After one third of the 2002 season, the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series is as unpredictable as the racing surfaces on which it races. Three drivers have exchanged the points lead 10 times and 11 have combined to win the first 26 "A" ...
After one third of the 2002 season, the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series is as unpredictable as the racing surfaces on which it races. Three drivers have exchanged the points lead 10 times and 11 have combined to win the first 26 "A" Features.
"The World of Outlaws is getting more and more competitive every year," series Founder and President Ted Johnson said Tuesday. "We had the closest points race in our history last year and now we have three past champions battling for the title. You never know who's going to win from one race to the next and we're proud of that."
Danny Lasoski started the season like he would become only the third repeat champion in series history, reeling off 10 straight single-digit finishes. Sixteen-time champion Steve Kinser took the points lead from "The Dude," however, with a victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and a double-feature sweep at new Hollywood Hills Speedway. Mark Kinser, who won series championships in 1996 and 1999, used successive victories at Houston Raceway Park and Pike County Speedway to catapult himself into first place in the point standings.
"The King of the Outlaws" took the lead for two events with fourth-place finishes at I-55 Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway before Lasoski's double-feature sweep at the Talladega Short Track gave him first place again. "Mopar Mark" regained the points lead with a victory at Lakeside Speedway, but has fallen on tough times since his father and crew chief, 17-time series championship car owner Karl Kinser, has been absent from the tour recovering from hernia surgery.
Steve Kinser's 25th "A" Feature victory at Knoxville Raceway pushed him into first place in the standings April 26th, marking the third time as many races a different driver led the ever-changing points race.
"The Dude" took the lead with a runner-up run at State Fair Motor Speedway, only to have Steve Kinser move into a first-place tie with him by winning the "A" Feature at Williams Grove Speedway May 16th. Kinser held the lead for a season-high five straight events before Lasoski passed him with victories at Rolling Wheels Raceway and Sharon Speedway.
Lasoski and Steve Kinser took advantage of the other's mechanical problems twice within four days in late May. "The Dude" was 5 2/3 laps from winning the Lebanon Valley Speedway Memorial Day race when the throttle linkage broke on NASCAR Winston Cup star Tony Stewart's #20 J.D. Byrider Eagle, allowing Kinser to claim the $10,000 first prize. An engine failure in his #11 Quaker State Maxim cost "The King of the Outlaws" a victory at Sharon Speedway two races later, giving Lasoski the opportunity to win the series' inaugural race at former champion Dave Blaney's track.
Kinser and Lasoski took the emotional roller coaster ride in stride.
"Last night, I was leading and broke, and there were still 24 cars out there running around," Kinser said after winning at Eldora Speedway June 1st. "Monday night, Danny was leading and broke and there were only 12 cars left running, so that kind of hurt us a little in the points. But it's still way too early in the year to think about that stuff, even though it does play on you a little."
Lasoski, who exchanged the points lead with Mark Kinser 11 times in 27 events before winning the closest points race in Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series history a year ago, knows it's a long season.
"This doesn't make up for Lebanon Valley," Lasoski said after winning at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park, "but that's just part of racing with the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series. There's 100 nights of racing in a year, and sometimes you have bad nights. We just try to be consistent night in and night out. If we do that, the points will take care of themselves."
"The Dude," Steve Kinser and 2000 World of Outlaws Gumout Series champion Craig Dollansky have been the most consistent drivers, racing into the top 10 in all but four main events. Dollansky dominated the April 13th event at Eldora Speedway, setting the single-lap record at "The World's Fastest Half-Mile" and winning the "A" Feature.
Tyler Walker leads the Gumout Series standings and, with five top-five finishes in eight Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series events, ranks 18th in that series. Walker's victory at State Fair Motor Speedway May 10th was his first in almost three years.
Greg Hodnett became the first non-regular to sweep a Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series double-feature event in 5 ½ years when he won the Preliminary and "A" Features in the XM Satellite Radio Outlaws Showdown at Lowe's Motor Speedway May 24-25.
Defending Gumout Series champion Daryn Pittman didn't let the back injury he suffered at Hollywood Hills Speedway keep him down. He has driven Sher-Don Racing's #21 Hop & Sac J&J to victory at Perris Auto Speedway and Hagerstown Speedway.
Joey Saldana, Stevie Smith, Brad Furr and Jac Haudenschild have also won Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series main events, while Johnny Herrera won a Preliminary Feature at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Eight engine failures have cost Furr dearly, but he has still finished among the top 10 in half of the "A" Features.
Donny Schatz has yet to visit victory lane, but four straight top-five finishes in late May serve notice the #15 Parker Stores J&J will be a winner soon. Drivers with new teams -- Tim Shaffer, Danny Wood and Herrera -- have come close to winning main events as well.