Calistoga: Harvest Classic first prelim report

Lasoski tightens points race in Harvest Classic opener. CALISTOGA, CA (August 29) -- Danny Lasoski closed to within 24 points of Steve Kinser in their battle for the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series Silver Anniversary championship Friday at ...

Lasoski tightens points race in Harvest Classic opener.

CALISTOGA, CA (August 29) -- Danny Lasoski closed to within 24 points of Steve Kinser in their battle for the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series Silver Anniversary championship Friday at Calistoga Speedway when he won the Preliminary Feature on opening night of the 11th Annual Harvest Classic.

"The Dude," who won the 2000 Harvest Classic, passed Sammy Swindell late in the second lap en route to his third Preliminary Feature victory of the season. Kinser, a five-time winner at Calistoga Speedway, crashed with pole-sitter Brian Paulus 6 2/3 laps into the race and finished in 23rd place.

"I have to thank my whole crew tonight," said Lasoski, who led the point standings for 45 of the first 46 events. "The J.D. Byrider, Home Depot, Mopar car has been running good the last month or so. We've been trying to catch up to that 11 car (Kinser) in the points, but Steve's got a great team over there and we just have to keep plugging along.

"Paul Kistler built me a great engine. It's something kind of experimental, and it ran really good tonight. Starting sixth like that, you just never know what's going to happen, but Jimmy Carr did a great job and gave me a great car. I'm really glad Tony (Stewart) signed his deal (with Joe Gibbs Racing that will keep him behind the wheel of the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet) this week. Maybe it means I'll have a job for the next six years. This is a dream come true for me to drive for Tony Stewart. I couldn't do this without him, and I can't wait to call him and tell him about this. He told me this was his favorite dirt track he ever raced, and he drove here in a midget."

Lasoski, the second-fastest qualifier, followed Swindell and Johnny Herrera across the finish line in the Second Dash Race for the right to start the 25-lap feature outside the third row.

Swindell, whose crew replaced the engine in the #1 Ore-Cal/Beef Packers J&J following the First Heat Race, burst into the lead as the green flag fell in the evening's main event. Roger Crockett and First Heat Race winner Brad Furr crashed on the front straightaway, however, bringing back the original start. Sammy, who has won three main events at Calistoga, raced around Paulus high in turn two when the race resumed to take the lead again. Lasoski won a back-stretch drag race with Paulus to take over second place midway through the first lap.

"The Dude," who prefers to race in the inside groove, took the high line around Swindell in the fourth corner the next time around. Herrera drove Guy Forbrook's #5 MPD Hand Controls/Wirtgen Maxim past Paulus deep in turn three several seconds later.

Joey Saldana, who paced the qualifying session with a 110.112-M.P.H. lap around Calistoga's semi-banked, ½-mile oval, took the low line through the second corner to pass Paul McMahan for fifth place early in lap four. Jonathan Allard collided with Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year candidate Jason Sides and rolled over in turn two the next time around.

Herrera and Saldana continued racing toward the front when the race resumed, passing Swindell and Paulus for second and fourth place, respectively.

Paulus spun into Kinser in the third corner late in the seventh lap, causing both to flip into the retaining wall. Neither driver was injured, but the severe damage their cars suffered kept them from racing beyond the 10th lap. McMahan and third Heat Race winner Tim Shaffer exchanged fifth place as the race resumed and late in the ninth lap.

Lasoski was a straightaway ahead of Herrera when he entered lapped traffic midway through the race. Herrera lined up behind "The Dude" six laps later, however, after Sides stopped in turn three with a flat right rear tire. Herrera's crew realized his right rear tire was losing air pressure during the caution period, but the 1986 Rookie of the Year continued racing and maintained the runner-up spot.

McMahan and Shaffer passed Swindell between turns on and two as the green flag replaced the yellow. McMahan, Saldana and Shaffer raced three-abreast through the second corner, but Shaffer lost fourth place when he collided and flipped with Craig Stidham in turn three.

Donny Schatz, who started outside the fifth row, put on a late charge toward the front after the green flag replaced the red. The 1997 Rookie of the Year drove his #15 Parker Stores J&J past Randy Hannagan and McMahan on the restart, then took the high line around Swindell for fourth place early in the 25th lap.

Herrera persevered through tough obstacles to finish second, half a straightaway behind Lasoski.

"It's been a tough night," Herrera said. "We went out and broke a rear end and some of the drive train, and had to change that. Then we broke a motor in the heat race and had to go back out and change that, so my hat's off to Guy Forbrook and the whole team for doing a great job. MPD Hand Controls, Wirtgen, Goodyear Tires, they've all been great to me ever since I hooked up with Guy to run this car. Hopefully tomorrow will be a little better for us."

Saldana finished in third place, ahead of Schatz, Swindell, McMahan, Hannagan, Furr, "B" Feature winner Brent Kaeding and 19th-starting Jason Meyers. Dennis Moore, Jr., raced past 10 cars to finish 13th.

-WoO-

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Tim Shaffer , Brad Furr , Danny Lasoski , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Brian Paulus , Jason Meyers , Jason Sides , Joey Saldana , Jonathan Allard , Paul McMahan , Randy Hannagan , Roger Crockett
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing