By Richard Day TERRE HAUTE, IN (May 11) -- The roller-coaster battle for the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series championship took another sharp turn Friday during the U.S. Dirt Nationals at the Terre Haute Action Track. Two-time series...
By Richard Day
TERRE HAUTE, IN (May 11) -- The roller-coaster battle for the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series championship took another sharp turn Friday during the U.S. Dirt Nationals at the Terre Haute Action Track.
Two-time series champion Mark Kinser regained the points lead with his third victory in the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' last four races at the legendary half-mile oval. The $10,000 victory pushed him three points ahead of Danny Lasoski in the standings.
"This track seems to suit my driving style," Mark said after the fifth victory of his career at Terre Haute. "My crew guys -- Willie (Kahne), Justin (Adams) and Dennis (Kohler) did a great job tonight. These guys could be crew chiefs on any team out here, and they done an excellent job working with my father Karl."
Mark was equally excellent, racing through the field en route to his sixth victory of the season. After qualifying sixth-quick and finishing third in the Third O'Reilly Heat Race, Mark earned the right to start the 30-lap "A" Feature inside third row by finishing fifth in the CHANNELLOCK Dash. He steered the #5M Mopar Maxim to the lowest point in turn four to pass Craig Dollansky for the lead with 8 1/4 laps remaining and won with 10 car-lengths to spare.
"It's really great to get one (win) in front of all these Hoosiers," Mark said. "We've struggled a bit this year, and I still need to get my qualifying times better. It used to be I could qualify before I could even race. I could go out and set quick-time, then hit something in the pits on my way back. I'm sure I'll get the qualifying part worked out.
"We've have the whole clan out here at the track tonight, and if it wasn't for a lot of these people, I wouldn't be here."
CHANNELLOCK Dash winner Brian Paulus raced wheel-to-wheel with Donny Schatz as the green flag fell in the main event. Paulus drove P and P Motorsports' #28 Verdelli Farms Maxim into the lead on the back straightaway, only to have Jerrod Hull spin in turn two.
Schatz burst into the lead when race resumed, and Dollansky passed Paulus for second place with an inside move between the third and fourth corners late in the opening lap.
Kinser, who passed Third O'Reilly Heat Race winner Jeff Shepard early, won a back-stretch drag race with Paulus for third place midway through the second lap.
A mechanical problem in the #19 Ingersoll-Rand Maxim caused Stevie Smith to stop on the back straightaway two laps later. Paulus jumped the cushion in turn three on the ensuing restart, allowing Shepard and Lasoski to pass him.
Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year points leader Brad Furr lost 10th place when he spun in the second corner early in lap nine. "The Dude" stopped NASCAR Winston Cup star Tony Stewart's #20L J.D. Byrider Eagle on the front stretch with a rear end problem during the caution period. Lasoski didn't make it back for the restart, but "B" Feature winner Dale Blaney gave him another chance when he stopped in turn four when the #10 U.S. Print/MBNA/Mopar Maxim jumped out of gear.
Dollansky, the defending World of Outlaws Gumout Series champion, challenged Schatz for the lead when the green flag replaced the yellow. Tim Shaffer stopped the #11H Vivarin Maxim in the fourth corner with a flat right rear tire the next time around, however.
Dollansky passed Schatz for the lead in the low groove between turns one and two as the race resumed. Kinser used an identical move to take over second place early in the 12th lap.
Dollansky was three car-lengths ahead of Kinser when he entered lapped traffic four laps later. Mark steadily gained on Craig during the next six laps and passed him for the lead late in the 22nd lap.
Dollansky regained first place in the low groove between turns one and two the next time around, but an electrical problem in the #11 Quaker State Maxim caused Steve Kinser to stop in turn four, nullifying the pass. Jason Meyers, who spun in the second corner as Kinser stopped, spun in the same spot three laps later, setting up a five-lap dash to the checkered flag.
Kinser and Dollansky raced side-by-side into the third corner on the final restart, but Kinser surged ahead in turn four and increased his lead through the final 4 1/4 laps.
Schatz held off Shepard for third place. Fast-qualifier Randy Hannagan passed Joey Saldana -- making his debut in the #83 Beef Packers Eagle -- for fifth early in the 28th lap. Lasoski raced back through the field to finish in seventh place, ahead of Andy Hillenburg, 19th-starting Paul McMahan and Danny Wood.
Defending Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series champion Steve Kinser received the World of Outlaws Driver of the Year award from the Hoosier Auto Racing Fans Club during an intermission.
Sammy Swindell, racing with the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series for the first time in five events, was the 22nd-fastest qualifier in the 30-car field and raced into 16th place from outside the 11th row.