World of Outlaws Preview: I-96 Speedway Lake Odessa, MI--May 28, 2009--With the first East Coast swing of the season now in the books, the World of Outlaws return to the Midwest for a busy stretch of races as the schedule really begins to pick...
World of Outlaws Preview: I-96 Speedway
Lake Odessa, MI--May 28, 2009--With the first East Coast swing of the season now in the books, the World of Outlaws return to the Midwest for a busy stretch of races as the schedule really begins to pick up with the heat of the summer just around the corner. The series makes its annual stop in the state of Michigan this weekend for a full night of racing at I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa on Saturday, May 30 with $10,000 waiting for the winner.
The World of Outlaws first competed at I-96 Speedway in 1995, with Joey Saldana scoring his first career World of Outlaws A-Feature win in that race. Steve Kinser is the defending winner at the half-mile and had four career victories at the track to lead all drivers. He nearly had a perfect night at the track last season, setting a new track record in time trials, finishing second in a heat race, winning the dash and leading all but one lap of the main event. The Indiana native has won four of the last six visits the series has made to I-96.
The World of Outlaws have competed a total of eight times at I-96 Speedway, with five drivers having scored wins in those events. In addition to Kinser and Saldana, Craig Dollansky, three-time series champion Sammy Swindell and Stevie Smith have all won with the series at the half-mile.
Entering this weekend's pair of events, three-time and defending series champion Donny Schatz leads Kinser by 53 points in the championship standings, with Saldana just 10 markers behind Kinser. Jason Meyers is fourth in points, with Dollansky rounding out the Top-Five.
Slidejobs- I-96 Speedway:
Always up front in Michigan: Steve Kinser has made 25 career starts in the state of Michigan and has finished in the Top-10 in all but one of those events, with 20 of the finishes being Top-Fives, including 12 wins. The 20-time series champion has visited Victory Lane four times at I-96 Speedway to lead the series. Kinser is currently second in the series championship standings on the strength of a series-best 18 Top-10 finishes with 12 of those being Top-Fives.
Looking to add another track to the list: Donny Schatz, the three-time and defending series champion, has never won a race at I-96 Speedway. He finished second at the half-mile last season and has already won six times this season on tracks that size as he chases his fourth consecutive title. The North Dakota native leads the series standings and has 12 Top-Five finishes this season. Schatz heads to I-96 Speedway fresh off a win on Memorial Day in New York.
"Any time you go to a place where you haven't won, there's motivation," he shared. "That's why we race, to win. The conditions are never exactly the same at particular place, so the challenge is always there to figure out a way to be the best when it matters. Wins motivate everyone, and that's why winning the way we did last Monday keeps everyone at Tony Stewart Racing striving for more. We want to try and go back out there and do it again and again. This a great time of the year and we want to take full advantage of the opportunities we have."
One to remember: Joey Saldana scored the first win of his World of Outlaws career at I-96 Speedway in 1995. He has won a couple of times in his career at the track and has a total of nine wins over the years in the state of Michigan. The second generation driver was victorious twice last weekend to bring his series leading total to seven this year. He is currently third in points as he chases his first career World of Outlaws title.
Closing in on a win: Jason Meyers, who is currently fourth, in the World of Outlaws standings, has finished seventh of better in all four of his career starts at I-96 Speedway. The California native has won twice this season and has racked up 14 Top-10 finishes in the first 21 events of the year. He has finished third in each of the last two seasons at I-96 Speedway.
A past winner: Craig Dollansky won at I-96 Speedway in 2007 and has three career wins in the state of Michigan. In his first season driving for Kasey Kahne Racing, the native of Elk River, Minnesota is currently fifth in points on the strength of 13 Top-10 finishes. In his career at I-96 Speedway, Dollansky has five Top-10 finishes.
A couple of starts: Jason Sides made his debut at I-96 Speedway in 2004 and picked up a Top-10 finish. The 2003 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year has 14 Top-10 finishes this season and is just 10 markers out of the fifth spot in the championship standings as he continues his strong start to the 2009 campaign.
Looking for redemption: Danny Lasoski led the first 15 laps at I-96 Speedway in his last visit to the track in 2007 before finishing second to Craig Dollansky. The 2001 series champion looks for his second career win at the half-mile this weekend. He won in his debut at the track in 1996. The native of Dover, Missouri won his first race of the season a couple weeks ago on a half-mile in Delaware. He is currently seventh in points on the strength of 12 Top-10 finishes, with nine of those being Top-Five performances.
Knowing the way to Victory Lane: Jac Haudenschild won at I-96 Speedway back in 1990 with the All Star Circuit of Champions. He has finished in the Top-10 in each of the last two seasons the World of Outlaws have visited the track. The veteran driver will be inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa on Saturday night as well while racing at I-96 Speedway. He is currently eighth in the World of Outlaws standings this season with seven Top-10 finishes.
Building momentum: Kraig Kinser has made a handful of starts at I-96 Speedway and has finished in the Top-10 in each of his last two visits to the track. He finished seventh on Memorial Day in New York on a half-mile to pick up his eighth Top-10 finish of the season. He is currently ninth in points as he continues his second season driving for Tony Stewart Racing.
"Of course, going from a short track to a bigger track, your approach is slightly different," shared the 2004 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year. "Take this weekend, for example. In the past, Attica has been known to end up pretty slick, so maybe we can use some of the things we learned in New York. (Canadaigua) was probably as slick as we've had this year, and we were able to drive forward. I've only been to I-96 a few times, and it's like a lot of the big tracks, where you have be able to get your speed up and keep the momentum."
First timer: Lucas Wolfe, the reigning Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year, will make his first career start at I-96 Speedway this weekend. He missed the event at the track last year as he was recovering from an injury that sidelined him for a couple of months. He picked up his third Top-Five finish of the season last weekend and has been fast on the half-miles in 2009. He is currently 10th in points.
Third year in a row: Sam Hafertepe Jr. will visit I-96 Speedway for the third consecutive year with the World of Outlaws. The native of Sunnyvale, Texas picked up a career-best second-place finish last weekend on a half-mile in Virginia and has been running strong the last couple of weeks.
"The way our year has been going, we hadn't even finished in the Top-10, so to finish second was great," said Hafertepe last weekend. "We have been down on ourselves all year and things haven't been going our way. Finishing second shows that we still can run up front."
It's been a while: Brian Ellenberger, who is a contender for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award this season has competed four times in his career at I-96 Speedway with the most recent of those coming in 2000, when he finished fifth at the track. He continues to gain priceless experience this season in his first full season on the road with the World of Outlaws
By the Numbers: I-96 Speedway:
0.5- Miles around I-96 Speedway
1- Race this season for the World of Outlaws in the state of Michigan
3- Track records established in time trials this season with the World of Outlaws
4- Career wins for Steve Kinser at the track to lead all drivers
5- Drivers that have won an A-Feature at the track with the series
- Drivers that have won on half-miles this season with the series
6- Wins for Donny Schatz on half-miles this season to lead the series
8- A-Feature events contested by the World of Outlaws at the track dating back to 1995
9- Drivers competing full-time with the World of Outlaws this season that competed at I-96 Speedway last season
10- Drivers that have been quickest in time trials this season
12- Events contested on half-miles for the World of Outlaws through May 25
15.093- Track record established by Steve Kinser last season
16- Drivers that have won the Crane Cams Dash this season to earn pole positions
20- Drivers that have led laps in A-Feature events
21- A-Feature events contested by the World of Outlaws this season through May 25
25- Events run in Michigan by the World of Outlaws dating back to 1980
119.261- Track record in miles per hour
225- Miles from Attica Raceway Park in Ohio where the World of Outlaws compete on Friday, May 29 to I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Michigan
1995- Year the World of Outlaws first competed at I-96 Speedway
10,000- Dollars the winner will receive on Saturday, May 30
51,690- Dollars in the total purse on Saturday, May 30
97,350- Dollars earned by Donny Schatz this season to lead the series
Tickets: On Saturday, May 30 at I-96 Speedway, general admission tickets for adults will be $30 if purchased in advance and $32 the day of the race, with general admission tickets for those ages 6-12 just $15 and kids five-under will be admitted free of charge. Adult reserved tickets will also be available for $32 in advance and $34 the day of the race, with reserved tickets for those ages 12-under $15. Pit combos will also be available for $38 if purchased in advance and include a reserved seat and a pit pass. For tickets call SLS Promotions at 815-344-2023 or call the track at 616-642-0555.