2005 World of Outlaws Sprint Series Season In Review: January through February Norman, OK -- Nov. 3, 2005 -- The 2005 World of Outlaws Sprint Series season was one of the most competitive in the series' 28 years. After racing on two continents...
2005 World of Outlaws Sprint Series Season In Review: January through February
Norman, OK -- Nov. 3, 2005 -- The 2005 World of Outlaws Sprint Series season was one of the most competitive in the series' 28 years. After racing on two continents and in 27 different states, there were 22 different winners -- including preliminary features -- led by Steve Kinser's 26 total visits to Victory Lane followed by Donny Schatz's nine total wins.
But as the opening two months of the season came to a close, it was Craig Dollansky who positioned himself to make a move to the top after a victory at Bakersfield Speedway.
The season opened in January in Australia with Kerry Madsen capturing the first night of the three-day Outlaws Down Under event at Parramatta City Raceway. Madsen and Danny Lasoski raced back-and-forth before Madsen cut to the bottom and drove to the checkered flag.
On the second night of the event, Lasoski slipped past Trevor Green and Kerry Madsen to grab the lead with 22 laps to go. From there, Lasoski pulled away to win by a half lap, the first of his five preliminary feature wins in 2005.
But when it came to the main event, Donny Schatz was able to cut to the bottom groove only five laps in and slide past Lasoski. Schatz would weave through traffic and retain the lead following a red flag to win by 12 car lengths, with Lasoski and Madsen rounding out the top three positions.
"I chased this racecar up and down the pit area all night long," Schatz said following the first of his eight A-feature wins in 2005. "I changed just about everything on this car before the start of the A-main, and I wasn't sure we were doing the right thing, but it obviously paid off."
Also on the final night, 15-year-old Kevin Swindell turned in a sixth-place run, making him the youngest racer to earn a top-10 in a main event with the Outlaws.
The series then shifted in February to Volusia Speedway Park, where it hadn't raced since 1981 when Doug Wolfgang was the winner. With the facility in the midst of its 34th Annual Speed Weeks and all the excitement of the season-opening NASCAR action down the road at Daytona International Speedway, the World of Outlaws raced in front of packed grandstands on two separate nights.
Jeff Shepard stole the show on the first night, smoothly working through lapped cars to hold off Steve Kinser after Donny Schatz's machine went out with mechanical trouble while in the lead just past the halfway point of the feature.
"All I know is beating the Outlaws is one of the hardest things I've ever done in my career," Shepard said after the win. "It's a great victory."
Kinser improved one spot on the second night at Volusia to earn his first of 20 main-event wins in 2005. It might have been the first of his many victories, but it also was one of the most dominating. Kinser topped qualifying time trials, won the Stacker 2 Dash and led flag-to-flag in the bottom groove of the A-main as Craig Dollansky tried to run him down on the top.
"It's always good to get started well," Kinser said at the time. "We came out and shook the car down Thursday and ran second, ran second the next night and won tonight so we've been in the hunt every night. That's what you've got to do."
Kinser was more than in the hunt the rest of the season as he used that victory to roll to his 20th World of Outlaws championship by 543 points.
But before February could conclude, the Outlaws crossed the country for a weekend of racing in central California, first at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif., and then Bakersfield Speedway in Oildale, Calif., just outside Bakersfield.
Tim Kaeding was on his way to victory at Thunderbowl in a race promoted by his car owner, Dennis Roth, when misfortune struck five laps from the checkered flag. After starting on the pole, Kaeding was holding off Tim Shaffer and Donny Schatz when he quickly came up on lapped traffic. After a lapped car bobbled in front of him, Kaeding made just enough contact that it caused him to flip. Shaffer was directly behind Kaeding, but escaped with minimal wing damage to slip into the lead. Shaffer had a big jump on the restart and held off Schatz by less than a second for the first of his four A-feature victories in 2005.
"We had a lot of luck tonight," Shaffer said in the winner's circle. "I was in the right place at the right time. We'll take it. Lonny Parsons and this Casey's General Store car have been a great deal. The boys have been working hard. We're working together and we're having fun. When you get the breaks to go your way, you can make things happen."
The next night at Bakersfield Speedway, Dollansky made the breaks go his way was he closed in on the points lead when the Outlaws returned to the 1/3-mile oval for the first time in 10 years.
With Joey Saldana starting on the pole, Dollansky quickly worked in behind him. The two pulled away following a restart with 17 laps down. After looking high and ducking low, Dollansky made his move and slid in front as they came out of Turn 4. Saldana fought back but had to tuck in behind Dollansky to protect his spot from Steve Kinser.
"We've been communicating real well and it's making a big difference in this race team," Dollansky said while celebrating the victory. "We switched to J&J Chassis and that's working real well for us, and Charlie Garrett built a motor that is second to none. He works his butt off back home."
NEXT UP: Our review of the 2005 season will continue with recaps of the action from March and April.