West Fargo Friday race report

Paulus Grabs Opener to World of Outlaws Sprint Series Duel in the Dakotas West Fargo, ND -- July 1, 2005 -- By Chris Dolack, World of Outlaws Senior Writer Brian Paulus can do no wrong lately. For the second race night in a row, Paulus powered...

Paulus Grabs Opener to World of Outlaws Sprint Series Duel in the Dakotas

West Fargo, ND -- July 1, 2005 -- By Chris Dolack, World of Outlaws Senior Writer

Brian Paulus can do no wrong lately. For the second race night in a row, Paulus powered his way to victory, this time leading all 25 laps Friday to capture the checkered flag in the opener of the Duel in the Dakotas at Red River Valley Speedway.

This comes after winning Tuesday night at Huset's Speedway. In fact, Paulus has had only one finish out of the top-five in the past six race nights. The series has competed 12 times since June 1, and Paulus has two A-feature wins, a preliminary feature victory and eight top-10 runs as his team has climbed from 16th to 12th in points.

The goal Friday night was to finish in the top four to be locked into the Stacker 2® Dash that will set the top six positions for the A-Feature Saturday. Paulus started on the outside pole and drove to the lead in the first turn with Jason Meyers charging into second. Those two pulled out as the field scrambled behind them.

Brooke Tatnell and Paul McMahan slid into third and fourth, but hometown favorite Donny Schatz was determined to crack the top four. Starting ninth, Schatz picked off car after car on successive laps, first going by Sammy Swindell, then Danny Lasoski and McMahan.

But he wasn't going to settle for fourth. Schatz caught Tatnell with 12 laps to go and then pulled off a maneuver that brought the huge partisan crowd to its feet. Coming off Turn 2 and not wanting to break his momentum on the high side of the half-mile oval, Schatz stayed high, Tatnell dove low and they split Joey Saldana on the backstretch. Schatz grabbed the position going into Turn 3 and set his sights on Meyers.

Paulus and Meyers had been smoothly cruising along through traffic while Schatz was making quick work of the field. Schatz poked the nose of his car under Meyers a couple of times, eventually getting side-by-side with three to go, but Meyers was able to fend him off each time as Tatnell began to close the gap to secure fourth. Those four -- Paulus, Meyers, Schatz and Tatnell -- will start in the top four positions Saturday in the Stacker 2® Dash.

"Obviously we're racing to win, but we're not stressed out," said Paulus, a Mean 15 racer from Mechanicsburg, Pa. "It's all about being consistent and bringing home good stats because we had such a pitiful start to the season. If we keep running in the top-five we can get ourselves back into the top 10 in points and we can salvage a decent season out of this.

"You've got Steve Kinser who is fast every night. Jason Meyers is having a storybook year. I'm happy to see him running the way he's running. To know that he ran right behind us, it just lets me know that we've actually been really fast if we're ahead of him because he's one of the benchmark cars this season to be watching for."

Paulus also has become a driver to watch. The car he used to win Friday, which has 62 races on it and a 4-year-old motor, also won Tuesday at Huset's Speedway and June 1 at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park. However, his second car is just as good, posting five top-fives in only eight races.

For Jason Meyers, a three-time winner this season from Clovis, Calif., who has battled his way to second in points, his runner-up finish locks him into the Stacker 2® Dash on the second night of an event for the first time this season.

"It's just great to be locked in," Meyers said. "I had a great car, the guys did a good job and this Don Ott-motor ran great. It was hard to pass late in the race, but with all the rain we got this week I think they did a great job getting the race in."

Schatz was clearly the driver the crowd was focused on, and he was easy to follow as he sliced through the field.

"It's fun for us," said Schatz, who has 16 top-10s this year. "We come here and want to do the best performance we can. Obviously, we did better than we have been doing. To have that kind of support is a warm feeling for us. We know we've got the hometown crowd and support and that's really what we want. This is our job and our passion and it's supposed to be fun, as well, and when we see that support it makes it a lot more fun.

"We haven't been locked in for a race in so long that it's hard to believe. We were actually pretty decent. You've got to crawl before you can walk, and tonight we crawled, tomorrow we're going to walk."

Australia native Tatnell also continues to post some of the most impressive finishes on the circuit. He has not finished out of the top 10 since May 27 at Williams Grove, a span of 14 races including preliminaries.

"I thought we had something for Jason there for a little bit, but we got to the point where we both almost collided with a lapped car and Schatz got by us and that was the end of the ballgame," Tatnell said. "I want to go and race to win, but there comes a point in time when you have to look at being smart and economical, get locked in and make amends tomorrow night."

Sammy Swindell was fifth followed by points-leader Steve Kinser, Kraig Kinser, Lasoski, Jason Sides and Craig Dollansky.

DUEL IN THE DAKOTAS NOTEBOOK

* Joey Saldana returned to action Friday night for the first time since he was injured in a three-car crash during a heat race June 17 at Eagle Raceway. He posted a quick lap of 15.900 seconds in time trials then powered to victory in the B-main. "It feels good to be back," said Saldana, a fierce competitor who was disappointed with his 21st-place finish despite climbing back into the car for the first time in five races. "You sit at home and you know you can do it and you finally get a chance to come out here and it feels like you've started all over again."

* Donny Schatz had the support of his hometown fans and sponsor ParkerStore Friday night. Schatz, a native of Fargo, won three of the first eight events this season. Since then he has struggled in qualifying which has hampered his team's effort. He believes racing at Red River Valley Speedway, where he won the Duel in the Dakotas in 2002 and hasn't finished out of the top 10 in an A-Feature since 1996, will turn around his season. "This race will always be special to me and my family," Schatz said. "Winning a couple of years ago took a lot of pressure off me, but I still put extra emphasis on this race because it is here. The best thing for me to do this weekend is get back to being in the hunt. We're going to work our tails off and try to put ourselves in position to win and keep getting better."

* The Duel in the Dakotas at Red River Valley Speedway is on half-mile oval. Including preliminary features, the series has raced 15 times this year on half-mile circuits with Steve Kinser winning four times (Volusia, Eldora, Knoxville and Williams Grove), Sammy Swindell winning three times (twice at Eldora, once at Hagerstown), Craig Dollansky winning twice (Manzanita and Williams Grove), Kraig Kinser winning twice (Las Vegas, Knoxville), and Donny Schatz (Las Vegas), Danny Lasoski (Knoxville), Jason Meyers (Granite City) and Jeff Shepard (Volusia) each winning once.

* World of Outlaws A-feature winners at Red River Valley Speedway include: 2004 -- Joey Saldana on July 10; 2003 -- Danny Lasoski on June 14; 2002 -- Donny Schatz on July 6; 2001 -- Craig Dollansky on July 7; 2000 -- Sammy Swindell on July 8; 1999 -- Steve Kinser on July 10; 1998 -- Sammy Swindell on July 11; 1997 -- Stevie Smith on July 12; 1996 -- Sammy Swindell on July 7; 1995 -- Sammy Swindell on July 8; 1994 -- Steve Kinser on July 10; 1993 -- Johnny Herrera on July 10; 1992 -- Steve Kinser on July 12; 1991 -- Doug Wolfgang on July 6; 1990 -- Doug Wolfgang on July 7; 1989 -- Jeff Swindell on July 8; 1988 -- Doug Wolfgang on July 9; 1987 -- Steve Kinser on July 11; 1986 -- Steve Kinser on July 12; 1985 -- Steve Kinser on July 13; 1984 -- Steve Kinser on July 14; 1983 -- Sammy Swindell on July 9; 1982 -- Steve Kinser on July 14; 1981 -- Sammy Swindell on July 13.

* In the Stacker 2® Dash, Paul McMahan battled past Jason Sides to earn the pole while Brooke Tatnell, Sides, Sammy Swindell, Donny Schatz and Kevin Swindell filled out the inside top six rows for the A-main.

* In the second Dash, Brian Paulus picked up where he left off at Huset's Speedway and powered to the lead in Turn 1 and held off Jason Meyers to earn the outside pole. Meyers, Danny Lasoski, Kraig Kinser, Shane Stewart and Steve Kinser rounded out the outside top six rows for the A-main.

* In the B-main, Joey Saldana marked his return to action with an impressive run to the checkered flag. After a race-long battle for second between Brandon Wimmer and Jason Solwold, Solwold slipped in front in Turn 3 on the final lap. Mark Dobmeier picked up the final transfer spot.

* In the first heat, Tim Shaffer shot out to a quick lead when John Cressman spun in Turn 3 to bring out a caution. Shaffer powered back in front on the restart and drove to the checkered flag with Daryn Pittman, Shane Stewart, Brian Paulus and Jason Sides also transferring to the feature.

* In the second heat, Craig Dollansky motored to the front from the outside pole as Danny Lasoski charged from fourth to second in the first turn. The field stretched out with Dollansky winning and Lasoski, Terry McCarl, Donny Schatz, Jason Meyers and Paul McMahan also transferring to the feature.

* In the third heat, Travis Whitney and Tim Kaeding started side-by-side and raced that way into Turn 3 where Kaeding slid in front and drove off with the victory. Whitney held on to finish second with Steve Kinser, Kevin Swindell, Sammy Swindell and Kraig Kinser also transferring.

* Brooke Tatnell paced the 30-car field with a lap around the half-mile oval in 15.427 seconds at 116.679 mph. Craig Dollansky set the single lap record of 14.786 seconds on July 4, 2002.

* The Outlaws conclude the Duel in the Dakotas Saturday night at Red River Valley Speedway, then race July 4 at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis., July 6 at The Raceway at Powercom Park in Beaver Dam, Wis., July 8 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., and July 9 at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo.

* The Outdoor Channel will air all of the action from the Eagle Nationals at 8 p.m. (ET) on July 6. The Outdoor Channel will then air the Duel in the Dakotas at 8 p.m. (ET) on July 13.

* If fans can't get to a track to see the series, they can experience the excitement of the World of Outlaws Sprint Series live on Dirtvision.com through the DIRT Radio Network. To listen to the audio broadcasts, log on to www.dirtvision.com and click on the DIRT Radio Network logo. Listeners will need Windows Media Player 9 or higher to listen to the DIRT Radio Network. For technical support or questions, e-mail webmaster@dirtvision.com.

* The World of Outlaws Sprint Series is brought to the fans across the country by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors Hoosier Racing Tire, Stacker 2®, and The Outdoor Channel. Promotional Partners include AMB i.t., RACEceiver, HUMMERSGONEWILD.COM, Zippo Lighters, The University of Northwestern Ohio, Timberwolf, and Race Punk apparel. Slick 50 is an Associate Program Sponsor and Contingency sponsors include DART Machinery, MSD Ignitions, and Wrisco Industries.

-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 , Kraig Kinser , Paul McMahan , Shane Stewart , Johnny Herrera , Tim Kaeding , Jeff Swindell
Teams Williams