CALISTOGA, CA (September 2) -- Tire choice often determines who wins and who watches the final laps of a Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series race at Calistoga Speedway. Such was the case in Sunday's Ninth Annual Harvest Classic finale at the ...
CALISTOGA, CA (September 2) -- Tire choice often determines who wins and who watches the final laps of a Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series race at Calistoga Speedway. Such was the case in Sunday's Ninth Annual Harvest Classic finale at the semi-banked, ½-mile oval.
Early leader Jeff Shepard regained first place when the right rear tire on Andy Hillenburg's #2 Luxaire J&J blistered with three laps remaining in the main event and held off defending champion Danny Lasoski for the $20,000 victory.
"This is what everyone wants to do," Shepard said after winning his second "A" Feature in the series' last five. "We had a great weekend and that was the goal coming in here. Andy got by us, and I thought we might have chosen too hard a right rear tire -- especially on the restarts -- but then he had problems and our Goodyears did the job.
"We have so much help with this team, and Jimmy Vasser Chevrolet-Toyota was helping us this weekend, along with -- of course -- Wirtgen and York Excavating. Guy (Forbrook) is a great crew chief, and we have so many good people helping on this car. This just feels so great."
The victory pushed Shepard into a sixth-place tie with Stevie Smith in the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series point standings.
Shepard, who also won the opening-night feature race and scored the most points in the preliminary programs, started the 30-lap main event on the pole. He drove Forbrook's #5 Wirtgen Maxim into the lead as the green flag fell. Hillenburg, who started outside the third row, passed Smith and Steve Kinser to take over fourth place early in the opening lap.
Kinser, a five-time winner at Calistoga Speedway, was racing wheel-to-wheel with Hillenburg two laps later when Smith and Second O'Reilly Heat Race winner Craig Dollansky collided in turn one. Randy Hannagan also hit Dollansky and both cars flipped. Kasey Kahne collided with Danny Wood as they tried to avoid the crash, and also turned over.
Hillenburg took advantage of the early red period, racing past Paul McMahan and Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Mark Kinser during the two laps after the race resumed. Hillenburg caught Shepard as they entered lapped traffic during the 10th lap.
Steve Kinser steered his #11 Quaker State-NAPA Maxim into the low groove between turns three and four to pass McMahan for fourth place just seconds before the caution flag fell for debris on the racing surface three laps later.
Smith and Lasoski exchanged sixth place during the three laps after the race resumed. Smith steered his #19 Ingersoll-Rand Maxim deep in the fourth corner to pass McMahan for fifth late in lap 17.
"The King of the Outlaws" used an inside move between turns one and two to pass cousin Mark for third place two laps later. Lasoski, who normally prefers racing in the low groove, steered NASCAR Winston Cup star Tony Stewart's #20L J.D. Byrider to the rim to pass McMahan and Smith for fifth place later in the 19th lap.
Hillenburg caught Shepard the next time around, and passed him for the lead deep in turn four. Brent Kaeding stopped in the second corner with a flat right rear tire several seconds later, bringing out the caution flag and taking the leaders out of lapped traffic.
"The Dude" stayed in the high groove to pass Mark Kinser for fourth place between turns one and two as the green flag replaced the yellow.
Hillenburg's right rear tire was losing air pressure when Shepard regained the lead with a high move through the first and second corners early in lap 27. The tire was completely flat within a lap, causing the 1988 Rookie of the Year to stop on the track. Donny Schatz' crew also replaced his flat right rear tire during the caution period. Rear end problems forced Smith to surrender seventh place.
McMahan and Tim Shaffer exchanged fifth place during the final lap, while Shepard beat Lasoski under the checkered flag by nine car-lengths.
"We tried to get by Jeff there, but with an open track he definitely had the faster car," Lasoski said. "We came from eighth to second, and that's not bad. We did the best job we could do."
The runner-up run pushed "The Dude" to within 14 points of Mark Kinser in their battle for the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series championship.
Steve Kinser finished in third place, ahead of Mark Kinser, McMahan, Shaffer, Jason Meyers, Third O'Reilly Heat Race winner Sammy Swindell, Joey Saldana and 15th-starting Brad Furr.
Meyers, who lives in Clovis, CA, won the "B" Feature and drove DOCC Motorsports' #20 Eagle Raceway Maxim past 10 cars to finish seventh.
Johnny Herrera was in sixth place early in the fourth lap of the "B" Feature when the #6 Casey's General Stores Maxim lost its left rear wheel in the first corner and flipped into the retaining wall. Herrera was uninjured, but the car was severely damaged.
The Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' fire-breathing, mudslinging sprint cars will head up the California coast to compete in the 48th Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, CA, Thursday through Saturday.