Steve Kinser Completes Eagle Nationals Sweep Eagle, NE -- June 18, 2005 -- Steve Kinser has had some impressive runs this season, but it will be tough for him top his performance in the Eagle Nationals. After dominating Friday night's ...
Steve Kinser Completes Eagle Nationals Sweep
Eagle, NE -- June 18, 2005 -- Steve Kinser has had some impressive runs this season, but it will be tough for him top his performance in the Eagle Nationals.
After dominating Friday night's preliminary feature at Eagle Raceway, Kinser rolled through the main event Saturday in front of packed grandstands to capture his 10th Eagle Nationals title.
Along the way, he led all 70 laps of the two-day event, he won the Stacker 2® Dash on both nights to earn the pole and collected $17,000 in winnings. Combined with his son, Kraig, Steve Kinser Racing has taken the checkered flag on five of the past six race nights.
Jason Meyers, who was hanging onto second with three laps to go in the preliminary feature when his car was damaged in an incident in Turn 2, earned some redemption in the main event with a runner-up finish. Craig Dollansky was third, followed by Brian Paulus, Kraig Kinser, Donny Schatz, Brooke Tatnell, Tim Shaffer, Daryn Pittman and Jason Sides.
"We had a good car all weekend," said Kinser, a Mean 15 racer from Bloomington, Ind., who earned his 12th A-feature victory of the season. "Everything went good. We watched the track and got down into the right places at the right time. We had a good weekend, that's all I can say. We were good from the first time we hot lapped. We made a lot of changes on the car and everything we did kept making it a little bit better."
With temperatures rising and winds gusting during the day, keeping moisture in the racing surface was nearly impossible. It was clear early on that tire management would be critical to lasting all 40 laps.
Kinser quickly opened a nearly three-second advantage on Meyers, the night's fastest qualifier. But Kinser caught the rear of the field and was forced to pick his way through traffic, allowing Meyers to cut the gap on a long green-flag run.
Then with 16 laps down, Johnny Herrera turned sideways on the backstretch, bringing out a caution and giving drivers a chance to catch their breath. They realized rubber had begun to build on the track. With another 24 laps to run around the 1/3-mile oval, drivers began to alter their strategy.
"I was trying not to get to the lapped cars," Kinser said. "Once it laid that rubber around the bottom, it's not much fun to race in because there's only one groove. It's hard for anybody to pass you and it's hard for me to pass anybody else. My big concern then was just taking it easy on my tire. I had a little softer tire than what I probably should have had on. I was back-pedaling from before halfway, saving the tire."
It was difficult to take advantage of the situation. Running a different line than Kinser would surely make it impossible to keep his pace. Rather than run the risk of falling back in the field, Meyers fell in line behind Kinser, as did Dollansky and Paulus. The four then edged away from the rest of the field.
The best opportunities to gain ground in the lead pack came off of restarts. After a caution on Lap 21, Dollansky tried to slide under Meyers in Turn 1, but Meyers held his ground.
With clear track in front of him, Kinser was uncatchable. Then nervousness began to set in when Paul McMahan, who was running fifth, shredded his right rear tire with 10 laps to go. The rest of the drivers hoped they had enough tread left to finish.
Leading the top four cars around the bottom groove, Kinser had a difficult time putting a lap on Gene Ackland. That allowed Meyers to close quickly, but with three to go the caution waved as Herrera and Jason Solwold had tire trouble.
Kinser had a great jump on the restart, but in Turn 3 Tim Kaeding made contact and with Terry McCarl, sending Kaeding on a wild ride that would knock out both cars and rip off the wing from Tim Shaffer's machine. Under a red flag, officials decided to open the track to allow refueling of the cars.
At that point, Kinser was able to clearly see he had enough tread to reach the finish, provided there weren't any more cautions.
"I knew I had enough tire," Kinser said. "I still had a little tread left. By then, probably the only thing that could have happened to us is if something broke. We weren't going to get into traffic in three laps. The only other thing that could have happened is if somebody else blew and tire and they just kept blowing them and blowing them until it finally got to ours, but that wasn't the case.
"I still didn't run it real hard [after red]. Everybody was real low on tires so if somebody blows a tire on the restart and you run a lap or two and then you go back for a green-white-checkered and it can keep snowballing. I've seen it happen before. Finally it gets to you. I was glad to see it went three laps without anybody blowing a tire."
The final three laps ticked off smoothly, with nobody in the lead pack willing to risk stepping out of line to challenge for the lead.
"It just wasn't very much racing," said Meyers, a Mean 15 racer from Clovis, Calif., who is third in points. "The concern when you have a 40-lap race is if your tire is going to make it. We had a good car. We could have maybe tried to banzai Steve, but are you going to going up there and wear your tire out? If you blow the tire, you're going to finish 24th. We settled in and rode home second, something we should have gotten last night.
"When the yellow came out and they said 16 laps down and we were already locked down on the rubber, that concerns you right there. You still have 24 laps to go and you're locked down on the rubber. We went with a harder tire for that reason and it paid off."
Dollansky held off Brian Paulus' attempt to sneak into third in Turn 2 on the final restart. He then powered down the backstretch as the top four fell back in line.
"This place really can be a good racy racetrack, but it rubbered up pretty early and turned into a follow-the-leader type of race," said Dollansky, a Mean 15 racer from Elk River, Minn., who picked up his 14th top-five of the season. "You're just biding your time, really. You just have to keep your car straight. When the rubber groove hits, your car gets a little bit tighter. It's just tough to race when the rubber gets like that."
In the early going, Paulus was running smooth, consistent laps while running in the top five, but when Dollansky shot past him he realized he needed a new game plan.
"We had a good start," said Paulus, a Mean 15 racer and native of Mechanicsburg, Pa. who earned his third top-five this year. "We were in line running fourth, fifth, sixth, picking through cars a little bit. I got a good line on the bottom and I got up into third and I thought, 'Oh, this is going to be great.' Then on the next corner, Dollansky blew by me like I was sitting still. I thought, "Uh oh, the rubber must have just come in.' I jumped up in the line quick and stayed there. The only thing I was worried about from about Lap 15 on was blowing my tire.
"I knew from my vantage point, the three guys in front of us weren't doing anything to crash their cars or blow tires. I knew the guys behind me weren't going to be doing anything any more stupid than I was going to try. We just got to a point where I just said, 'We're going to sit here. If Craig makes a big mistake, I'll go by him. If not, I'll just finish where I am.' A couple of times his car got a little tight and he pushed. I stuck my nose in a little bit, but I wasn't going to force the issue. I pulled into line. On the last lap we had a right rear tire shake pretty bad so I knew the tire was only two or three laps away from blowing."
* Although his crew was at Eagle Raceway, Joey Saldana did not race Saturday night in the Eagle Nationals feature. He was injured Friday night in a crash during the third heat race. Although he walked away from the incident, Saldana was later transported to a local hospital because he complained of stiffness in his neck. By rule, he and his team will receive 50 points.
* After finishing in the top four Friday night in the preliminary feature, Steve Kinser, Terry McCarl, Brian Paulus and Craig Dollansky automatically transferred into the Stacker 2® Dash on Saturday and did not time trial or heat race.
* Steve Kinser won the Stacker 2® Dash for the second consecutive night. He earned the pole in the Dash by winning the preliminary feature Friday night. Craig Dollansky slid into second ahead of Jason Meyers, Terry McCarl, Brian Paulus and Paul McMahan.
* In the B-main, Shane Stewart opened up a lead of more than seven seconds on his way to a rout and a transfer to the feature. Gene Ackland was second, followed by Mike Chadd, Sean Walden and Rick Ideus.
* In heat race action, Brandon Wimmer, Travis Rilat and Donny Schatz earned victories.
* Jason Meyers was the fifth of 25 cars to go through time trials and he paced the field with a lap around the 1/3-mile oval in 11.749 seconds at 102.340 mph. Joey Saldana established the single-lap record of 11.124 seconds on Sept. 20, 2002.
* The World of Outlaws Sprint Series moves on June 22 to race in the Arctic Cat Nationals at Missouri State Fair Speedway, June 24-25 to Knoxville Raceway and June 28 at Huset's Speedway.
* All of the action from the Eagle Nationals will air at 8 p.m. (ET) on July 6 on The Outdoor Channel. The Outdoor Channel will air June 22 the race at Eldora Speedway from June 4, followed June 29 by the race last week from I-96 Speedway.