LAS VEGAS, NV (October 31) -- Although he has fallen out of the battle for the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series' 25th Anniversary championship in recent weeks, Danny Lasoski has raced hard to the end.
The 2001 series champion dominated Friday's opening-night program at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, winning every race he entered: the Fourth Heat Race, the First Dash Race and the Preliminary Feature.
"This J.D. Byrider car was great tonight," Lasoski said. "(Crew chief) Jimmy Carr and my guys did a great job. We've struggled the last six weeks and let the point lead get away from us, but my guys never gave up. Nothing against the green (Steve Kinser's) team, but we just let this year get away, and this win will go a long way into carrying the momentum into 2004. Winning the Knoxville Nationals was the highlight of the season, and winning here tomorrow (Saturday) would just top it off for us."
Lasoski, who leads the series with 28 fast times, was the fifth-fastest qualifier in the 50-car field. He won his 10th Heat Race, his 13th Dash Race and his fifth Preliminary Feature of the year.
"The Dude" drove NASCAR Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart's #20 J.D. Byrider Eagle into the lead as the green flag fell in the evening's main event, and led all 25 laps to claim the $5,000 first prize.
Kinser, who started outside the second row, passed fast qualifier Joey Saldana in the low groove between the first and second corners early in the opening lap and challenged Second Dash Race winner Terry McCarl for second place the next time around.
Sammy Swindell, who won the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series "A" Feature at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on November 1, 2000, started inside the fourth row. The three-time series champion won a back-straightaway drag race with Johnny Herrera for fifth place late in lap four, just seconds before a flat left rear tire forced Brian Brown to stop in turn two.
Swindell challenged Saldana for a lap after the race resumed, then took fourth place with a high move through turn four late in the sixth lap. Swindell steered Dennis Roth's #1 Ore-Cal J&J into the low groove to pass McCarl one lap later.
Lasoski was a straightaway ahead of Kinser when he entered lapped traffic during the ninth lap. Swindell challenged "The King of the Outlaws" for three laps before passing him for the runner-up spot with an inside move between turns and four late in the 16th lap.
Saldana was trying to pass McCarl for fourth place two laps later when he almost collided with Randy Hannagan. Johnny Herrera steered Guy Forbrook's #5 MPD Hand Controls Maxim to the deepest point between turns three and four to pass Saldana for fifth place late in the final lap.
"The Dude" was a straightaway ahead of Swindell when he took the checkered flag. Kinser finished in third place, ahead of McCarl, Herrera, Saldana, Daryn Pittman, Third Heat Race winner Jason Meyers, Tim Shaffer and Craig Dollansky.
Donny Schatz, who won the 1999 season finale at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, experienced mechanical problems during time trials and took one lap at the end of the session. The 1997 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year was unable to start the Second Heat Race as his crew replaced the engine in his #15 Parker Stores J&J. Schatz won the "B" Feature and raced into 12th place from outside the 12th row in the Preliminary Feature, however. Schatz will receive Motorsport Video's Hard Charger Award Sunday evening during the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series' 25th Annual Awards Banquet at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino.
Jason Sides, who will receive the 2003 Rookie of the Year Award Sunday, was running sixth in the First Heat Race when the engine in the #7S Aramark Maxim lost power. Sides used a provisional to start the Preliminary Feature and passed 10 cars to finish in 15th place. Jac Haudenschild raced past 10 cars to finish 11th.