HANFORD, CA (February 22) -- Danny Lasoski opened the 2002 season the same way he ended last year -- atop the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series point standings. "The Dude," who finished sixth in his first International Race of Champions...
HANFORD, CA (February 22) -- Danny Lasoski opened the 2002 season the same way he ended last year -- atop the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series point standings.
"The Dude," who finished sixth in his first International Race of Champions competition a week earlier, won the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series 2002 season opener Friday at Kings Speedway, leading all 30 laps in the "A" Feature.
"My car was pretty good on the bottom, and that's where I tried to stay," Lasoski said following the 38th main event victory of his career. "I was having a tough time getting by some of the lapped cars, and I figured somebody would be showing me a nose (front of a car) pretty soon.
"I couldn't do any of this without J.D. Byrider, HAMM America, Verne Massey, American Compressed Steel, Eagle Chassis, Hoosier tires and Kistler engines. My crew -- Jimmy Carr, Todd Splain and Bobby Mack -- is the best."
When asked about his IROC experience, Lasoski said, "I'm really proud to represent the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series and dirt track racing in IROC. Everything I've learned in a sprint car goes out the window when I'm racing with those guys. I think they probably wondered if I had any talent at all, but then toward the end they started running with me, so maybe we can get a little better at the next one."
Lasoski couldn't have performed much better Friday when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened its 25th season. He was only .001 seconds off fast-qualifier Joey Saldana's pace in time trials, finished third in the Second Heat Race and earned the right to start the "A" Feature on the pole by winning the First O'Reilly Auto Parts Dash before dominating the main event.
"The Dude" drove NASCAR Winston Cup star Tony Stewart's #20 sprinter into the lead as the green flag fell in the "A" Feature. He was opening a comfortable advantage over Jac Haudenschild when Brad Furr stopped on the back straightaway with a flat left rear tire midway through the second lap.
Tim Shaffer, the new driver of the #83 Beef Packers Eagle Lasoski drove before last season, used an inside move in turn two to pass Haudenschild for second place as the green flag replaced the yellow.
Defending World of Outlaws Gumout Series champion Daryn Pittman exchanged sixth place with Mark Kinser during the third lap, then spun the #21 Hop-n-Sac Avenger in turn one the next time around.
Brian Paulus, who raced past four cars in the first four laps, took the inside line through turn four to pass Kinser for sixth place late in lap six. Pittman brought out the caution flag again two laps later when a mechanical malfunction caused him to stop in the third corner.
Stevie Smith, who left his own team to drive David Helm's #11H Vivarin Maxim, took the high line around "The Wild Child" between turns one and two for third place early in the eighth lap. Kinser used a similar move to pass Paulus for sixth several seconds later.
Kinser, who finished only 30 points behind Lasoski last year in the closest points race in Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series history, continued his run toward the front two laps later. "Mopar Mark" passed cousin Steve Kinser high in the fourth corner, then restarted in fifth place one lap later after Kyle Schild stopped in turn three with a broken torsion stop.
Lasoski raced away from the field when the race resumed, and was 10 car-lengths ahead of his closest pursuers when he entered lapped traffic midway through the race.
The Kinser cousins passed Haudenschild during the next five laps, Mark for fourth place late in lap 16 and "The King of the Outlaws" for fifth early in the 21st lap. Mark steered the #5M Mopar Maxim around Smith high in the fourth corner to take over third place late in lap 25, only to have cousin Steve and Smith pass him in dense lapped traffic the next time around. Mark claimed fourth place early in the 29th lap, riding the rim around Smith between turns one and two.
Shaffer cut Lasoski's advantage in half by the 20th lap, but was five car-lengths behind at the checkered flag. Steve Kinser finished in third place, ahead of cousin Mark, Smith, Haudenschild, Sammy Swindell, Jason Meyers, 15th-starting Donny Schatz and Saldana.
Engine problems in the #83jr Beef Packers Eagle caused Swindell to miss his turn in the qualifying order. He received credit for the 17th-quick after recording the 10th-fastest lap.
Craig Dollansky crashed with Mark Kinser and Lawrence Edlund early in the Second Heat Race, then used a backup car after mechanical problems in the #7 Polydome Maxim cost him third place in the race. Dollansky raced past eight cars in the "B" Feature to qualify for the main event, then finished 17th in the "A" Feature.