Kings: Season opener preview

Outlaws to open 25th Anniversary season Friday. HANFORD, CA (February 17) -- The old guard will meet an influx of new talent when the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series opens its 25th Anniversary Season Friday at Kings Speedway. Defending and ...

Outlaws to open 25th Anniversary season Friday.

HANFORD, CA (February 17) -- The old guard will meet an influx of new talent when the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series opens its 25th Anniversary Season Friday at Kings Speedway.

Defending and 17-time series champion Steve Kinser, along with former champions Danny Lasoski and Mark Kinser, will be challenged by youngsters Tyler Walker, Jason Sides and P.J. Chesson for the $10,000 first prize as the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series opens its 72-event schedule at Kings Speedway for the fifth straight year.

"I've been running with the World of Outlaws since 1978, so it's an everyday thing for me," Kinser said during the off-season. "Being able to do it for 25 years is quite an accomplishment right there.

"We had a really good year last year and I'm hoping we come out of the box this year and can be just as good. Maybe we can win that 25th Anniversary championship."

Kinser won 20 "A" Features, including his 12th Mopar Parts Knoxville Nationals, a year ago. "The King of the Outlaws" drove his #11 Quaker State Maxim into the top 10 in 59 of 67 races, including 46 in the top five, in 2002.

Kinser and Lasoski will make a cross-country trip from Daytona Beach, FL, where they raced in the True Value International Race of Champions opener at Daytona International Speedway last Friday. "The King of the Outlaws" finished sixth, while "The Dude" followed NASCAR Winston Cup racers Mark Martin and Kurt Busch under the checkered flag in third place.

Lasoski, who won the 2002 O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series opener at Kings Speedway, was battling to defend his O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series championship last July 26th when he was injured in a crash at Williams Grove Speedway. He eventually finished in second place with 13 main event and four preliminary feature victories in NASCAR Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart's #20 J.D. Byrider Eagle. Two-time series champion Mark Kinser drove father Karl's #5M Maxim to victory at Pike County Speedway, Houston Raceway Park and Lakeside Speedway last year. He also won four preliminaries.

Walker and Sides, who finished first and third in the World of Outlaws Gumout Series standings a year ago, are two youngsters who are poised to make their mark on sprint car racing's premier series. Walker won O'Reilly of Outlaws Series "A" Features at State Fair Motor Speedway and State Fair Speedway and put together a perfect performance on opening night of the Charlotte Outlaws Championship at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway last year.

Sides was the National Sprint Car Poll 410 Rookie of the Year, the World of Outlaws Gumout Rookie of the Year and the Rookie of the Knoxville Nationals in 2001. Chesson made a name for himself as much for what he did during the races he won as what he did afterward. His front-straightaway doughnuts and fence climbing following the nationally televised Preliminary Feature victory at Red River Valley Speedway and "A" Feature victory at New Egypt Speedway left fellow racers and fans in awe.

Craig Dollansky won "A" Features at Eldora Speedway and Nebraska Raceway Park in Karavan Racing's #7 VMAC Maxim on his way to finishing third in the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series standings a year ago.

Joey Saldana led the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series with 21 fast times in 2002. He is driving his family's #17 Eagle Raceway/HEM Saw Eagle again after racing into fourth place in the point standings last season. Saldana won five "A" Features, including the Kings Royal that paid him $50,000.

Tim Shaffer is back in Californian Dennis Roth's #83 Beef Packers Eagle for the second year. The 1999 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the won the "A" Feature at Grays Harbor Raceway Park and two preliminary features.

Donny Schatz drove his #15 Parker Stores J&J to victory in the Duel in the Dakotas at Red River Valley Speedway July 6th and at The Raceway @ Powercom Park four days later.

Californian Brad Furr, the runner-up in the 2001 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year race, drove his #2 Sanmina-SCI Eagle to victory at Texas Motor Speedway, Watsonville Speedway and Port Royal Speedway last season.

Randy Hannagan, the 1995 Rookie of the Year, showed no ill effects from the severe leg injury that caused him to miss the final two months of the 2001 season, finishing 10th in the 2002 point standings.

Daryn Pittman recovered from a back injury that caused him to miss nine events last March and April to earn the Hard Charger Award. The Owasso, OK, driver won six "A" Features and finished 11th in the point standings. Pittman's victory at Perris Auto Speedway last February was the first of his career. The series returns to Lake Perris, CA, Saturday for another $51,600 event.

Jac Haudenschild is back with the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series and Guy Forbrook for the second straight season. "The Wild Child" drove the #5 Wirtgen Maxim to victory at I-55 Raceway last March 30th and swept the 1/3-Mile Short Track Nationals at Eagle Raceway in September.

Johnny Herrera is back in the #2W Heintz Brothers Maxim owned by Bill Wilburn, crew chief for NASCAR Winston Cup racer Rusty Wallace. The 1986 Rookie of the Year won the preliminary feature on opening night of the Silver State Shootout at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last March.

Jeff Shepard, the 2001 Rookie of the Year, returns to the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series in Helm's #11H Vivarin Maxim.

Brian Brown, Lasoski's nephew, takes over the driving chores in Lonny Parsons' #6 Casey's General Stores Maxim this year.

The O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series will celebrate its 25th Anniversary at 50 racing facilities in 27 states while running 72 events over 100 dates in 2003.

-WoO

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Kurt Busch , Tim Shaffer , Brad Furr , Mark Kinser , Danny Lasoski , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Craig Dollansky , Tyler Walker , Brian Brown , Daryn Pittman , Jason Sides , Joey Saldana , Randy Hannagan , P.J. Chesson , Jac Haudenschild , Johnny Herrera
Teams Williams