Walker Wins Cactus Classic Opener at Manzanita PHOENIX, AZ (February 20) - Tyler Walker, no stranger to success at Manzanita Speedway, held off Steve Kinser to win the Preliminary Feature then performed his signature back-flip victory...
Walker Wins Cactus Classic Opener at Manzanita
PHOENIX, AZ (February 20) - Tyler Walker, no stranger to success at Manzanita Speedway, held off Steve Kinser to win the Preliminary Feature then performed his signature back-flip victory celebration Friday when the World of Outlaws opened the Inaugural Cactus Classic.
Walker, who won both feature races in the 1998 Western World Championships at Manzanita, earned the privilege of starting Saturday's Dash Race on the pole by leading the final 24 laps of Friday's Preliminary Feature.
"Man, that was the longest race I ever ran," the 2002 World of Outlaws Gumout Series champion said. "It seemed like I was out there for two days. I have to thank Guy Forbrook for giving me the chance to drive his car and Stu Murray from Wirtgen - he makes this all possible. I'm out here having a blast.
"Goodyear tires really did their homework over the off-season. They gave us a great tire tonight. The Mopar engines, everything was great. I'll come back (to victory lane) tomorrow night and do some more back-flips for you."
Walker, the second-fastest qualifier in the 32-car field, earned the privilege of starting the Preliminary Feature on the pole by winning the First Dash Race. He raced wheel-to-wheel with outside pole-sitter Brian Brown, but spins by Third Heat Race winner Jeff Hodgson and Keith Watkins brought back the first two starts.
Brown drove Lonny Parsons' #6 Casey General Stores Maxim into the lead following the second caution period. Defending and 18-time champion Steve Kinser took the high line through the first and second corners to pass Tim Shaffer for third place early in opening lap.
Brown flipped in turn two the next time around, however, and Walker restarted in first place when the green flag replaced the red.
Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year candidate Kraig Kinser was battling Paul McMahan for fourth place within a lap after the race resumed when he spun into the retaining wall in turn three. Hodgson, Brian Paulus and Sammy Swindell collided with Kinser. Swindell, whose #83JR Ore-Cal J&J turned over in the crash, joined Kinser in the infield for the remainder of the race.
Randy Hannagan was trying to pass Dean Jacobs for sixth place early in the second lap when he hit the berm between the first and second corners and rolled the #1X TH Racing Hurricane.
Donny Schatz, who swept the 1999 Western World Championships feature races, steered his #15 Parker Stores J&J into the low groove in turn three to pass McMahan for fourth place as the race resumed.
Daryn Pittman lost 11th place late in the sixth lap when the #21 Hop & Sack CMC hit the wall in turn four. Fast qualifier Danny Lasoski, who passed seven cars during the first six laps, took the low line into the second corner to pass Jason Sides for ninth place as the green flag replaced the yellow.
Walker was a half-straightaway ahead of Steve Kinser when he entered lapped traffic midway through the race. "The King of the Outlaws" was only two car-lengths behind Walker four laps later when mechanical problems forced Joey Saldana to stop in turn two. Brian O'Donnell crashed into the wall and flipped in the second corner as the race resumed, bringing out the red flag. The driveline broke on Karavan Motorsports' #7 VMAC Maxim during the ensuing restart, sending the 2000 Gumout Series champion into the retaining wall in turn one.
Walker raced away from Kinser as the green flag replaced the red, and was 15 car-lengths ahead when he caught the back-markers with 1½ laps remaining. "The King of the Outlaws" was half a straightaway behind when Walker took the checkered flag.
Shaffer finished in third place, ahead of Schatz, McMahan, Jacobs, Lasoski, Jonathan Allard, Sides and 18th-starting Brian Paulus. Calvin Landis raced past nine cars to finish in 11th place.
"The Dude," who led the World of Outlaws with 28 fast times a year ago, paced the qualifying session with a 116.085-M.P.H. lap around Manzanita's legendary half-mile oval.