Smith Heats Up as Outlaws Open California Tour HANFORD, CA (August 28) -- Stevie Smith will be the first to admit he wasn't among the hottest drivers on the tour when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened its 2001 season at Kings Speedway...
Smith Heats Up as Outlaws Open California Tour
HANFORD, CA (August 28) -- Stevie Smith will be the first to admit he wasn't among the hottest drivers on the tour when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened its 2001 season at Kings Speedway in February.
Smith and his #19 Ingersoll-Rand Maxim were practically on fire Tuesday when the series returned to Kings Speedway, however. The 1990 Rookie of the Year raced past Steve Kinser early in the 17th lap en route to his sixth "A" Feature of the season.
"I'm more hot than anything right now," Smith said in victory lane. "It was tremendously hot in the car, and with the way you have to use the brakes here the motor runs a little warmer, and that makes it even hotter. We're still up and down a little, but I think we've got things headed in the right direction with this Ingersoll-Rand car."
Smith, who stays with some close friends when sprint car racing's premier series visits the semi-banked, 1/3-mile oval, said Kings Speedway is like his home away from home.
"I want to thank Gary and Holly Mizenheimer," Smith said following the fourth victory of his career at Kings. "We stay at their house every time we come out here, and it makes this track seem almost like home. That makes winning here that much more special."
Smith, the third-fastest qualifier in the 34-car field, finished third in the Third O'Reilly Heat Race. He earned the privilege of starting the 30-lap main event inside the third row by passing two cars to finish fifth in the Channellock Dash.
"We got by some cars down low there in the dash, and I told my crew not to change anything on the car -- we'd just see what happened in the 'A,'" Smith said.
Steve Kinser, who has won seven Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series main events at Kings Speedway, passed pole-sitter Joey Saldana with an inside move between the first and second corners to take the lead early in the opening lap of the "A" Feature.
Smith raced past O'Reilly Heat Race winners Donny Schatz and Kasey Kahne during the second and third laps before engine problems forced Andy Hillenburg to drive his #2 Luxaire J&J into the pit area.
Kinser entered lapped traffic with a seven-car-length advantage six laps into the race.
Fast-qualifier Jeff Shepard raced past Schatz and Kahne during the fifth and 10th laps, while Smith challenged Saldana for second place. Stevie took the low line through turn two to pass Saldana early in lap 11.
Schatz drove the #15 Parker Stores J&J past Kahne in the low groove between the first and second corners to take over fifth place three laps later. Shepard used a similar move between turns three and four to pass Saldana for third place several seconds later.
Smith caught "The King of the Outlaws" midway through the race and challenged for the lead for two laps before passing him deep in the second corner early in lap 17.
Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Mark Kinser started inside the sixth row and drove the #5M Mopar Maxim past Kahne on the back straightaway with 9½ laps remaining to claim sixth place. Mark's 43rd-top 10 run of the season, coupled with Danny Lasoski's 12th-place finish, gave Kinser a 21-point advantage after 50 of the 64 events on the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' 2001 schedule.
Smith built a comfortable lead during the final 10 laps and took the checkered flag with 10 car-lengths to spare. The $10,000 victory was Smith's fourth in the series' last 17 "A" Features.
Shepard finished in third place, ahead of Saldana, Schatz, Mark Kinser, 14th-starting Tim Shaffer, Kahne, Randy Hannagan and Brad Furr.
Shepard's third-place finish pushed him past Shaffer and Hillenburg into seventh place in the point standings. The Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year candidate paced the qualifying session for the second time this season, driving Guy Forbrook's #5 Wirtgen Maxim around the track in 13.109 seconds, an average speed of 91.540 m.p.h.
Blake Robertson collided with Peter Murphy and spun on the back straightaway during the opening lap of the Fourth O'Reilly Heat Race. Robertson raced through the field and claimed the final transfer position by passing Danny Faria, Jr., in turn four as they headed for the checkered flag. Murphy, who qualified for the main event by finishing third in the "B" Feature, finished in 16th place. Robertson dropped out of the "A" Feature early and finished 24th.