Hillenburg Comes Back to Win at Paducah By Richard Day PADUCAH, KY (June 12) -- Race car drivers' memories rival those of elephants. Unfortunate experiences at race tracks stick with them forever. Andy Hillenburg still remembers April 17,...
Hillenburg Comes Back to Win at Paducah
By Richard Day
PADUCAH, KY (June 12) -- Race car drivers' memories rival those of elephants. Unfortunate experiences at race tracks stick with them forever.
Andy Hillenburg still remembers April 17, 1998, at Paducah International Raceway like it was yesterday. Each time Hillenburg passed Jeff Swindell for the lead, the yellow flag fell and cost him the victory. After beating Hillenburg across the finish line, Swindell admitted the cautions "probably won the race" for him.
The Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' 1988 Rookie of the Year wasn't about to let history repeat itself Tuesday when the series returned to Paducah's high-banked, 3/8-mile oval. He burst into the lead from the outside pole and exchanged first place with Paul McMahan four times before claiming the $10,000 first prize.
"This place owed me one," Hillenburg said. "I passed Jeff (Swindell) for the lead a couple of times the last time we were here, but the caution flag kept coming out.
"I have to thank Luxaire, Hoosier Tires, J&J Chassis and John Christner Trucking for giving me what it takes to get the job done. Most of all, I want to thank 'Diesel' (Keith Carlson) and Shane (Stewart) for working their butts off and getting us up and down the road. I don't know when those guys sleep."
Hillenburg is only the third driver to set quick-time and win the "A" Feature in the same Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series event this season. His third victory of the year pushed him to within five points of fourth-place Craig Dollansky in the point standings.
Hillenburg, who paced the qualifying session with 98.843-m.p.h. lap, was right behind Joey Saldana in both the First O'Reilly Heat Race and the CHANNELLOCK Dash. He burst into the lead from outside the front row as the green flag fell in the 30-lap main event, only to have Kasey Kahne spin in turn three late in the opening lap.
After racing wheel-to-wheel down the front straightaway with Saldana as the race resumed, Hillenburg drove his #2 Luxaire J&J high in the second corner to take the lead again.
McMahan, who earned the right to start the "A" Feature inside the second row by racing past six sprinters in the CHANNELLOCK Dash, passed Second O'Reilly Heat Race winner Johnny Herrera for third place with an inside move in turn one the next time around.
McMahan was challenging Saldana for second during the seventh lap when Hillenburg entered lapped traffic a full straightaway ahead of them. McMahan drove Warren Johnson's #U2 United Expressline Eagle to the lowest point in the second corner to pass Saldana two laps later.
Defending and 16-time Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series champion Steve Kinser was battling Stevie Smith for fourth place early in the 10th lap when Smith's #19 Ingersoll-Rand Maxim bumped the wall in turn two. Smith recovered quickly, but not before Kinser and Danny Lasoski raced past.
"The King of the Outlaws" steered his #11 Quaker State Maxim deep in the second corner to pass Saldana for third place three laps later.
McMahan, who was three car-lengths behind Hillenburg when they caught the back-markers during the 14th lap, took the lead with an inside move in the fourth corner five laps later.
Hillenburg rode the rim around McMahan in turn four to regain first place late in lap 21. McMahan passed Hillenburg in the low groove between the third and fourth corners one lap later, just seconds before Dollansky stopped on the back stretch with a flat right rear tire.
Hillenburg kept pace with McMahan as the green flag replaced the yellow and took the lead high in turn two early in the 23rd lap. He was 10 car-lengths ahead when entered lapped traffic with 1 1/2 laps remaining, and took the checkered flag with eight car-lengths to spare.
"We've gotten a little better here lately." Hillenburg said. "It seemed like we were pretty fast the first part of the year, then we just lost something about 12 races into the season. Maybe we can get a few more wins before this one's over."
Kinser used a slide move in the fourth corner to pass McMahan for the runner-up spot as they headed for the checkered flag. Lasoski closed to within eight points of Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Mark Kinser by racing into fourth place from inside the sixth row. Brad Furr finished fifth, ahead of Kelly Kinser, Mark Kinser, Saldana, 17th-starting Danny Wood and Herrera.