close to the front straightaway wall and I decided to just try to keep it easy and not push it too hard and not shoot myself in the foot. Everything worked out. The car got a little loose at the end so I pulled the wing back and it started hooking back up again when the rubber came in. You can't ask for much more than that."
Steve Kinser finished behind Pittman but held off Craig Dollansky to pull into a tie with Dollansky atop the points as the series rolled into suburban St. Louis and I-55 Raceway.
Again, Kraig Kinser found his way to Victory Lane, but it was as easy as the night before. He started seventh at I-55 and followed Tim Kaeding around the 1/3-mile high-banked oval that featured multiple grooves and slid jobs on seemingly every inch of dirt.
Kinser and Kaeding tracked down pole-sitter Jason Meyers. First Kinser powered around the outside of Kaeding, then he grabbed the lead on Lap 6 on the bottom in Turn 4. Craig Dollansky then pinned Kaeding to the bottom and used a caution to eliminate Kinser's straightaway advantage. Kinser quickly shot out on the restart, leaving Dollansky to contend with a couple of lapped cars. By the time Dollansky cleared the traffic, Kinser was taking the checkered flag for his second consecutive win.
His runner-up finish was enough to keep Dollansky atop the standings as the series shifted to the intimidating half-mile Eldora Speedway for a two-night race.
In the preliminary feature, Sammy Swindell fought off Jason Solwold to give car owner Guy Forbrook his first trip to Eldora's Victory Lane.
After winning a heat and the second dash, Swindell cruised along in the feature waiting for a chance to pounce on pole-sitter Solwold. Swindell got his chance when Solwold caught the rear of the field on Lap 12. Solwold tried to run through the middle, leaving Swindell a lane around the top. Swindell powered to the lead off of Turn 4 and won by 1.29 seconds.
"I knew out in the open, the way [Solwold] was running it was going to be awful hard to pass him so I didn't want to get too close to him," Swindell said that night. "If you get close with somebody, you kind of lose the front of the car a little bit. So I wanted to stay back and not abuse the tires early, make sure we had a good car and I could sit back and kind of gauge what he was doing, and what I could do to be better when we got to traffic."
Swindell ran out of luck in the main event when his right rear tire exploded while he was chasing down leader Steve Kinser. With Swindell out, Kraig Kinser and Tim Kaeding gave chase from second and third. Then in one of the season's most memorable runs, Kaeding put his machine on the top just inches from the wall, passed Kraig Kinser and sliced Steve Kinser's lead to less than half a second with five laps to go.
But Kinser was able to clear some traffic and open his advantage again, making it nearly impossible for Kaeding to run him down in only the third start in his career at Eldora.
"I ran pretty good all the way but they said Tim got to beating the top in Turns 1 and 2 and started gaining some time on us," Steve Kinser said after winning for the third time. "I got in a little bit of a conservative mode. Sometimes you get in it and somebody gets by you and it's hard to get back by them. You have to watch what you're doing."
Kinser's victory moved him back atop the standings, a position he would maintain for the remainder of the season.
In fact, that victory at Eldora seemed to be the spark Kinser needed to start a winning streak. The series next shifted the paper-clip-shaped quarter-mile Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind., where like at Pike County, Kinser and Brooke Tatnell staged a thrilling duel.
Kinser posted the sixth-fastest time of the night and won the second dash to start alongside Tatnell in the front row. Kinser got the jump and led all 40 laps, but Tatnell wouldn't go away and wound up in second after Kinser was able to smoothly work through traffic.
"You just want to try to get the lead, get up on top and go," Kinser said after the win. "That's all I was trying to do."
Kinser needed a different theory to win in the next race as the Outlaws made their series debut at Outlaw Motor Speedway in Muskogee, Okla. Jason Meyers had the field covered until two red flags with three laps to go gave Kinser all the opportunity he needed.
Kinser was moving forward all race by working the bottom groove, but Meyers was on the way to his first victory. On the final restart, Meyers shot out to the lead on the top side of the track as Kinser dove to the bottom. They came around the 3/8-mile oval racing side-by-side out of Turn 4. Kinser edged in front at the flag stand with two laps left and again dropped to the bottom in Turns 1 and 2. Keeping his quick pace on the bottom, Kinser pulled out to a slight lead and held off Meyers to win by 0.74 seconds for his third consecutive victory.
The following night in the Wichita Twister Showdown at 81 Speedway, Daryn Pittman was hooked up. Pittman was the fastest qualifier on the 3/8-mile oval, then he won the Stacker 2 Dash and drove away from Steve Kinser on a restart in the main event with six laps to go for his first A-main feature victory since Aug. 3, 2003.
Pittman's win also marked the first victory on the World of Outlaws Sprint Series circuit for car owner and Australia native Reeve Kruck.
On restarts, Pittman quickly built an advantage. But like the night before, a late-race red flag threatened to change the almost certain outcome. This time, though, Pittman pinched the field to the bottom of the track and then surged to the high side in Turns 1 and 2, keeping Kinser about six car-lengths behind.
"They're all good, but this win ranks probably as high as my first one," Pittman said following the victory.
That set the stage for the Outlaws first visit of the season to historic Knoxville Raceway, running a two-night event to close out April.
Brooke Tatnell was well on his way to victory in the preliminary feature when a lapped car jumped up and took him out on the final lap. That put Danny Lasoski in front to hold off Steve Kinser and win for the 85th time in his career at Knoxville. Tatnell had been pushing hard, especially down the stretch in an effort to fend off Lasoski and Kinser.
"I just knew that [Tatnell] was better than we were in the rubber and I needed lapped traffic to slow him down," Lasoski said after winning. "I just put myself in position to make something happen on that last lap."
With Lasoski and Kinser locked into the front of the dash for the finale, there was little doubt the 25-lap finale would be a classic battle.
Kinser edged in front exiting Turn 2 on the first lap, leaving pole-sitter Lasoski to battle with Sammy Swindell for second. Lasoski worked the low groove with Swindell on the top.
Only six laps in, Kinser hit traffic that allowed Lasoski and Swindell to close the 1.07-second gap. Lasoski then slid up the track as Kinser started lapping cars on the low side. Lasoski gained momentum at the top and pulled even with Kinser as Swindell tucked down to the bottom to try the low groove.
Lasoski surged to the lead coming out of Turn 2 on Lap 12, only to see Kinser slip back in front as they exited Turn 4 on Lap 14. Kinser then stretched his advantage as the field began to settle and took the checkered flag 0.988 seconds ahead of Lasoski for the 519th main-event victory in his career. Swindell cruised to the finish in third with six-time Knoxville Raceway champion Terry McCarl in fourth as the series geared up to enter the busy summer months.
Next up: Our review of the 2005 season will continue with recaps of the action from May and June.
2006 racers at a glance: Justin Henderson
2006 racers at a glance: Brian Carlson