Tulare Prelim race report

Donny Schatz Captures Thrilling World of Outlaws Opener at Thunderbowl Raceway Tulare, CA -- Oct. 14, 2005 -- Following a season-high seven lead changes among three different drivers, Donny Schatz edged Sammy Swindell to capture a wild World of...

Donny Schatz Captures Thrilling World of Outlaws Opener at Thunderbowl Raceway

Tulare, CA -- Oct. 14, 2005 -- Following a season-high seven lead changes among three different drivers, Donny Schatz edged Sammy Swindell to capture a wild World of Outlaws Sprint Series preliminary feature Friday night at Thunderbowl Raceway.

In a race that included three red flags before nine laps could be completed, Schatz led laps 22-27 of the 30-lap event before Swindell moved in front on the bottom in Turns 1 and 2. Just then, in the battle for the final two transfer spots to Saturday's main event, early leader Kraig Kinser and Jason Meyers tangled, with Kinser sliding to a stop to bring out a caution and set up a green-white-checkered finish.

Swindell went to the bottom in Turn 1 in the Wirtgen/Jackpot Junction Maxim, Schatz slid up to the cushion in the ParkerStore J&J and motored ahead off of Turn 2. The two pulled even again and went wheel-to-wheel with Swindell holding a slight edge as they headed down the backstretch for the final time. Schatz carried his momentum through Turns 3 and 4 and had just enough horsepower to muscle his machine down the front stretch and grab his first checkered flag at Thunderbowl. It also was his first preliminary feature win this season, putting him on pole in the Stacker 2 Dash Saturday, when he will be aiming for his ninth A-feature win of 2005.

While the attention on the 1/3-mile high-banked oval was focused on Schatz and Swindell, the battle for the remaining two spots in the Dash on Saturday continued to be just as intense as the run for the lead. Jonathan Allard clinched a spot on the inside of Row 2 when he finished third in the GT Trends/Katie's Country Store Maxim, and Terry McCarl moved into the final lock-in position in the Big Game Treestands/Country Builders Eagle after he and Jason Meyers made contact in Turn 3 on the final lap.

Tim Kaeding in the Wright One Construction Maxim was fifth, with Brooke Tatnell's Castrol/Steel Dreams Eagle, Steve Kinser's Quaker State Maxim, Shane Stewart's Snap-On Maxim, Joey Saldana's Volcano Joe's/Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Maxim and Tim Shaffer's Casey's General Store Maxim rounding out the top 10. With the first 10 laps including a caution and three red flags, one for a six-car incident in Turn 4 just in front of the leaders, drivers from the rear of the field were able to move forward on restart after restart. Tatnell, Kinser and Stewart all achieved their top-10 finishes after starting 20th, 21st and 22nd.

The slicing and dicing throughout the race only served as a preview for the final two-lap dash to the checkered flag and the four lock-in positions to Saturday's main event.

"I knew he was going to run the middle," said Schatz, a Mean 15 racer from Fargo, N.D., who is gearing up for the 2006 season with the Outlaws. "I wasn't any good on the bottom, that's why he got by me in the first place. I was going to try to run the rim and see if I could get him back. I just could never get to it because the car was stuck before I ever got there. He got to defensive driving a little bit there, but that happens. We were just looking straight ahead and just trying to get by him. It might not work for us next time, but it sure did tonight.

"It didn't matter where we finished in the top four as long as we were in the top four. I never sit back and just try to run because anything can happen. We just got going and we got going pretty decent. Lapped traffic really helped us. We got long enough runs tonight where we could hit lapped traffic and be able to make moves on these guys. That's what makes racing fun. We don't want to see all these stops and starts. We want long green flag runs, get in lapped traffic and make it real racing instead of all these stops and starts. That's what the fans want to see and I think that's what some of the racers want to see as well."

On the final run, Swindell knew it took a couple of laps for his car to take off, but he gambled that by going to the bottom he could hold off Schatz down the stretch. Without anybody to follow and no clear cut line through the turns, Swindell went to the bottom and Schatz made his move to victory on the top.

"I think our car was probably a little bit better after we ran a couple of laps," said Swindell, a three-time World of Outlaws champion from Germantown, Tenn. "It seemed like the longer we ran the better it got. When I was behind Kraig, he could pull out a couple of car lengths the first lap or two and then I would start running up on him pretty good. I got by him, but a lot of guys were down on the bottom. I could see there was some rubber down there. Then Schatz got there on the outside and a lapped car got out of his way. I felt like we had a car that was better after we could get two laps in.

"After thinking about it, he was little bit tight trying to stay on the bottom and I probably should have moved up. I was kind of debating it, but I didn't know if I moved up then he might slide across on the restart. I just tried to play the odds and be in the right place, but after thinking about it I did get around him on the outside and he got around me on the outside. Maybe I should have been back there where I had run. I knew there was only a couple of laps to go and I figured we could hold him off. You had to really stop to stay on the bottom in Turn 1 and I probably rolled in too slow and I was just trying to make a good corner and he might have been back far enough where he could get a good run. That's the only problem with that. If you go to the bottom a guy can get a run. That's what I did and got around him."

So much attention focused on the battle for the lead, but the scramble to grab the final two transfer spots to the main event on Saturday was perhaps even more intense. Throughout the event, the race from third through 10th was wild, especially coming off of Turn 2. With cars going three-wide down the backstretch, it was inevitable that they would bang together going into Turns 3 and 4, where all the red flags occurred.

"You could have thrown a blanket on Ronnie Day, Tim Kaeding, myself, Meyers and McCarl," said Allard, who is locked into a feature with the Outlaws for the third time this season. "It was good racing. Everybody raced hard, clean. We did everything we could to stay up there. There were a couple of times I was figuring I was going to get towed in. I'm just really proud of these guys. Two cars, 360s, 410s, we always seem to be competitive with the Outlaws.

"Last year the experience we had has paid off tremendously, and I have a good team supporting me finally. What a difference a team makes."

McCarl was running in sixth when Kraig Kinser and Meyers got together while racing for fourth with two to go. On the green-white-checkered finish, McCarl got a strong run on Meyers before the two cars made contact going through Turn 3 for the final time, leaving Meyers stopped in the corner as McCarl grabbed the final locked-in position.

"It was an awesome race," said McCarl, a six-time Knoxville Raceway champion from Altoona, Iowa, who is ninth in the World of Outlaws championship standings as he prepares for the 2006 season with the Outlaws. "The fans got their money's worth. We really started moving up there the last 10 laps. I kind of hated to see that yellow. I found a little touch of rubber coming off of Turn 2 on the bottom and started making up some ground on everybody. We all ran the fourth spot down and it was getting interesting. That was just short track racing. You can beat the excitement of World of Outlaws sprint cars on a short track. There was so much to watch it was almost too much excitement going on.

"You always want to get locked in if you can, especially at this place. I have a lot of Country Builders Construction people here so it was big for us."

The Outlaws return on Saturday to Thunderbowl Raceway to conclude the two-day event before shifting to the season finale Oct. 21-22 at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

THUNDERBOWL RACEWAY NOTEBOOK

* Donny Schatz paced the 48 cars that went through time trials in the ParkerStore J&J with an AMB i.t.-timed lap around the 1/3-mile oval in 12.908 seconds at 92.036 mph. Kevin Swindell was the second-quickest racer in time trials with a lap in the York Excavating Maxim in 12.984 seconds at 91.497 mph. Joey Saldana established the single-lap record in World of Outlaws competition with he turned a lap in 12.751 seconds on Oct. 29, 2004.

* Donny Schatz's victory on Friday night was his first preliminary feature win of 2005. He also has eight A-feature victories, second-most this year. -- Steve Kinser has a series-leading 20 A-feature victories and six preliminary feature wins this season. -- There have been 17 different A-feature winners this season. Including preliminary features, 22 different drivers have visited Victory Lane this season with the Outlaws. -- Kraig Kinser captured the Knoxville Nationals on Aug. 14 for his sixth A-feature victory of the season. He also has a preliminary feature win at Las Vegas. -- Jason Meyers earned his fourth win of the season July 2 at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, N.D. -- Tim Shaffer's victory July 19 in the Silver Cup was his third of the season, going with wins Lake Ozark Speedway and Thunderbowl Raceway. -- Danny Lasoski's victory Oct. 9 at Dodge City Raceway Park was his second A-feature win this season. He also has four preliminary feature victories. -- Craig Dollansky has two A-feature victories and three preliminary feature wins. -- Brian Paulus won June 28 at Huset's Speedway for his second victory of the season, and picked up a preliminary feature win in the following race at Red River Valley Speedway. -- Brooke Tatnell has two A-feature victories, winning at Cedar Lake and Fulton speedways, as well as a preliminary feature win at Princeton Speedway. -- Sammy Swindell won his second A-feature of the season June 4 at Eldora Speedway. Swindell also has a preliminary feature win April 8 at Eldora and Aug. 14 at Knoxville Raceway in the Nationals' non-qualifiers event. -- Fred Rahmer's victory Friday night was his second preliminary feature win of the season with the Outlaws. He also won the Summer Nationals crown July 23 and picked up a preliminary feature win in the Knoxville Nationals on Aug. 10. -- Single-event winners include Jac Haudenschild on Aug. 5 at Eldora Speedway, Stevie Smith July 13 at Attica Raceway Park, Tim Kaeding June 11 at Sheboygan County Fair Park, Chad Kemenah July 9 at I-55 Raceway, and Jeff Shepard Feb. 11 at Volusia Speedway Park. -- In preliminary features, Joey Saldana, Paul McMahan, Jason Johnson and Shane Stewart have each won once.

* Thunderbowl Raceway is a 1/3-mile oval. The series has raced 13 times this season on a track that size, including preliminaries, with five different winners. Tim Shaffer won Feb. 25 at Thunderbowl Raceway, Craig Dollansky won Feb. 26 at Bakersfield Speedway, Kraig Kinser won April 2 at I-55 Raceway, Tim Shaffer won May 6 at Lake Ozark Speedway, Steve Kinser won May 24 at Grandview Speedway, Steve Kinser swept Eagle Raceway June 17-18, Craig Dollansky won July 6 at Powercom Park, Chad Kemenah won July 9 at I-55 Raceway, Steve Kinser won Sept. 16-17 at Eagle Raceway, Daryn Pittman won Sept. 24 at Powercom Park, and Donny Schatz won Oct. 14 at Thunderbowl Raceway.

* Drivers who have raced to victory in preliminary features this season include (in alphabetical order) Craig Dollansky three times (Manzanita/Williams Grove/Silver Dollar), Jason Johnson once (Williams Grove), Kraig Kinser once (Las Vegas), Steve Kinser six times (Eagle twice/Billings/Elma/Calistoga/Silver Dollar), Danny Lasoski four times (Australia/Knoxville/Calistoga/Dodge City), Fred Rahmer twice (Knoxville/Williams Grove), Kerry Madsen once (Australia), Paul McMahan once (Williams Grove), Brian Paulus once (Red River Valley), Joey Saldana once (Lernerville), Donny Schatz once (Thunderbowl), Shane Stewart once (Knoxville), Sammy Swindell twice (Eldora/Knoxville), and Brooke Tatnell once (Princeton).

* In the Stacker 2 Dash that set the top six inside rows for the main event, fast-qualifier Donny Schatz held off Kraig Kinser for six laps to win the pole for the main event. Kinser, Jonathan Allard, Randy Hannagan, Terry McCarl and Joey Saldana rounded out the field.

* In the second Dash that set the outside top six rows for the feature, Sammy Swindell jumped ahead of Jason Meyers and raced to the checkered flag to earn the outside pole for the main event. Meyers, Ronnie Day, Tim Kaeding, Steve Kent and Paul McMahan rounded out the field.

* Tim Shaffer, who won the World of Outlaws feature in February at Thunderbowl Raceway, survived two restarts to roll to victory in the B-main as Jac Haudenschild, Jason Sides and Craig Dollansky earned the final transfer spots to the main event. Robert Ballou and Brad Sweet started at the rear of the B-main after finishing in the top two positions of the C-main.

* In the first heat, Brandon Wimmer raced to the front on the high side in Turn 1 with Randy Hannagan and fast-qualifier Donny Schatz moving into second and third by Turn 4. Wimmer extended his lead to 4.245 seconds by the checkered flag, with Hannagan, Schatz, Jim Skinner and Steve Kent earning the other transfer spots.

* In the second heat, Danny Lasoski rolled to front at the start and held off Shane Stewart to pick up the victory. Tim Kaeding, in the Rick Wright machine, finished third with Jason Meyers sliding into fourth and Terry McCarl grabbing the final transfer spot.

* In the third heat, Brooke Tatnell swept into the lead in Turn 1 as Steve Kinser slid into second, with Jonathan Allard in third followed by Paul McMahan and Sammy Swindell. The top five cars circled the 1/3-mile oval in 1-second intervals until Tatnell caught the rear of the field with two laps remaining. With the lapped car running in Tatnell's line, Kinser closed fast. Once Tatnell worked around the car he easily raced to the checkered flag.

* In the fourth heat, Brent Kaeding muscled his way to the front as Ronnie Day fought his way to second, both taking advantage of the top line. Joey Saldana held onto third with Jason Solwold grabbing fourth and Kraig Kinser holding off Tim Shaffer in a battle for the final transfer spot.

* The Outlaws return on Saturday to Thunderbowl Raceway to conclude the two-day event before shifting to the season finale Oct. 21-22 at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

* The Outdoor Channel will air at 8 p.m. Eastern on Oct. 19 the Dodge City Raceway Park event, followed on Oct. 26 by the Thunderbowl Raceway event and Nov. 2 by the season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

-woo-

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Tim Shaffer , Kevin Swindell , Danny Lasoski , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Sammy Swindell , Craig Dollansky , Brian Paulus , Brooke Tatnell , Daryn Pittman , Jason Meyers , Jason Sides , Joey Saldana , Jonathan Allard , Kerry Madsen , Kraig Kinser , Paul McMahan , Randy Hannagan , Shane Stewart , Brad Sweet , Jac Haudenschild , Chad Kemenah , Tim Kaeding , Jason Johnson
Teams Williams