World of Outlaws Wrap-up: Gold Rush Tour through the Pacific Northwest Number crunching down the stretch: Just 13 races remain for World of Outlaws this season, with Joey Saldana holding a slim six-point advantage over 20-time series champion ...
World of Outlaws Wrap-up: Gold Rush Tour through the Pacific Northwest
Number crunching down the stretch: Just 13 races remain for World of Outlaws this season, with Joey Saldana holding a slim six-point advantage over 20-time series champion Steve Kinser in the championship standings, with Jason Meyers third, only 25 markers out of the top spot, in what is shaping up to be the closest three-way battles in series history. At the same point last season, the gap between the Top-Three was 65 points, with 29 markers between first and second, which at the time was the closest-ever three-way battle in series history. The point lead has changed hands seven times this season, with the spread being in single digits 17 times over the course of the 56 races that have been contested through September 4.
Adding another track to an already impressive list: Steve Kinser scored his first A-Feature win at Skagit Speedway last Saturday night. The 20-time World of Outlaws champion had previously picked up a preliminary feature triumph at the track in 2005. Kinser has now won an A-Feature event with the World of Outlaws at 138 tracks in his amazing career dating back to the series inaugural 1978 seasons. His win at Skagit was the 560th of career with the World of Outlaws.
A trio in the Top-Five: All three Kasey Kahne Racing machines finished in the Top-Five on Saturday night in the finale at Skagit Speedway in Washington, which is one of Kahne's home tracks. Joey Saldana led the way with a runner-up finish after leading 23 laps in the main event, with Paul McMahan third and Brad Sweet fourth. It marked the second time this season that all three had finished in the Top-Five in the same race with the World of Outlaws, as they also accomplished the feat at Volunteer Speedway in Tennessee back in March in the opener of the Showdown for the Bud Crown.
"It was a great night for the entire Kasey Kahne Racing team," said McMahan. "I wish one of us could have gotten the win, but all in all to put three cars in the Top-Four is pretty impressive. Everyone on the team works so hard and it's great to reward them with strong finishes, especially here at Skagit in Kasey's neck of the woods."
Continuing a strong Gold Rush Tour: Jac Haudenschild was victorious last Friday night at Skagit Speedway and came all the way from the 19th starting spot to finish seventh in the finale to earn the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Award. He has finished in the Top-10 in six of the first seven races of the Gold Rush Tour after returning to World of Outlaws action at Nodak Speedway on August 20, after missing a couple of weeks due to a broken hand.
"The R19 car has been pretty fast and running good here lately," said Haudenschild. "Leonard (Lee) and the crew are working hard and doing a great job. It was good to get a win at Skagit."
From one Steve to another: Steve Beitler, the owner of Skagit Speedway, who toured with the World of Outlaws in the late 1980's and early 1990's, presented Steve Kinser with the $20,000 winner's check on the podium at the high-banked bullring following his win last Saturday night. Beitler finished in the Top-10 in the World of Outlaws standings in 1990, again in 1991 and also in 1993.
"It means a lot to me to be able to present the greatest sprint car driver ever a check for $20,000," said Beitler to Kinser. "I got to race against you for a number of years and it's a great honor to have you win up here."
Looking forward to the longer distance Donny Schatz again made a charge late in the race in the opener at Skagit Speedway last Friday night to come home in the third spot to score his fifth straight podium finish at the time and 11th consecutive Top-10 after lining up ninth. The four-time and defending champion and his crew traditionally come on strong late in the race and he enjoys the longer distance races.
"Tomorrow night is 40 laps and that's like starting a 10-lap race," said Schatz last Friday night. "You'll have worn out tires and cars that have no fuel left. The dynamic of it changes so much and I am looking forward to that."
Reading the track: Jason Sides also made a late charge in the opener at Skagit to come home second to earn his 14th straight Top-10 finish, after his car really came on late in the going. He fell back early in the race from his fourth starting spot to seventh and snagged the runner-up spot from Tim Kaeding coming off turn four on the last lap. Sides will tie his career high of 24 Top-Five finishes with his next Top-Five, a mark he set last season when he finished a career-best fifth in points.
"The track suited us pretty well tonight," said Sides last Friday night at Skagit. "We'll see what it's like tomorrow, it could be a completely different track. Tonight everything worked out pretty well for us. We'll just have to wait until tomorrow to see what the track does and what we need to do to the car."
Passing some cars: Sam Hafertepe Jr. came from the 17th starting spot to finish 10th in the open at Skagit Speedway, after winning The Last Chance Showdown to race his way into the 30-lap main event. For the native of Sunnyvale, Texas it was his third Top-10 finishes in the last four races of the Gold Rush Tour, including a podium finish at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton on August 28 in which he led a number of laps as he continues to chase his first career World of Outlaws win.
"We got a little behind after time trials and played catch up all night, but never gave up," said Hafertepe. "My guys did a great job and the car was a lot better in the feature. I'm looking forward to coming back on Saturday night."
Strong local contingent: A number of drivers that compete weekly at Skagit Speedway turned in some very strong qualifying efforts in the opener at the high-banked bullring last Friday night. Jayme Barnes was third with Travis Jacobson fifth and Jason Solwold sixth. Barnes was running at the front of the dash when engine problems ended his night. Solwold, who won against the World of Outlaws at Skagit in 2008, wound up finishing sixth in the feature last Friday night to score the best finish of the local contingent.
Another fast time: Jason Meyers earned his ninth fast time honor of the season at Cottage Grove Speedway on September 1, tying him with Paul McMahan for the series lead in that department. Of the drivers battling for the World of Outlaws title, Meyers has earned the most qualifying bonus points, with points going each night to the Top-Five drivers in time trials. The California native has also earned the most qualifying bonus points of any driver on the circuit this year, as he is one markers ahead of Paul McMahan in that department, having earned qualifying bonus points in 24 races this season. Meyers has set fast time in five of the last 10 World of Outlaws events.
Charging hard: For the second consecutive year at Cottage Grove Speedway, Donny Schatz made a charge from the back of the field to finish on the podium. He lined up 15th last Wednesday night at the ¼-mile bullring and restarted at the rear of the field following an early caution, at which time he got caught up in an incident. The four-time and defending series champion blasted through the field to finish second en route to earning his series leading sixth KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Award of the season. Last year at Cottage Grove, he came all the way from 20th to finish third.
"I just put myself in a beehive there, I don't know what happened," said Schatz at Cottage Grove. "We've had to do that here before and it's a fun little place to race. When you come from the back like that you hope for 50 laps, and it is really fun when it gets like this."
Making some history: Trey Starks from Puyallup, Washington made some history at Cottage Grove Speedway, becoming the youngest driver ever to qualify for a World of Outlaws A-Feature event at the age of 14. He raced his way into the main event through The Last Chance Showdown. Mechanical problems ended his night early, as he came home 22nd in the 25-car field.
California connection: Four drivers that hail from the state of California finished among the Top-10 at Cottage Grove Speedway on September 1, easily the most of any state represented in the field with Jason Meyers leading the way in sixth. Paul McMahan came home seventh, with Brad Sweet ninth and Jonathan Allard in 10 th. Indiana had two drivers in the Top-10 as did Tennessee.
Up next: The 2010 Gold Rush Tour wraps up with the 57th Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California, September 9-11 with $50,000 awaiting the winner on Saturday night.