World of Outlaws honors sprint car racing's best. Part 1 of 2. LAS VEGAS, NV (November 22) -- Officials, sponsors and team members alike felt a great sense of pride when the World of Outlaws honored its best performers from the 2002 season at...
World of Outlaws honors sprint car racing's best.
Part 1 of 2.
LAS VEGAS, NV (November 22) -- Officials, sponsors and team members alike felt a great sense of pride when the World of Outlaws honored its best performers from the 2002 season at its 25th Annual Awards Banquet November 10th at the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino.
"As far as I'm concerned, we have the best racers in the United States," World of Outlaws President Ted Johnson proclaimed. "These guys drive cars harder and maneuver the cars quicker than anybody I've ever seen in my life. They really stand on the gas and they're really exciting to watch.
"Then we have the guy who catches all the abuse -- the crew chief. The racer comes in off the track and the car's not working right, and it's the crew chief's fault. It doesn't matter if the driver didn't drive the car right, it's the crew chief's fault because the car wasn't right. The crew chiefs and their crews who work on the cars and drive all the miles they drive deserve a lot of credit.
"I also appreciate all the promoters in this room. They work awfully hard to give us the best track they can. Sometimes, we moan and groan the track's not right. This year, we had better race tracks than we've ever had.
"The women in the organization deserve a lot of credit, too. They work awfully hard to console their husband after he's had a bad race. They stay by his side no matter what happens and they put up with a lot of things.
"One thing we've always tried to do with the World of Outlaws is keep everything on an even plane. This coming year, we're going to add weight to the cars so they all weigh at least 1,375 pounds. This will let the racers who don't race with us regularly know when he comes to the race track that every car will weigh at least 1,375 pounds, so they will feel like they can race competitively. We're also going to have a tire rule. Every car owner loves that because it's going to save him money.
"We started this series 25 years ago. The first championship came down to the last race of the season between two drivers. I think Steve was leading the points and Rick Ferkel was second. Steve had a tire come out of the sky and hit on top of his car as he was going down the front chute at Eldora Speedway, and it knocked him out of the race. Ferkel had a problem with his motor and he dropped out, too, so Steve became the champion. Now he's the 17-time champion.
"Everybody in this room knows how tough it is to race a season with us. Danny Lasoski knows how tough it is. He crashed at Williams Grove and came back strong. Daryn Pittman had a bad crash and came back and ran awfully strong, too. These two men persevered through adversity and had good years. I feel like our racing is extremely safe. We've taken some bad hits and the drivers are still here."
World of Outlaws Director of Administration Carlton Reimers announced there would be no Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year award in 2002 because no true rookie ran with the series. The series awarded a Manufacturers Crew Chief of the Year and a Manufacturers Hard Charger of the Year instead.
"We appreciate all the different people who help us run the World of Outlaws, but one of the most significant groups are the parts manufacturers," Reimers said. "They're a great group of people who love this sport."
Generous contributions from Brodix, Crane Cams, Eagle Chassis, J&J Auto Racing, Maxim Chassis, MSD Ignitions, Sander Engineering, Schoenfeld Mufflers, Shaver Specialties, Weld Racing and Wesmar Engines make it possible for the World of Outlaws to reward special achievements.
"It's hard to choose the Crew Chief of the Year award because they're all deserving," Reimers said. "This year, we're rewarding a crew chief who worked for a team that made quite a bit of improvement. The team recorded 36 top-10 finishes -- 14 in the top five -- and won three main events. Most importantly, they went from 12th in the standings to eighth. The 2002 Crew Chief of the Year is Mike Harper of Brad Furr's #2 car."
Jack Elam of J&J Chassis and Chuck Merrill of Maxim Chassis presented Harper with the award and $5,000.
"I really don't know what to say," Harper said. "This is really a surprise. Receiving this is such an honor considering all the great crew chiefs who work on the cars racing with the World of Outlaws."
Reimers said the Hard Charger of the Year award is also tough to choose because every World of Outlaws racer is a hard charger.
"They wouldn't be here if they weren't hard chargers," Reimers said. "Although a driver receives this award, it's for the whole team. The driver receiving this award missed nine races after crashing early in the season. This team had to pack up and go home while its driver recovered. Many would have just stayed home, but this team stuck together and came back out with a vengeance. They had 38 top-10s -- 19 in the top five -- and won six "A" Features, which was third-best in the series. The Hard Charger of the Year is Daryn Pittman."
"We had a great year, but I can't take all the credit for it," Pittman said after receiving a $10,000 check. "In order to have the race team we had, it took a lot of hard work to do that, and Donnie and Sheri Woodburn did it. They gave me a ride three or four weeks before the season started. They did everything they could to make my job a little easier."
J.D. Kramer rewarded Craig Dollansky with $25,000 for winning the 2002 Ratbag Cup. Ratbag is the official developer of the World of Outlaws video games for PC and Sony PlayStation2. The Ratbag Cup is a season-long points battle that only involves events televised on the Speed Channel.
"Ratbag is proud to honor the driver who raced the hardest during the World of Outlaws races televised on the Speed Channel this year," Kramer said. "We started the video game project three years ago. It's been a lot of fun. Hopefully, a lot of people have learned what sprint car racing is through the game."
Moving into the point fund portion of the Awards Banquet, Reimers thanked Pennzoil, Goodyear, Hoosier, O'Reilly Auto Parts and Featherlite for their support. More than $770,000 was rewarded to the top 12 drivers and car owners in the point standings.
Danny Wood ranked 12th in the drivers standings, only 11 points behind Pittman.
"First of all, I'd like to thank my wife for putting up with me out here and following me around all year," Wood said. "She helped me a whole lot. I want to thank my kid who didn't see me for months at a time. I'd like to congratulate Steve Kinser for winning another one (championship). You just keep on going. That's a good thing because that means I still have a chance. You're older than I am.
"I'd like to thank Lonny Parsons for letting me drive the Casey's General Stores car. I'd like to thank my crew for helping me out all year and putting up with me all year. I'd like to thank Hoosier Racing Tires. They have the best tires out there. They're been around a long time and they've proven themselves. I'd like to thank Kistler Engines. They build a good engine. I want to thank Maxim Chassis. I took one for a good ride at Eldora, but they really saved me there.
"Other than that, it looks like Lonny's going to put the race car up. Hopefully, something else will come along and we'll be back out here next year."
Parsons finished 12th in the car owner standings.
"I want to thank Don Lamberte and Casey's General Stores and Housby Trucks for making it possible for us to race with the World of Outlaws," Parsons said. "Sometimes, we overlook the most important things; I want to thank the fans around the country who provided us with hospitality. We really appreciate that."
"I want to thank my crew and sponsors," Pittman said. "Without them, this wouldn't be possible. I want to thank J&J Chassis and all the manufacturers who give us the equipment to go out here and do our job."
Donnie Woodburn thanked the World of Outlaws teams and said he is looking forward to racing with the series again in 2003.
Randy Hannagan and TH Racing finished 10th in the point standings.
"This is better than last year when I was on crutches," Hannagan said. "First of all, I want to thank my brother, Terry. He's here for the first time. He doesn't get out to a lot of races, but he came out to Vegas to see the end-of-the-year races and come to the banquet. I want to thank him for all the years he's been behind me and a lot more years to come.
"I want to thank K&C Drywall. I also want to thank Sander Engineering, Energy Release, Hoosier Tires and my crew. We went through a few crew members this year, but we have a good crew for next year and the years to come.
"I also have thank my wife. She's been behind me 110 percent since day one. I'm looking forward to next year.
"I want to congratulate Steve, (crew chief) Scott Gerken and Steve Kinser Racing. They did a great job this year. That's what we aim for -- to sit at that number one table. Maybe some day, we'll get there."
Stevie Smith ranked ninth in the point standings in his 13th season with the World of Outlaws.
"I want to congratulate Steve Kinser and Scott Gerken," Smith said. "Y'all did a great job. You deserve another championship. I want to thank Ted Johnson. He has given the drivers and teams the opportunity to make a good living again this year in spite of the economy and the way the world has been.
"I want to thank my crew. We finished ninth and I don't consider that very good, but the other guys just beat us. The crew deserves a lot of credit. They did a great job, but we came up short. I also need to thank our sponsors -- Vivarin, Goodies Headache Powder, Goodyear Tires and Charlie Garrett Engines. I've driven for some of different owners, but David Helm is my favorite. I had a lot of fun with this team. I'm not sure what's going on for next year, but we'll see you then."