2006 World of Outlaws Season Review: April Concord, NC--Dec. 13, 2006 -- April brought an added battle for World for Outlaws competitors, as they not only went wheel-to-wheel on the track, but also contended with Mother Nature off it, as an ...
2006 World of Outlaws Season Review: April
Concord, NC--Dec. 13, 2006 -- April brought an added battle for World for Outlaws competitors, as they not only went wheel-to-wheel on the track, but also contended with Mother Nature off it, as an extremely rainy month plagued drivers, teams, and fans.
After winning on the last day of March at Batesville (Ark.) Speedway, Donny Schatz completed a weekend sweep as the calendar turned to April on the always tough high-banks of I-55 Raceway in Missouri, a track co-owned and promoted by NASCAR star Ken Schrader.
Schatz started on the outside of the front row and took the lead from Terry McCarl on the opening lap and went on to lead all 40 circuits, holding off Joey Saldana and Craig Dollansky, to earn his third A-Feature win of the season, and his third win in the last four races.
"I always race as hard as I can without getting myself in trouble," said Schatz, the 1997 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year. "Some nights you just start closer to the front than others. We were lucky enough to qualify well tonight and they drew the "0" for the dash inversion. It went against us four times that way, it's about time it went our direction. We had the best car and I just kept going. I didn't make any foolish mistakes. The racecar was good and could go anywhere."
After turning the second fastest lap in time trials, and also leading the most laps, Schatz was able to secure eight bonus points, as he helped extend his lead over Saldana to 49 points, as the series headed the famed Eldora Speedway for two events.
The preliminary night at Eldora on April 7, brought very windy and cold condition, reminiscent of the weather at Las Vegas in March.
Three-time series champion Sammy Swindell, who won at Las Vegas also on a blustery night, battled not only Mother Nature, but also his race car to pick up the preliminary feature win on the opening night at Eldora. As the laps wound down, he lost the brakes on his car and also had a throttle that was sticking almost completely open. Swindell used his 25-plus years of racing experience to lead all 25 laps on the half-mile holding off 2001 World of Outlaws Champions Danny Lasoski, as well as Schatz, and Tim Kaeding for the win. All four drivers locked themselves into the dash the following night.
"I think it's experience," Swindell said. "This place is all about the momentum and keeping the speed up, keeping the car under you and the tires on it. It's a little intimidating. It's pretty fast and we run close to the wall. You've got to have confidence in the car and know that you can run right to that point and not wreck. A lot of guys aren't comfortable getting that extra foot of the racetrack that maybe I think I can get."
Donny Schatz used his second-place run to extend his lead in the championship point standings to 51 markers over Saldana and 71 over McCarl in third.
The second night brought the same results as the opener, with Swindell leading all 30 laps to earn $12,000 and bringing his weekend winnings to $17,000. After picking up a victory in the dash, he earned the pole position for the A-Feature and turned in a dominating performance to complete the weekend sweep.
Tim Kaeding charged to a runner-up finish, with Danny Lasoski in third, Jac Haudenschild fourth, and Joey Saldana fifth.
"You've got to do whatever it takes," said Swindell, in the winner's circle. "A lot of guys can run good on some of the smaller or slower tracks but running well at high-speed tracks has always been something I've always been able to do. The faster the place is, it seemed like the more of an advantage I can get at times. I really like the speed. I think a lot of guys get intimidated by running up close to the wall but I've got a lot of laps in here and I'm more comfortable running right up next to the wall than being away from it. I figure if something breaks then I won't hit it very hard. I'd rather be right up next to it rather than be down a ways. Definitely if it's fast, I'll be the first one up there."
Donny Schatz finished in sixth, one spot behind Saldana who cut two points off Schatz's lead in the championship standings. The spread was 49 markers as the series traveled to Tri-State (Ind.) Speedway for the first quarter-mile event of the season.
After steadily climbing his way back into the Top-10 in points after some bad luck befell him earlier in the season, Craig Dollansky was ready to attack the always tough high-banks at Tri-State.
After winning the second dash, he lined up on the outside of the front row for the 40-lap A-Feature. Rob Chaney, filling in for the injured Jason Martin stared on the pole and led the first nine laps until he encountered heavy lapped traffic that gave Dollansky the opening he needed to charge his way to the front.
Dollansky set sail once in the lead, weaving his way through traffic, during a 33-lap green flag run that saw him lap up to the fifth-place finisher. Terry McCarl finished second with Chaney in third, Jac Haudenschild in fourth, and Brooke Tatnell rounding out the Top-Five.
"We made a change of race cars about five races ago and things have been getting progressively better for us," said Dollansky, after earning his first win of the season. "We didn't just change personnel, we changed some shock stuff. We got some stuff sorted out and the last five nights of racing, I have been pretty happy with the race car and we have been gaining on it, slowly but surely. We've had some good runs, and I definitely feel like we are moving in the right direction to build some momentum."
Donny Schatz salvaged what could have been a dreadful night to maintain his position atop the championship standings. After winning his heat and finishing second in his dash, Schatz lined up third in the feature. During a caution on Lap 3, he gave up the fourth spot so his crew could work on a wheel problem, dropping him to the tail of the lead lap. He battled back to finish in the 10th position.
Schatz was thus able to extend his point lead to 72 points over Joey Saldana, who had a tough night at Tri-State. With his win, Dollansky jumped from fifth to third in the standings, only 86 markers behind Schatz.
Mother Nature claimed the next three checkered flags, as the City of Lawrenceburg Sprint Nationals at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway fell victim to heavy rain on April 21, followed by Budweiser Night at Knoxville Raceway being rained out on April 29, and the event at Huset's Speedway on April 30. The event at Lawrenceburg were re-scheduled for July 7, with the race at Knoxville re-scheduled for October 7, and the event as Huset's was set to be made up on May 7.
With the first East Coast swing of the season on the horizon, the teams used the weather-induced break to prepare for an intense month of travel as the calendar turned to May, beginning first in the Midwest with the inaugural visit to the wicked-fast high-banks of US 36 Raceway in Missouri.
Up Next: A review of the World of Outlaws Sprint Series events from the month of May.