LAS VEGAS, NV (November 4) -- While the September 11th terrorist attacks caused the United States to undergo a seemingly infinite number of changes, they solidified the country in a way unforeseen in its history. The Pennzoil World of Outlaws ...
LAS VEGAS, NV (November 4) -- While the September 11th terrorist attacks caused the United States to undergo a seemingly infinite number of changes, they solidified the country in a way unforeseen in its history.
The Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series was affected in similar ways. The series canceled two races and honored its most outstanding drivers and car owners with a champagne brunch at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino. Many in attendance said they enjoyed the informal mid-day celebration as much as recent awards banquets.
"We regret we didn't have a big banquet like we normally do, but with all that's taken place we felt like this was the best way to go," Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series President Ted Johnson said. "I just talked to Stacy (series Vice President Stacy Johnson) on the phone. She apologized for not having a big banquet, but next year we'll have a big one again.
"I feel like we're cheating Danny (Lasoski, the series champion) a little bit, but with all the decorations he never could see the stage before.
"This has been a super year. The World of Outlaws got stronger and we're going to be stronger next year. We got this track out here (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) figured out. We worked hard on this track; we put in a lot of hours.
"I saw the best piece of defensive driving I ever saw last night. Danny was so slow, the drivers behind him on the re-starts had to ride their brakes.
"We have some people here who raced awfully hard. The reason the drivers are able to race hard is because of the guys who work on the cars. I'd like a nice hand for all the guys who worked hard on the race cars. They deserve a big hand.
"Contrary to rumors, I'm still going to be here. We're not selling the series. Carlton Reimers, our director of administration, is here. We'll be back for an even better year next year.
"I know you all get nervous when I say 'schedule,' but I like it the way it is right now. I've made it a little better than it was last year. I gave you a little time off when we went out west, although some promoters are trying to fill that in now. You have a chance to fly home and see your families. Sometimes the wives like that, but sometimes they don't.
"You all are a great bunch of people. I enjoy seeing the racers, the crew chiefs, the owners, the sponsors and all the others in the pits, I enjoy you yelling at me every now and then and I enjoy yelling back at you. I enjoy working with each and every one of you; I love it. God willing, we' ll keep doing this for many years to come."
Reimers recognized the series' major sponsors -- Pennzoil, Goodyear, Channellock Tools, O'Reilly Auto Parts, Featherlite Trailers, Freightliner Trucks, Luxaire, Hoosier and Dodge/Mopar.
"We can't do without our sponsors," Reimers said. "We really appreciate those companies working with us and helping us with this great endeavor.
"One of the most prestigious awards we give every year is the Rookie of the Year. That's the award that stays with a guy through the rest of his career. No matter how old he gets or where he goes and races, he'll always be known as a Rookie of the Year for the World of Outlaws. Of course, the Rookie of the Year carries the late Kevin Gobrecht's name. It's awarded in honor of him. We had three drivers battling for that award this year -- Jason Meyers finished third, Brad Furr was second and Jeff Shepard was the winner."
"I have to thank all the sponsors of the Rookie of the Year award," Shepard said. "The Kevin Gobrecht award is really special. I'm honored to accept it.
"I have to thank Wirtgen, Maxim and Goodyear for giving me the opportunity to race. It was a good battle. It was really tough, but it worked out in our favor. I'm really thankful to get it and I hope I get to see you next year."
Reimers presented Jimmy Carr, crew chief for Tony Stewart's #20L J.D. Byrider Eagle, with the Channellock Mechanic of the Year award.
"We have so much respect for you guys," Reimers said. "I don't know how you do it. It takes such a tremendous amount of energy, effort time and expertise. It's a shame we can only give one award each year for that."
Carr, the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series Rookie of the Year in 1991, gave a short, emotional acceptance speech.
"I'm not very good at this, but I want to thank Channellock for sponsoring this award."
Reimers presented the Channellock Dash award to Steve Kinser.
"The other award Channellock sponsors goes to the winner of the most Channellock Dashes," Reimers said. "Winning those dashes is important because it puts the driver on the pole of that night's feature race. This year, Steve Kinser won the most -- 11."
Mark Bracken of Ratbag, the series' official computer game manufacturer, presented Lasoski with the Ratbag Cup.
"Firstly, I would like to thank the World of Outlaws, TNN (The National Network), the drivers and teams for their participation in this year's Ratbag Cup," Bracken said. "This year, we had $100,000 in prize money. It was very tight racing on TV. This year's winner is Danny Lasoski."
Lasoski thanked Bracken and Ratbag for the award and the $25,000 check he received.
"This is a great honor," Lasoski said. "I know the point standings bounced around a bunch this year and I'm proud to win this."
Reimers then presented point fund checks to the top 16 drivers and top 16 car owners.
"We're giving away right at $1 million today," he said. "I always say 'giving away,' but those aren't the right words. It's not given, this money is earned. You all worked hard to earn this money. The point fund is growing each year and it makes us happy to pay this money to the deserving recipients.
"We normally just pay the top 15, but we figure when a guy gets hurt, has to go home and doesn't get to do what he loves to do and he comes all the way out to Las Vegas to attend the banquet and finished in 16th place, we should invite him up here on the stage."
Reimers invited Randy Hannagan, who has walked with the aid of crutches since suffering a broken leg in a crash at Calistoga Speedway September 2nd, to the stage.
"It was a tough year for everybody," Hannagan said. "I'd like to congratulate Danny Lasoski and Tony Stewart Motorsports. They did a good job. That's what we all shoot for, that's why we're all here. I'd like to thank all my sponsors, K&C Drywall and my brother, Terry. Without them, I wouldn't be here. At the beginning of the year -- the first night out at Hanford -- we blew a motor and I said to myself, 'if we have 105 more nights of this, it'll be a long year.' On September 2nd, it became longer. But I'm going to heal and we're going to be back next year and we'll be back stronger. We're going to give it a shot; maybe can get up there and run with Danny Lasoski, Mark Kinser and Steve. These guys are tough, and a lot of people don't realize how tough the World of Outlaws really is. It's a great series, this is what I've always dreamed about doing and I'm going to do it and I'll do it again and again and again for as long as I can. We'll see you up here next year, hopefully without these crutches."
Driver Dale Blaney and his brother and car owner, Dave, received checks totaling $15,000 for finishing 15th in the standings.
"I'm not going to get choked up here about 15th in points," Dale said. "I have some people to thank -- MBNA, U.S. Print and Mopar. They helped us get through the year. It wasn't the best year, but we'll be back out here again next year."
Jason Meyers finished 14h in the driver standings, while his car owner, Craig Cormack (DOCC Motorsports), ranked 14th in owner points and split $16,000.
"I'd like to thank Craig and Linda Cormack for the opportunity they gave me this year," Meyers said. "Racing with this series is something I've always wanted to do and something I hope I can continue to do. It's not often you can find a car owner who will give a young driver a chance. I tore up a lot of stuff and I apologize for that. But all in all, we had a good year and we're really happy to get our first win. I have to thank all the guys who worked on the car; they gave me a good car every night."
Danny Wood and his car owner, Donnie Woodburn, finished 13th in the standings and each received checks for $8,500.
"First of all, I'd like to thank the World of Outlaws and Ted Johnson for making all this possible for us," Wood said. "This is the neatest thing in the world to do. I also want to thank Donnie and Sherry Woodburn for allowing me to be out here. Without them, it wouldn't be possible. Thanks to my crew -- Rob (Hart) and Cathy (Barrows) -- they made me look really good. I wish we could have been more consistent like we were at the end of the year. I hope we can be back next year and we can do it all year long that way."
Driver Brad Furr and his father, Randy, accepted checks totaling $20,000 for ranking 12th in the standings.
"I really want to thank my mom and dad for giving me good equipment," Brad said. "I also have to thank my crew for helping me roll around the track. I also have to thank Lori, my girlfriend, for helping me stay organized."
Paul McMahan and his car owner, Warren Johnson, ranked 11th in the standings and received checks for $12,500.
"I want to thank Ted (Johnson), the World of Outlaws, Pennzoil, Warren Johnson and 'Coolie' (Mike Cool) and Dave (Sharman)," McMahan said. "I also want to thank Eagle Chassis and Hoosier Tires. Goodyear Tires got me my first win this year. I can't say enough for United Expressline (the team's major sponsor). I hope to be back next year."
Shepard received a check for $20,000 for finishing in the driver standings, while his car owner, Guy Forbrook, ranked ninth in owner points and received $21,000.
"I want to thank everybody again for their support," Shepard said. "I especially wanted to thank Guy Forbrook for giving me the opportunity. I didn't even know I had a ride until Christmas Day. I hope to be back next year."
Stevie Smith received checks totaling $43,500 for finishing ninth in the driver standings and eighth in owner points.
"I'd like to thank Ted Johnson and the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series," Smith said. "This wasn't one of our best years. We'll just have to work a little harder at it and get better. I want to thank Ingersoll-Rand, Bobcat, RPM Engine Development, Maxim Chassis, Sander Engineering and Goodyear Tires."
Tim Shaffer accepted $22,500 for finishing eighth in driver points, while his car owner, David Helm, received a $25,000 check for ranking seventh in the owner standings.
"I'd like to thank Dave (Helm) and Sonny (Kratzer) and Vivarin," Shaffer said. "We had a pretty good last three years, but this year was really good for us.
"For 2002, I'm going to make a change. I'm going to drive for Teresa and Dennis Roth in the #83 car."
Joey Saldana received a check for $25,000 for ranking seventh in driver points, while his car owner, Roth, accepted $20,000 for finishing 10th in the owner standings.
"First of all, I want to congratulate Danny (Lasoski); he did a tremendous job," Saldana said. "I want to thank HEM Saw; they got me going at the beginning of the season. They came with me when I started driving for Dennis Roth and I really appreciate them sponsoring me. Thanks to Dennis for giving me the opportunity to drive his car. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here right now."
Andy Hillenburg received two $27,500 checks for ranking sixth in both the driver and owner standings.
"I want to thank all the sponsors who contributed to the point fund," Hillenburg said. "Thanks to my wife and family and thanks to all my sponsors who kept me out on the road."
Donny Schatz and his father and car owner, Danny Schatz finished fifth in the standings and received checks for $30,000.
"I want to thank my mom and dad for all they've done for me," Donny said. "I want to thank Kenny and Annie Woodruff, Parker Stores, Featherlite, Goodyear and Jack Elam of J&J."
Craig Dollansky and car owner Karavan Racing finished in fourth place in the standings and received checks for $32,500.
"First of all, I'd like to congratulate Danny (Lasoski) and his crew," Dollansky said. "They did a great job. It was a hard-fought battle. I want to thank Ted Johnson and the entire Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series crew. They all work hard and I can't thank them enough.
"I'd like to thank my car owner, Scott Boyd (of Karavan Racing). Some people think he's my brother when we walk around the pits, but we've just become best friends. I do have my little brother, Troy, out here working with me now; he's a great addition to the team. Todd Splain, Scott Boudra and Scott Benic did a great job. Dick Johanic of Polydome has been like a father to me; he got me to where I am. I have a lot of great people around me to keep me here.
"I want to thank my wife, Julie, for keeping me in line and putting up with me when I had bad nights. I also have to thank my three kids - Lucas, Garrett and Payton. I had a lot of fun with them when they were out on the road with me.
Steve Kinser received two $35,000 checks for his third-place finishes in the driver and owner standings.
"First of all, I want to thank the guys on my crew for the job they did all year," Kinser said. "I'm going to take them to Australia with me to practice before next year.
"I want to thank Pennzoil/Quaker State for sponsoring our race car. They 'll be back with us again next year. Hoosier Tire, Maxim Chassis, Sander Engineering and Franklin Power Products have been great sponsors, too."
Reimers congratulated Mark Kinser and Lasoski for taking the closest points battle in series history down to the final race.
Mark, who finished only 30 points behind "The Dude," each received a $50,000 check, as did his father, Karl, who has won 17 car owner championships.
"I want to congratulate Danny Lasoski and his team as our new champions," Mark said. "I want to thank Phil Durst and Ray Williams, who have been with me for many years. I also have to thank Mopar, a great company I've been proud to be involved with."
Karl Kinser commented about "the great points battle. It was a good season for us, and a better one for Danny. It was a great year for us, but a disappointing one at the same time. It's hard to smile when you lose. I had a good time and I'm proud to say, I ran third last year so I'm on my way up."
Reimers announced Lasoski and car owner Tony Stewart as the 2001 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series champions. "The Dude" and the NASCAR Winston Cup star each received $100,000 for claiming the title in their first year together.
"First of all, I have to thank my car owner, Tony Stewart," Lasoski said. "We just checked and he's running fifth or sixth at Rockingham. We woke him up last night at 3 o'clock. He called us back this morning at 8 o' clock and we talked again. He had an idea of doing this and I'm just the lucky guy he chose to drive the car. He wanted to be involved with the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series, but since he couldn't drive he wanted to be a car owner. I'm really glad he did. He gave me the best equipment in the world and gave me opportunity to hire the best crew chief and the best friend in the world, Jim Carr.
"When we started this thing, I asked him (Stewart), 'how are we going to afford to do this?' He told me he had a friend named Jim England in Indianapolis, who is the head guy at J.D. Byrider. Jim didn't know me from Adam, but came to see me at Terre Haute during a rainout last year. We got to talking about doing this and he said, 'I'm in.' We started a great friendship and I can't thank him enough. We agreed we needed to put together a team, so we also called our good buddy Stu Murray. As you know, he's been a great supporter of Mark Kinser and Guy Forbrook. He's an avid Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series supporter and we appreciate that very much.
"We also have the backbone of this team -- the guys who started me on my way -- Tony Ross of American Compressed Steel, and Vern Massey. You prodded me and I really appreciate your motivation. Phil Durst, he's been with us for a long time and he's got to be pretty proud to back #1 and #2 in the points.
"This next guy, I'm very honored to have as my dad and my best friend (George Lasoski). He works hard every single day at the shop when we're home. All you have to do is call up and tell him, 'hey, we need a car,' and he drops everything to take care of it.
"Chris (Lasoski's wife), I love you honey. You put up with some bad nights and the kids and me.
"I don't want to get choked up, but this is the greatest accomplishment of my life. To the 5M team -- Mark, you're a class act. I appreciate the phone call last night. Karl Kinser is definitely the icon of this sport. Karl, you came in my trailer last night and I couldn't feel any more proud to have you do that."
Ross accepted Stewart's check and read a statement from the car owner champion he dictated at 3:30 that morning.
"First of all, let me apologize for not being there. I hope everybody realizes I'll be racing today in Rockingham, NC, while you all are having a good time in Las Vegas. I really wish I could be there, but duty calls. When I received that phone call, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Never in my wildest dreams would I feel this was really possible this year, but I'm so proud to be a part of it. I didn't expect this, especially with a rookie team. All I ever hoped for in our first year was to be competitive but, most of all, have some fun."
Stewart's closing words were directly to Lasoski: "Yes, you're the champion, but I never dreamed a guy nicknamed 'Catfish' would win the championship. I'm proud of what you accomplished this year, but in two weeks when we go testing I'm going to take my car owner's hat off, put my helmet on and show you you're not quite as good as you think you are."
After asking the teams, officials and sponsors to give the track promoters a round of applause, Johnson closed the brunch by saying, "Let's never forget what happened September 11th. They're trying to change our country, but we're not going to let them."