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Eagle report 97-06-27

Hillenburg Takes Eagle Nationals Opener By Richard Day EAGLE, NE (June 27) - Andy Hillenburg and Stevie Smith are the best of friends. They share each other's race shop often and Smith married Hillenburg's cousin,...

Hillenburg Takes Eagle Nationals Opener By Richard Day EAGLE, NE (June 27) - Andy Hillenburg and Stevie Smith are the best of friends. They share each other's race shop often and Smith married Hillenburg's cousin, the former Kendra Blevins. On the race track, however, they are fierce competitors. The former Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series Rookies of the Year had quite a battle on opening night of the 14th Annual Eagle Nationals Friday at Eagle Raceway. They started side-by-side in the Vivarin Dash and the Preliminary Feature and, after some tough, wheel-to-wheel racing, Hillenburg won both races. "It feels good to win our first feature," Hillenburg said. "We're happy to come away with the win for STP, John Christner Trucking and all the people who are behind us. We haven't had a win this year, and it's good to get our first at Eagle." Hillenburg and Smith, the third- and fourth-fastest qualifiers, finished first and second in the Vivarin Dash for the right to start the 25-lap Preliminary Feature on the front row. They raced wheel-to-wheel down the front straightaway as the green flag fell in the feature, and Smith surged ahead in turn two. Andy kept pace with Stevie, and almost passed him for the lead in the third corner. Smith was six car-lengths ahead of Hillenburg when they entered lapped traffic during the fourth lap. Stevie had a comfortable advantage three laps later when a mechanical problem caused Rookie of the Year candidate Donny Schatz to stop on the back straightaway. Although the #15 Blue Beacon Gambler was repaired quickly, Schatz was forced to restart the race at the back of the pack. Smith raced away from the field as the green flag replaced the yellow, only to have Hillenburg catch him on the front straightaway early in lap eight. Andy almost passed him for the lead in the second corner. Hillenburg made a run at Smith again three laps later as the leaders caught the backmarkers in turn three. The next time around, Stevie was running the low line and Andy took the high groove on the back straightaway as they passed Mallory Armfield simultaneously. A mechanical malfunction in the #5M Wirtgen Maxim caused defending Eagle Nationals champion Mark Kinser to drop back to 14th place seven laps into the race. He coasted into the pit area during lap 13. The 13th lap also proved unlucky for Smith. Still racing in dense lapped traffic, Hillenburg steered his #2 STP J&J to the deepest point in turn three to pass Stevie for the lead. Hillenburg opened a four-car-length advantage as 1992 Eagle Nationals champion Sammy Swindell closed in on Smith. Swindell caught Stevie during lap 17 and steered his #1 Channellock Gambler into the low groove between turns three and four to pass Smith for second place the next time around. Paul McMahan was in fifth place and threatening to take one of the four guaranteed starting positions in Saturday's Vivarin Dash when he allowed the #75 Mopar Stealth to hit the outside retaining wall in the third corner with five laps remaining. McMahan rode the wall to stay out of traffic, but flipped over it as he entered turn four. He was not injured in the crash. Channellock Fast-Time Award winner Jac Haudenschild battled Danny Lasoski for fourth place as the race resumed. He drove the #22 Pennzoil Maxim into the low groove as "The Dude" bicycled between the first and second corners to take over fourth place. Hillenburg was five car-lengths ahead of Smith when he took the checkered flag. The $4,500 victory was the ninth of Andy's career in a World of Outlaws Preliminary Feature. "The STP car worked well and lapped traffic went our way," Hillenburg explained. "When things go this smooth, it makes it seem like it's been an easy night. "Everything depends on lapped traffic at these little tracks. Actually, second might have been a better place to be running at the end, until that last caution. If we had gotten into lapped traffic again, I'm sure Sammy and I would have passed each other a couple of times." Smith and Haudenschild earned the other two automatic qualifying positions in Saturday's Vivarin Dash by finishing third and fourth, respectively. Completing the top 10 in the Preliminary Feature were Lasoski, Steve Kinser, Gary Wright, Joe Gaerte, Lance Blevins and Don Droud, Jr. WoO 1997 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series 14th Annual Eagle Nationals Eagle Raceway, Eagle, NE Friday, June 27, Preliminary Program Qualifications: 1. Jac Haudenschild, Elden 22, 11.411; 2. Danny Lasoski, Wahlie 1W, 11.504; 3. Andy Hillenburg, Hillenburg 2, 11.549; 4. Stevie Smith, Smith 19, 11.665; 5. Sammy Swindell, Swindell 1, 11.680; 6. Paul McMahan, Stanton 75, 11.687; 7. Don Droud, Jr., DOCC Motorsports 1BK, 11.776; 8. Steve Kinser, Kinser 11, 11.778; 9. Dion Hindi, Hindi 11D, 11.789; 10. Mark Kinser, Kinser 5M, 11.799; 11. Joe Gaerte, Gaerte 3G, 11.852; 12. Gary Wright, Action Motorsports 9, 11.902; 13. Johnny Herrera, Sonner 47, 11.918; 14. Dave Blaney, Blaney/Hylton 10, 11.934; 15. Lance Blevins, Blevins 21, 11.969; 16. Donny Schatz, Schatz 15, 11.975; 17. Greg Hodnett, Helm 11H, 12.054; 18. Jeff Swindell, Two Winners 7TW, 12.078; 19. Dan Oswalt, Oswalt D1, 12.345; 20. Larry Pinegar, Pinegar 11L, 12.525; 21. Tim Baker, Baker 29, 12.739; 22. Matt Richard, Richard 31, 12.790; 23. Kim Kennedy, Kennedy 1K, 12.876; 24. Mallory Armfield, Armfield 5MA, 12.882; 25. Dennis Parker, Parker 3, 13.256; 26. Jerry Vandenhul, Vandenhul 7V, 13.943; 27. Marlon Jones, SOS Racing 1J, no time. First Heat Race (10 laps): 1. Johnny Herrera, 2. Mark Kinser, 3. Donny Schatz, 4. Jac Haudenschild, 5. Stevie Smith, 6. Matt Richard, 7. Don Droud, Jr., 8. Dan Oswalt, 9. Dennis Parker. (first six qualified for the Preliminary Feature) Second Heat Race (10 laps): 1. Dave Blaney, 2. Greg Hodnett, 3. Steve Kinser, 4. Danny Lasoski, 5. Sammy Swindell, 6. Joe Gaerte, 7. Larry Pinegar, 8. Kim Kennedy, 9. Jerry Vandenhul. (first six qualified for the Preliminary Feature) Third Heat Race (10 laps): 1. Jeff Swindell, 2. Gary Wright, 3. Lance Blevins, 4. Paul McMahan, 5. Andy Hillenburg, 6. Dion Hindi, 7. Tim Baker, 8. Mallory Armfield. DNS - Marlon Jones. (first six qualified for the Preliminary Feature) Vivarin Dash (seven laps): 1. Andy Hillenburg, 2. Stevie Smith, 3. Jac Haudenschild, 4. Danny Lasoski, 5. Sammy Swindell, 6. Steve Kinser, 7. Paul McMahan, 8. Dion Hindi. (finish determined the first eight starting positions in the Preliminary Feature) B Feature (12 laps): 1. Don Droud, Jr., 2. Tim Baker, 3. Larry Pinegar, 4. Dan Oswalt, 5. Kim Kennedy, 6. Mallory Armfield 7. Dennis Parker ($150); 8. Jerry Vandenhul ($125). DNS - Marlon Jones. (first six qualified for the Preliminary Feature) A Feature (25 laps): 1. Andy Hillenburg ($4,500); 2. Sammy Swindell ($2,500); 3. Stevie Smith ($1,700); 4. Jac Haudenschild ($1,500); 5. Danny Lasoski ($1,350); 6. Steve Kinser ($1,250); 7. Gary Wright ($1,200); 8. Joe Gaerte ($1,100); 9. Lance Blevins ($1,075); 10. Don Droud, Jr. ($1,070); 11. Dave Blaney ($1,000); 12. Greg Hodnett ($800); 13. Dion Hindi ($700); 14. Donny Schatz ($630); 15. Jeff Swindell ($400); 16. Johnny Herrera ($400); 17. Tim Baker ($320); 18. Matt Richard ($300); 19. Kim Kennedy ($320); 20. Paul McMahan ($300); 21. Dan Oswalt ($320); 22. Mark Kinser ($300); 23. Mallory Armfield ($320); 24. Larry Pinegar ($320). Lap leaders: Stevie Smith 1-12; Andy Hillenburg 13-25 Channellock Fast-Time Award winner: Jac Haudenschild WoO

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