I-55 II: Race report

Walker wins I-55 feature for ailing car owner. PEVELY, MO (July 12) -- Tyler Walker sure knows how to help his ailing car owner feel better. Wallace Ledford, owner of the ...

Walker wins I-55 feature for ailing car owner.

PEVELY, MO (July 12) -- Tyler Walker sure knows how to help his ailing car owner feel better.

Wallace Ledford, owner of the #35 C&W Motorsports Maxim, had been suffering from kidney stones for a week when Walker presented him with his second O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series "A" Feature victory of the year Saturday at I-55 Raceway. Walker was lucky to start the race at all -- his crew worked quickly to replace his engine between the First Dash Race and the main event.

"I owe this one to my crew," Walker said after turning his signature back flip on the front straightaway. "The worked hard getting that engine changed. I didn't think we were going to make it, and I kept telling them 'hurry up, we've got to go.' Some guys from some other teams came over, and even (NASCAR Winston Cup champion) Tony Stewart helped us out during that (38th-lap) red when our wheel was packed (with mud), and that was pretty cool.

"I'm just glad to be here in Missouri and racing at this track. This place is one of my favorite places we run. I was pretty tight getting into the corners, and getting in on the cushion helped me to loosen it up, and then I could turn and drive off the bottom getting out. I just have to thank Ricky Warner, my guys, John (Simanovich) and Eric (Manfrass), my girlfriend Sterling, and everyone."

Walker, the seventh-fastest qualifier in the 37-car field, started the First Dash Race on the pole but followed Joey Saldana and fast-qualifier Paul McMahan across the finish line in the seven-lap race. Walker's crew, with help from others, changed the engine in time for him to start the "A" Feature inside the third row.

Saldana drove his family's #17 Eagle Raceway Maxim into the lead as the green flag fell in the 38th main event of the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series' 25th Anniversary Season. Jason Sides, who didn't let a blown engine keep him from winning the Second Dash Race, battled Saldana through turns one and two, but was unable to surge ahead. Brian Paulus collided with First Heat Race winner Jeremy Campbell and spun early in the second lap.

Saldana controlled the ensuing restart, and was three car-lengths ahead of Sides when he entered lapped traffic two laps later. Walker, who passed McMahan during the second lap, used a slide move in turns three and four to pass O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series points leader Danny Lasoski for fourth place late in lap five.

Daryn Pittman steered the #21 Hop & Sack J&J into the low groove between the first and second corners to pass Sides for second place five laps later. Steve Kinser, who won the April 12th race at I-55 Raceway, surrendered eighth place the next time around when he stopped on the back straightaway with his right rear wheel packed with mud.

Lasoski, who challenged Walker for fourth place as the green flag replaced the yellow, lost fifth place to the rim-riding McMahan in turn two early in the 12th lap.

Saldana was seven car-lengths ahead of Pittman when he caught the back-markers a second time three laps later. Donny Schatz lost eighth place late in lap 17 when he stopped on the back stretch with a packed right rear wheel. Kraig Kinser's #11K Delco-Remy Maxim was unable to continue after hitting the outside retaining wall in the fourth corner as the race resumed.

Walker made his way to the front during the race's middle stages. He collided with Sides as he passed the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year candidate for third place deep in the second corner, then raced around Pittman high in turn two early in lap 26. Walker took the low line through turn three to pass Saldana, then slid in front of him in the fourth corner to maintain the lead 3 ½ laps later.

Jason Meyers, who started inside the seventh row, drove the #7 VMAC Maxim past nine cars in the first 30 laps, then exchanged fourth place with Pittman during lap 30.

McMahan and Lasoski took turns passing each other for sixth place during the final seven laps before Sides jumped the cushion, hit the retaining wall and flipped in turn two, setting up a three-lap dash to the checkered flag.

With four lapped cars restarting between him and Saldana as the race resumed, Walker controlled the final restart and claim the $10,000 first prize with a straightaway to spare. Pittman used an inside move between turns three and four to pass Saldana for the runner-up spot late in the final lap.

Meyers finished in fourth place, ahead of "The Dude," Schatz, Tim Shaffer, Kelly Kinser, Fourth Heat Race winner Johnny Herrera and McMahan. Lasoski's 30th top-five finish of the year gave him a 50-point lead over Steve Kinser in their battle for the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series championship.

Danny Smith won the Third Heat Race, then raced into 13th place from outside the ninth row in the "A" Feature. Craig Keel won the "B" Feature and passed eight cars to finish 15th in the main event.

The O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series will sanction the Eldora Clash Friday and the 20th Annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway Saturday.

-WoO-

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Tony Stewart , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Tyler Walker , Brian Paulus , Daryn Pittman , Jason Meyers , Jason Sides , Joey Saldana , Kraig Kinser , Paul McMahan , Johnny Herrera