Las Vegas Thursday report

Kraig Kinser dusts off World of Outlaws Sprint Series preliminary win in Las Vegas Las Vegas -- March 10, 2005 -- Kraig Kinser emerged from a cloud of dust in strong wind to capture the J.D. Byrider World of Outlaws preliminary feature Thursday...

Kraig Kinser dusts off World of Outlaws Sprint Series preliminary win in Las Vegas

Las Vegas -- March 10, 2005 -- Kraig Kinser emerged from a cloud of dust in strong wind to capture the J.D. Byrider World of Outlaws preliminary feature Thursday night at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

After taking over the lead on Lap 13, Kinser fought off Shane Stewart to lock up the pole position in the dash Friday night in the World of Outlaws Sprint Series main event at the fast half-mile speedway. Stewart surged to the rear of Kinser's machine, but couldn't make a pass for the lead in the 25-lap, $5,000-to-win race. Despite a couple of late cautions, Stewart held on to finish second and earn an outside-front-row starting position in the dash.

Following Stewart and also earning spots in the dash were Donny Schatz, who won the season finale last November at Las Vegas, and Jac Haudenschild. Those top-four drivers won't have to go through qualifying or heats Friday night.

Early on, it appeared the only race was going to be for second after Sammy Swindell had dominated all night. He had won his heat and a dash to start on the pole and had the field covered by a full straightaway in the A-main before a mechanical problem cut short his race.

Swindell's misfortune changed the complexion of the feature. After a series of cautions and a red flag to refuel on Lap 5, Kinser and his crew decided to take a more conservative approach to the race to make certain he locked up a position in the Friday night dash. But once Swindell went out eight laps later, Kinser pushed hard for a victory and held off current rookie leader Stewart.

"We were just trying to survive out there," said Kinser, 20, who won the 2004 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award and is seeking his second feature victory with the Outlaws. "I tried to pass Sammy early in the race, really hustled it to try to get around him. After that red flag I realized I should try to conserve a little bit or we're not going to make it to the end of this thing. So I settled into second and something happened to Sammy and we just wound up with the lead. We just tried to run as many clean laps as we could. It was a little rough with all the dust and rocks getting kicked up on the bottom. We couldn't get good traction, but everybody was fighting it. We just stayed on the bottom because I knew nobody was going to get around on the top."

In fact, nearly the entire field wore out the low groove on the fast half-mile speedway. But one of the few drivers who dared to move up the track was Kinser's dad, Steve, a 19-time series champion. Steve Kinser made it work, too, as he charged high and low from 17th into a battle for second before contact on the final lap dropped him back to 16th.

That's when Stewart decided not to gamble and locked down second place in his Rudeen Racing powered by mIn Motorsports car.

"Top four is obviously where you want to be on the first night," said Stewart, 28, who also earned a spot in the dash last weekend at Manzanita Speedway before the feature was postponed by rain to Oct. 11. "Now I'm running second [in the dash]. I knew tires were going to be an issue, especially with all the restarts we had. As dusty as Turns 3 and 4 were, it was a two-part track. We had rubber in one corner and it was slick as ice in the other. Everybody did their part. My crew gave me a great car. The motor ran good. The Hoosier tires lasted 25 laps and I didn't mess up. It was just one of those tracks where it was survival of the fittest tonight."

With the winds hurling dust and most drivers staying low, it was going to be nearly impossible for anybody to get around Kraig Kinser so he simply plowed ahead, even if it wasn't always clear where he was going.

"We were kicking up dust from the infield and it was just blowing right back in front of us," he said. "I caught one lapped car in there and I couldn't see where I was going. I don't know how the guys in the back were racing.

"I knew if I didn't screw up on the bottom, he wasn't going to get around me. We were all sitting there trying to get [in position for] a win for tomorrow night, too. We were just trying to stay in the top four. I know [Stewart] would like to have the win, but I know he'd rather be locked in then going for the win and then wreck."

So given the conditions and knowing he was in a position for a front row spot Friday night, Stewart fell into line and followed Kinser across the finish line.

"It was really bad in Turns 3 and 4, it was just kind of hang on," Stewart said. "There were a couple of times I couldn't even see Kraig and he wasn't but two car-lengths in front of me.

"The thing is, I wasn't going to be able to pass him so I more or less backed off and prayed that we didn't get any cautions."

Finishing third ultimately could get Donny Schatz back on track. Schatz, who finished a career-best third in points last season, ended 2004 with a strong run and carried the momentum into the early part of 2005. By earning a spot in the dash, Schatz can afford to test his new engine setup during hot laps without having to worry about qualifying.

"This is a new engine combination for us," Schatz said. "It's similar to what we ran here last year here when we won. It's our new combination for the year. We got some different injectors on it and some other stuff and we really wanted to get locked in so it gives us a chance to test some stuff [Friday] night in hot laps and not have to get it qualified in the top two. We really needed that. We had been struggling in my eyes. We're trying to get the racecar right."

For finishing fifth, Paul McMahan still will have to go through qualifying Friday night, but after his best run of the season he believes his David Helm-owned team's luck might be changing.

"We were good tonight," McMahan said. "We caught some breaks. We had been having some bad luck, but finally some things went our way tonight. We missed it by one to be locked in for [Friday] but we made some changes in the racecar that helped so if the track's the same, we know what to do."

Of course, it won't be easy prying Kraig Kinser out of the lead after he got to celebrate Thursday night in Victory Lane.

"I could probably go for about 500 more of these," he said.

In qualifying action, Sammy Swindell clinched the pole for the A-main by rolling through the first dash while Kraig Kinser grabbed the outside front row position after holding off Stewart.

Joey Saldana started on the outside of the front row in the B-main and raced his way to victory as Daryn Pittman, Brian Paulus, Glenn Styres, Mark Kinser and Kevin Swindell also raced their way into the feature.

In heat races, Sammy Swindell came from fourth to win while Haudenschild and Randy Hannagan both won from front row starting positions.

Craig Dollansky continued his fast ways by setting quick time for the night at 13.809 seconds at a speed of 130.350 mph around the half-mile oval.

The $12,500-to-win conclusion of the J.D. Byrider World of Outlaws Nationals at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is Friday night. All the action from Las Vegas can be seen on The Outdoor Channel at 8 p.m. (Eastern) March 23 and March 30.

The World of Outlaws Sprint Series rolls March 18 to Pike County Speedway in Magnolia, Miss., and March 19 at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas before taking a weekend off.

-woo-

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Mark Kinser , Kevin Swindell , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Sammy Swindell , Craig Dollansky , Brian Paulus , Daryn Pittman , Joey Saldana , Kraig Kinser , Paul McMahan , Randy Hannagan , Shane Stewart