Cactus Classic Friday report

Jam Session Helps Dollansky Win World of Outlaws Cactus Classic Opener at Manzanita Phoenix -- March 4, 2005 -- A heavy traffic jam left Craig Dollansky jamming in Victory Lane when he won the Cactus Classic opener Friday night as light rain ...

Jam Session Helps Dollansky Win World of Outlaws Cactus Classic Opener at Manzanita

Phoenix -- March 4, 2005 -- A heavy traffic jam left Craig Dollansky jamming in Victory Lane when he won the Cactus Classic opener Friday night as light rain began to fall at Manzanita Speedway.

After a thrilling race-long duel with Danny Lasoski, Dollansky made his final move coming off of Turn 4 with two laps to go in the 25-lap race. He charged to the rear of Lasoski's car and when Lasoski faced traffic, Dollansky abandoned the cushion and ducked to the low side of the track.

Lasoski also went low, but Dollansky had the edge in his Karavan Motorsports machine and held on by 0.45 to take the checkered flag in the $5,000-to-win event. Following Lasoski to the finish were Steve Kinser, Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year leader Shane Stewart, and Aussie native Brooke Tatnell, who at 3 p.m. ended about a 15-hour journey from Australia to Phoenix via Los Angeles to finally climb into the No. 8 Rush Racing machine he will pilot for the remainder of the season.

Dollansky, Lasoski, Kinser and Stewart are locked into the dash for the feature event Saturday night at Manzanita. They are not required to run in time trials or heat races.

To earn that privilege, Dollansky and Lasoski started side-by-side on the front row and went wheel-to-wheel into Turn 1 to start the race. Lasoski took control on the high side of the half-mile track as he exited Turn 2. He was starting to pull away when a caution and then red flag came out with three laps complete.

Danny Smith had hit the wall hard in Turn 2, causing severe damage to the front of his car. On the restart, Kevin Swindell went into the wall and as the field bunched up Jac Haudenschild also hit the wall and cartwheeled end over end. Swindell was able to continue in the feature, but Haudenschild, who was not seriously injured, did not.

Lasoski maintained his lead after the single-file restart as Tim Kaeding continued to surge toward the front from his 17th-place starting position. He had just passed Kevin Swindell for ninth when another caution waved after Brian Paulus spun in Turn 4, collecting Tim Shaffer in the process.

With the field bunched again, Dollansky grabbed the lead on Lap 14 as he slid past Lasoski on the high side when they came out of Turn 4. But Lasoski shot right back in front by going low through Turns 1 and 2.

Finally, the two came upon lapped cars for the final time, with Dollansky making his move low in Turn 4 and holding on for a narrow victory.

"Danny was doing a great job there, but sometimes it's to your advantage when you're running second," said Dollansky, who closed to within six points of series leader Steve Kinser with his victory Friday night. "He was doing what he needed to do there, just sometimes it works out in your favor and sometimes it doesn't. Tonight it worked out in our favor."

In qualifying action, Tatnell, who just clinched the 2005 Australian Sprintcar Championship, started the first dash on the pole. But Dollansky displayed the horsepower that helped him win last weekend at Bakersfield Speedway and drove off with the victory and the pole position for the A-main.

Lasoski, who has struggled in qualifying all season, was back to form and led from pole-to-checkers in the second dash, holding off Steve Kinser down the stretch to earn a front-row starting spot for the first time this season.

In the B-main, Terry McCarl grabbed the lead after the green flag waved, but his front wing collapsed on Lap 5, affecting his handling. Donny Schatz quickly closed in, slipping past McCarl on Lap 10 and into the lead. Once in front, Schatz drove away from the field for the victory.

Kaeding, Jason Solwold and Joey Saldana easily won their heats, but Shaffer had to work overtime to earn a victory in the second heat race. With speeds topping 114 mph, Shaffer's heat featured a wild crash as the field was coming around to take the checkered flag. A lapped car driven by Steve Martin was on the low side of Turn 2 when it lost a wheel, sending it upside down. Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year contender Brandon Wimmer had nowhere to go and collided with Martin's car, resulting in Wimmer flipping, too. Both drivers were able to walk away but the field was reset and forced to run an extra lap because all World of Outlaws events must finish with two consecutive laps of racing before the checkered flag waves. Shaffer was able to hold off Danny Smith to earn the victory.

With quick times continuously falling in qualifying, 16-year-old Kevin Swindell was one of the final racers to go out and he screamed around the half-mile oval in 15.595 seconds, or 115.422 mph, to earn the fast time of the night. It bettered Steve Kinser's lap of 15.605 seconds, which was set only moments before Swindell took the track. Still, nobody came close to Jac Haudenschild's track record of 15.340 seconds lap on Jan. 30, 1997.

"It feels real good to come here and be fast right out of the gate, and especially to out-qualify guys like [Steve Kinser] and my dad," said Kevin Swindell, who at 15 became the youngest racer to finish in the top 10 of an Outlaws event earlier this season in Australia. "This is like going back to the go-kart days. You just drive it straight and wide open."

The $12,000-to-win conclusion of the Cactus Classic at Manzanita Speedway is Saturday night. All the action from Phoenix can be seen on The Outdoor Channel at 8 p.m. (Eastern) March 23.

The World of Outlaws Sprint Series remains in the West to race March 10-11 in the J.D. Byrider World of Outlaws Nationals at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The series shifts March 18 to Pike County Speedway in Magnolia, Miss., and March 19 at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas.

-woo-

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Kevin Swindell , Danny Lasoski , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Steve Martin , Craig Dollansky , Brian Paulus , Brooke Tatnell , Joey Saldana , Shane Stewart , Jac Haudenschild