Hillenburg Dominates Watsonville Feature WATSONVILLE, CA (August 29) -- Andy Hillenburg epitomized Murphy's Law during the first half of August. It seemed like everything the 1988 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series Rookie of the Year did went ...
Hillenburg Dominates Watsonville Feature
WATSONVILLE, CA (August 29) -- Andy Hillenburg epitomized Murphy's Law during the first half of August. It seemed like everything the 1988 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series Rookie of the Year did went wrong.
Hillenburg turned his luck around Wednesday at Watsonville Speedway, however, passing pole-sitter Stevie Smith early and leading all 40 laps to claim his fifth "A" Feature victory of the season. Luck was definitely on Hillenburg's side early in the 11th lap as he maintained first place despite turning his #2 Luxaire J&J completely around as he dodged Eric Rossi in turn one.
"It was a good night for the Luxaire team and Andy Hillenburg Motorsports," Hillenburg said. "We've just been having some bad luck lately. We've let a few races get away, and we need to win a few more before the end of the season.
"I want to thank everyone at K&C Drywall for sponsoring this race tonight. They have a car out here all year long (TH Racing's #1X driven by Randy Hannagan), and I'm glad they're involved in Word of Outlaws racing."
Hillenburg, the ninth-fastest qualifier in the 40-car field, won the First O'Reilly Heat Race. He earned the privilege of starting the main event on the front row by passing two cars and following Smith across the finish line in the Channellock Dash.
Smith won a front-straightaway drag race with Hillenburg as the green flag fell in the "A" Feature, only to have Andy pass him high in the second corner.
Joey Saldana, who won the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' inaugural event at Watsonville Speedway last September 9th, passed Paul McMahan and Tim Shaffer in the high groove during laps three and four to take over third place.
Danny Wood, who spun early in the Second O'Reilly Heat Race then raced back into third place from the back of the pack, drove Sher-Don Motorsports' #21W Pepsi Avenger past Smith on the back stretch midway through the fifth lap to claim second place.
The leaders were approaching lapped traffic the next time around when Fourth O'Reilly Heat Race winner Steve Kent spun in turn four.
Hillenburg raced away from the field while Saldana steered Dennis Roth's #83 Beef Packers Eagle to the rim in the fourth corner to pass Smith for third place as the green flag replaced the yellow.
Hillenburg was eight car-lengths ahead of Wood when he entered lapped traffic during the 10th lap. Andy was approaching Rossi when the #98X sprinter crashed into the retaining tire deep in the first corner. Hillenburg narrowly missed Rossi and managed to keep his Don Ott engine fired despite turning completely around.
Hillenburg controlled the ensuing restart and caught the back-markers with a seven-car-length advantage five laps later. Smith battled Saldana during the race's middle stages, but was unable to drive his #19 Ingersoll-Rand Maxim into third place.
Craig Dollansky took the low line through turn one to pass Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Mark Kinser for 10th place with 1¾ laps remaining.
Hillenburg built a comfortable advantage during the second half of the race and took the checkered flag as Wood raced into the third corner. The $10,000 victory pushed Hillenburg past Saldana, Jeff Shepard, and Shaffer into seventh place in the point standings. A mechanical malfunction kept Andy from completing his victory lap.
"I don't know what happened, but we're going to need a tow truck to get the car back to the pits," Hillenburg said. "The rear end just locked up on it. I guess it was tired after 30 laps and just couldn't go any more.
"Actually, we were set up to run the top of the speedway. I didn't think it would take rubber, except maybe getting off of turn four. Instead, it took rubber in one and two as well, and we were really too tight there at the end of the race. That's why we were having so much trouble getting by lapped cars."
Wood's runner-up run was the 2000 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year award winner's best finish through the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' first 51 main events in 2001.
Saldana, who paced the qualifying session with an 11.560-second lap around the high-banked, ¼-mile oval, raced into third place from outside the fourth row. Smith finished fourth, ahead of McMahan, Shepard, Brad Furr, Shaffer, Danny Lasoski and Dollansky.
Lasoski's ninth-place finish pushed him to within 17 points of Kinser in their battle for the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series championship.
Steve Kinser, only the 20th-fastest qualifier, drove his #11 Quaker State-NAPA Maxim past eight cars to finish 12th in the "A" Feature.