Knoxville Nationals opener race report 2001-08-08

'The Dude' Roars in Nationals Opener KNOXVILLE, IA (August 8) -- Danny Lasoski took a big step toward winning his second Amoco Ultimate Knoxville Nationals championship in four years Wednesday when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened the...

'The Dude' Roars in Nationals Opener

KNOXVILLE, IA (August 8) -- Danny Lasoski took a big step toward winning his second Amoco Ultimate Knoxville Nationals championship in four years Wednesday when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened the 41st annual event.

"The Dude," who has also won the Knoxville Raceway track title seven times, raced past pole-sitter Craig Dollansky during a fourth-lap restart and took the checkered flag by almost half a lap at the semi-banked, 1/2-mile oval.

"This one's for you," Lasoski yelled to his car owner, NASCAR Winston Cup star Tony Stewart. "We couldn't have done it without you."

Lasoski won the prestigious event in 1998, was the runner-up in 1999 and finished behind two-time defending champion Mark Kinser and Donny Schatz a year ago. He was the fourth-fastest qualifier in the 64-car field Wednesday and passed nine cars to win the Fourth O'Reilly Heat Race.

"The Dude," who started the 25-lap main event inside the fourth row, raced past Joey Saldana, Sean Michael, Paul McMahan and 11-time Nationals champion Steve Kinser during the opening lap. He passed Knoxville Raceway regular Dennis Moore, Jr., low in turn three late in the second lap and lined up behind Dollansky after Moore brought out the caution flag with a back-straightaway spin the next time around.

Lasoski steered Stewart's #20L J.D. Byrider Eagle to the lowest point in the first corner to pass the defending World of Outlaws Gumout Series champion for the lead as the race resumed, and immediately started building a comfortable advantage. He was a half-straightaway ahead when he led Dollansky and Steve Kinser into lapped traffic four laps later.

Kinser, driving a special NAPA Auto Parts-sponsored car during the Nationals, battled power steering problems throughout the second half of the race, but exchanged the runner-up spot with Dollansky many times.

Lasoski raced half a lap ahead of Dollansky and Kinser and lapped more than half the field. The $10,000 victory was the 76th of his career at Knoxville Raceway.

"Danny had a good car," Dollansky, a Preliminary Feature during the previous three Nationals, said. "I was doing all I could to keep pace with him. Steve got up in there and made it a pretty good race."

When asked what it would take to win the $125,000 first prize in Saturday's championship feature, Lasoski said, "You have to have a ton of luck. You have to draw (qualifying positions) well and run well. It's a complete package. If you win the Knoxville Nationals, you have beaten the best of the best."

Kinser, who last won the Amoco Ultimate Knoxville Nationals in 1995, scored the third-most points in the first preliminary program.

"I had no power steering, but that's no excuse," Kinser said. "We just didn't get it done. There was a car a half a lap ahead of us."

Two-time defending Knoxville Raceway champion Terry McCarl finished in fourth place, ahead of Tim Shaffer, Saldana, McMahan, Randy Hannagan, 22nd-starting Daryn Pittman and Belleville Nationals winner Kasey Kahne.

Jac Haudenschild, the fastest qualifier, was racing through the field in the First O'Reilly Heat Race when an engine problem forced him into the pit area. "The Wild Child" won the "C" Feature and passed 10 cars in the "B" Feature, but failed to qualify for the main event.

Bill Wilburn, who races sprint cars when he's not changing the right front tire on Rusty Wallace's Winston Cup stock car, crashed into the retaining wall in turn one early in Fourth O'Reilly Heat Race. He was examined at Knoxville Area Community Hospital.

-WoO

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Sprint , World of Outlaws
Drivers Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Tim Shaffer , Mark Kinser , Danny Lasoski , Kasey Kahne , Steve Kinser , Craig Dollansky , Daryn Pittman , Joey Saldana , Paul McMahan , Randy Hannagan , Jac Haudenschild