World of Outlaws Wrap-Up: Inaugural Ironman 55 at I-55 Raceway Concord, NC--August 10, 2009 What an event: The inaugural Ironman 55 received rave reviews from the drivers that competed in the two-day event at the always racy I-55 Raceway in ...
World of Outlaws Wrap-Up: Inaugural Ironman 55 at I-55 Raceway
Concord, NC--August 10, 2009
What an event: The inaugural Ironman 55 received rave reviews from the drivers that competed in the two-day event at the always racy I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Missouri. Friday's event saw a three-way battle with Craig Dollansky, Donny Schatz and Jason Sides going three-wide heading to the white flag lap with Dollansky coming out on top in what was one of the most thrilling races of the season, with Sides finishing second and Schatz third. In the 55-lap finale, it was Dollansky leading early and then his teammate Joey Saldana taking control to pocket the $20,000 top prize to lead a one-two sweep for Kasey Kahne Racing.
"This is a very important race," said Saldana. "Thanks to everyone for going through all of the hard work to make this event and the track preparation that's what made it a great race both nights. Thanks to the fans that stuck with us and made it happen."
Back on track: After winning 12 times in the first 34 races of the 2009 season, Joey Saldana went 14 races without a victory before returning to the winner's circle in the finale of the Ironman 55 to claim the $20,000 top prize which was the 52nd win of his World of Outlaws career, moving him to ninth on the all-time win list. He leads the series with 13 victories in 2009.
"At the beginning of July we felt pretty good and like we could run with everyone," noted Saldana. "The second half of July was a disaster for us. To start off August with a win is huge and definitely gives you confidence."
From coast-to-coast and across the pond: Fans from 21 states and three countries purchased advance tickets for the inaugural Ironman 55 at I-55 Raceway, with fans from a number of other states in attendance as well. Fans from Washington to New York and North Dakota to Louisiana were on hand for the inaugural event. Also represented was Australia and Canada among the throng of fans that were present for the historic event.
His race: Dean Brandt, who won the contest to name the Ironman 55 was on hand for both nights of the inaugural event. Brandt, originally from Minot, North Dakota where three-time and defending World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz was born and raised, waved the green flag during the four abreast parade lap. Brandt also got to ride in Work'N Woody the Official Push Truck and Safety vehicle of the World of Outlaws along with second generation pusher Eric Malies, who owns and operates the iconic machine. Brandt sent in an early entry for the contest and it continued to hold throughout the contest with hundreds of entries pouring in from coast to coast as well as Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
"That was the perfect name for the race," said driver Jason Meyers, a former winner at I-55 Raceway.
A championship field: The inaugural Ironman 55 which was co-sanctioned by the All Star Circuit of Champions had 42 cars signed in for the opener and 40 for the finale. Of the drivers present, 27 World of Outlaws championships were accounted for, six All Star Circuit of Champions titles, one Midwest All Star championship, three Midwest Sprint Car Series (Non-wing) championships, 13 Williams Grove Speedway track championships, 11 Lincoln Speedway track championships, eight Knoxville Raceway track championships, five Port Royal Speedway track championships, five Susquhanna Speedway track championships, three Selinsgrove Speedway track championships, and one Lernerville Speedway track championship among others.
Team first: Craig Dollansky and his team welcomed veteran crew chief Bonzai Bruns to their camp on the opening night of the Ironman 55 at I-55 Raceway. Justin Adams, the Team Manager at Kasey Kahne Racing has been serving as Dollansky's interim crew chief for the last couple of weeks, with the team picking up their first win of the season at Lebanon Valley Speedway in New York on July 26, followed by a victory in the opener of the Ironman 55, Dollansky has finished seventh or better in five consecutive races dating back to his first win of the year.
"Justin (Adams) and Bonzai (Bruns) are doing a great job," shared Dollansky after last Friday night's win. "Tonight was Bonzai's first night and I am really enjoying working with both of them. This program keeps getting stronger as we go. I'm happy for Kasey Kahne Racing and everyone that has stands behind this team. We know we are capable of winning races and just need to get our entire program strong. Justin (Adams) has done a great job coming over here and working on things. Bonzai (Bruns) now has come in and Rob (Beattie) and Lester (Groves) always work hard. It's always a total team effort. We have a great car owner in Kasey Kahne and he always stands behind us. He is behind us 100 percent with what we need to do out here to get the job done. I'm happy for the whole race team."
First time visitor: Fred Rahmer, who was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame back in May made his first career visit to I-55 Raceway for the Ironman 55. The multi-time Williams Grove Speedway and Lincoln Speedway track champion raced his way into the Crane Cams Dash in the finale to earn a Top-10 starting spot in the 55-lap contest.
"This is a really neat track," said Rahmer. "It's very racy and things happen so quick you always have to be on your toes. It's definitely a one of a kind and a great place for the fans to see a race."
Original Outlaws: Five of the original "Outlaws" from the inaugural 1978 World of Outlaws season were on-hand for the Ironman 55. Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell and Danny Smith all competed, with Rick Ferkel there as a car owner for Brandon Wimmer, while Shane Carson helped with numerous tasks to help the event roll off without a hitch and even climbed behind the wheel of the pace car to pace the field both nights.
"It's pretty neat to be part of this race," said Danny Smith. "For us guys that race full-time we need more high paying special events like this. I'm glad to be here."
Hearing from all 24 starters: Fans at the Ironman 55 had a chance to hear from all 24 of the starters in the race with a special driver introduction ceremony that saw the front half of the field paraded down the front straightaway grandstands for an interview, while the back half of the field did the same along the back straightaway bleachers giving fans a chance to see them up close and for the young fans to slap hands with their favorite drivers as they walked by.
It's been a while: Stevie Smith, who set the track record of 10.189 seconds at I-55 Raceway in time trials back in 2002 returned to the high-banked bullring for the first time since that event this past weekend. The Oklahoma native charged from 19th to finish sixth in the finale as he continues a very strong 2009 campaign that saw him win earlier in the "Month of Money" with the World of Outlaws during the second Twin-30 of the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway in Pennsylvania last month.
"I always enjoy coming to I-55," said Smith. "It has been a few years for sure, but I remember the place very well. The racing here is always great and I really miss coming to a lot of the tracks back here in the Midwest that I raced at a lot when I was on the tour. This is a great event and I'm happy to get the chance to participate in it."
Photo Gallery: The Media Gallery section of www.WorldofOutlaws.com continues to be updated after each event. Visit http://www.worldofoutlaws.com/sprint/MediaGallery.aspx to see Photo Galleries from 2009 World of Outlaws events. Photo Galleries from both nights of the Ironman 55 at I-55 Raceway will be posted very soon.
Keep up with all the action: The number of "Followers" keeping up with the World of Outlaws via Twitter online and through text messages on cell phones continues to grow and recently surpassed the 1,200 "Follower" mark. Updates are provided throughout race nights beginning with hot laps and continuing all the way through the final checkered flag of the night. To sign-up visit: http://twitter.com/worldofoutlaws and receive live race updates, anywhere, anytime.
Up next: The World of Outlaws return to action on Wednesday, August 19 with their first ever visit to Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minnesota, which will kick off the 2009 Gold Rush Tour.