CALISTOGA DREAMING: Craig Dollansky Earns His First World of Outlaws Harvest Classic Title Calistoga, CA-September 3, 2006 -- Craig Dollansky was looking for a spark to finish off the season on a strong note, and build momentum as he gears up...
CALISTOGA DREAMING: Craig Dollansky Earns His First World of Outlaws Harvest Classic Title
Calistoga, CA-September 3, 2006 -- Craig Dollansky was looking for a spark to finish off the season on a strong note, and build momentum as he gears up for the 2007 campaign. A couple weeks back, he found that spark by adding veteran sprint car mechanic and crew chief Rob Hart to the team to bolster their already strong line-up. The move has paid big dividends in the last week, with a string of four third place-finishes that began at Skagit Speedway and continued through the preliminary feature on Saturday night at Calistoga Speedway. Heading into the Harvest Classic, the native of Elk River, Minn., was solidly in the top-three in series points on the strength of four A-Feature wins.
With his strong run on Saturday, Dollansky locked himself into the second row of the dash on Sunday night. He improved on that to earn the outside front row staring spot for the 30-lap A-Feature.
Dollansky jumped out front in the first corner and held off Danny Lasoski exiting the final turn to capture the $12,000 World of Outlaws Harvest Classic on Sunday night at Calistoga Speedway.
Following a restart with 13 laps to go, Dollansky, who is third in the World of Outlaws championship standings, managed to keep one lapped car between his Karavan Trailers/Stone Mountain Access Systems Maxim and Lasoski, the 2001 World of Outlaws champion who finished sixth in World of Outlaws points in 2005.
Lasoski finally cleared the traffic in his Roth Motorsports Eagle as he and Dollansky came down the front stretch for the final time at the half-mile oval, but Dollansky had enough horsepower in his Charlie Fisher Racing Engine to win a World of Outlaws A-feature event for the fifth time this season and the first time in his career at Calistoga Speedway.
"When you get a race car like that, you have to win," Dollansky said. "My guys, Rob, Dave, Eric, and Matt did a great job getting that car ready for racing tonight."
Despite, having a bit less track time than the cars that had to go through time trials and heat races, Dollansky and his team found the perfect set-up, and chose the right tires to power their way to the victory.
Lasoski gave it one final charge on the last lap using traffic to his advantage to close the gap. Though he was disappointed to not pick up the win, after being victorious in Saturday night?s preliminary feature, the native of Dover, Mo., was quick to credit Dollansky and the winning team.
"He did a good job," said Lasoski. "It had nothing to do with needing one more lap. The thing was 30-laps long and Craig did a good job. Sometimes the better car wins and he had the better car tonight."
Defending Harvest Classic champion and current World of Outlaws championship points leader Donny Schatz finished third in the ParkerStore J&J and Joey Saldana, who is second in the World of Outlaws standings, was fourth in the Mopar-powered Dodge/Curb Records JEI. Jeremy Campbell, the youngest of the World of Outlaws drivers at 22 and who until Saturday had never raced at Calistoga, charged from 20th on the starting grid to finish fifth in the Americas Best Value Inn/Utopia Optics Maxim.
"We made up a little ground at the end, but not enough," said Schatz. "We just weren't as good as we should have been. Our cars are good in the longer races and when the track gets slick. We were a little bit cautious. We expected it to lay rubber and it didn't. That part of it. Some nights you will misread it, and we have not been off too many nights. I'm glad to get a top-three."
Saldana was relieved to pick up another top-five finish, his 22nd of the year, as he remains second in series points. After nursing his car home on Saturday night, he again battled his car on Sunday night.
"I don't know if I had a left rear tire going down or what," said Saldana. "To come out of here with a fourth, I will take it and go on to Chico."
After just barely making it into the A-Main, after picking up the fifth and final transfer spot in the B-Main, Campbell put on a tremendous show, passing more cars than anyone else on the track, and he was closing on Saldana when the laps ran out.
"The car was set up awesome," Campbell said. "I could carry so much speed going into the turns to get up next to someone, and stay with them coming off (the turn). I just kept doing that lap after lap, and kept after people. I amazed myself. I was just cruising. I found a little line out of turn four and was able to catch up to them, and then get next to them in (turns) one and two. I never expected to be finishing up this high. It is awesome. I impressed myself."
Dollansky and his crew were left guessing a little bit on tire selection for the event on the spacious half-mile that had been soaking up the sun all afternoon long. They made a wise choice as he racked up his 17th career World of Outlaws Sprint Series win.
"The car felt good all night long," said Dollansky. "I am glad the race track did not take rubber, and you could move around on the track and use different lines. They did a great job preparing the track with the hot weather. It's great to get a win for the Karavan/Stone Mountain Access team."
Starting on the outside of the front row did not seem to worry Dollansky. He felt confident in his car that he could put it anywhere on the track and it would be fast. He also used a couple of strong restarts to bolster his advantage.
"The start definitely helps," Dollansky said. "I felt like we had a good car even if we didn't have the start, to be patient with it and see what happens. To get the start definitely helped out. The only thing there is choosing lines on the race track. I didn't know if the rubber if the rubber was going to come in or not. I just found the line and was able to maneuver very well through lapped traffic."
A mid-race red flag gave all the team an opportunity to work on their cars, and make adjustments for the final half of the race. Dollansky and his crew did very little to the car, as they were happy with how it had been running all night up to that point.
"I felt like I was getting a little bit loose and maybe we could have tightened it up a little," said Dollansky. "All in all, I did get a little looser towards the end of the race. We may have been losing just a hair, but I was just trying to run conservative as well. We didn?t change anything under the red (flag). Charlie Fisher just got this motor back to us and it is running great."
With the pace that he was setting, Dollansky found himself in traffic during many stages of the race, and had no problem weaving his way in and out of the slower cars.
"The car felt good anywhere," he said. "It goes back to having a race track you can do that on. When the track rubbers up like it did last night, it makes it tough because you really only have one line. Tonight you could hit the bottom, the middle, and the top. You could really move around the track. I definitely felt like we could work lapped traffic pretty decent, and a lot of times that is what can dictate a race. I was glad we got through it ok."
With another win on a half-mile under his belt, he now has four wins on tracks that size, including a preliminary feature win. In addition to this, he has won at Tri-State (Ind.) Speedway back in April, which is a high-banked quarter-mile, similar to Silver Dollar Speedway where the series heads this weekend to take part in the 53rd Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions.
"Chico (Silver Dollar Speedway) is definitely one of my favorite tracks," Dollansky said. "I always look forward to going there. Going from a big track to a short track, there are a lot of differences. We'll go in there feeling really good about this race team. We had been stuck on thirds for a while, and to get a win tonight is great. We'll just try to win some races down the stretch and get ourselves situated going into 2007 a lot better off than we did going into this year."
Lasoski, who was looking for a weekend sweep after winning the preliminary feature, on Saturday night, started his Sunday off on a high note, winning the dash to earn the pole position for the A-Feature. After coming up just inches short at the finish line, he was very philosophical in his assessment of the night.
"We changed air pressure and added fuel (under the red)," said Lasoski. "I needed to have longer runs. We got beat, that?s just how you look at. When you get beat, you get beat."
While Schatz wanted to be standing in RacinSoles Victory Lane on Sunday night, he learned a few things that he can take with him to Silver Dollar Speedway as he seeks a second Gold Cup win.
"If our race car is like how it was tonight at Chico, we will be good there," Schatz said. "It's rolling into the corner real well and turning pretty good. Chico is one of those places where it can get hooky and fast. It's a great event. We get to go to the 'Chili Feed,' and there are always a lot of good cars. A lot of people come to that, and we?re excited to go there. Hopefully we can come out of there with the Gold Cup and add another one to the list."
Saldana, who ran third for the majority of the early part of the race, staged an exciting battle with Schatz as the pair looked for the third spot.
"The race with Donny (Schatz), I was just trying to hold my own," Saldana said. "He was clearly faster than me. If I hit my lines right and stayed in the throttle, I could run with him."
Saldana is looking forward to making the trip north to Silver Dollar Speedway, as he looks to match his $50,000 triumph earlier this season at the Kings Royal, with a win in the Gold Cup.
"You just have to have your stuff working," Saldana said. "Chico is a place where you do not have to be perfect. You can make up some as a driver. These days, everyone is so tough that you have to be on it as a driver, and with everything if you want to run up front with these guys."
Campbell who is second in the battle for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt, scored his third top-five finish of the season coming home in fifth. He had a simple plan when the red flag flew at the mid-point of the race.
"We put a little more fuel in (to start with) to add a little weight to the rear tires, to keep it driving forward," Campbell said. "The car was perfect. I really did not want any changes."
With his first weekend of racing in Northern California in the books, Campbell is excited to head to the Gold Cup. If it was up to him, the race would be tomorrow.
"Short tracks have been real good for us lately," Campbell said. "We have had a couple problems, but they have been doing good for us. We got the big half-mile here figured out and hopefully we can move ahead and do that at all the races."
Paul McMahan came home sixth in the Bass Pro Shops Eagle. Justin Henderson was seventh in the Jolt Energy Gum Schnee. Terry McCarl in the Big Game Treestands Eagle was eighth, with Jason Solwold in the City Wide Insulation Maxim in ninth. Chad Kemenah in the RacinSoles.com Eagle rounded out the top-10.
Next up for the World of Outlaws is the $50,000-to-win Gold Cup Race of Champions on Thursday through Saturday at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif.
CALISTOGA SPEEDWAY NOTEBOOK NIGHT #2
* FAST QUALIFIER: Becca Anderson paced the 23 cars in time trials with an AMB i.t.-timed lapped around the 1/2-mile semi-banked oval at 17.161 seconds at 104.889 mph. Because the harvest Classic is a multi-day show with varying championship point totals on each night, no qualifying bonus points are awarded.
* QUALIFYING EVENT WINNERS: Heat race winners included: Brent Kaeding, Donny Schatz, and Daryn Pittman. Jason Martin won the B-Main. Danny Lasoski picked up the win in the dash.
* FEATURE WINNERS: There have been 14 different winners in 46 A-feature events to visit the RacinSoles Victory Lane with the World of Outlaws this season. The win list includes: Donny Schatz (March 9 at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 31 at Batesville Speedway, April 1 at I-55 Raceway, May 16 at Grandview Speedway, May 30 at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park, June 18 at Red River Valley Speedway, June 30 at 81 Speedway, July 18 at Lernerville Speedway, July 23 at Lebanon Valley Speedway, July 25 at Fulton Speedway, August 5 at K-C Raceway, and August 17 at Black Hills Speedway), Joey Saldana (Feb.10 at Volusia, June 4 at Terre Haute, June 23 at Knoxville Raceway, July 1 at Dodge City Raceway Park, July 13 at Limaland Motorsports Park, July 15 at Eldora Speedway, and August 4 at Eldora Speedway), Jac Haudenschild (May 6 at U.S. 36 Raceway, May 20 at Sharon Speedway, June 14 at The Raceway @ Powercom Park, and July 7 at Lawrenceburg Speedway), Craig Dollansky (April 15 at Tri-State Speedway, June 4 at Eldora Speedway, July 14 at Eldora Speedway, Aug. 2 at Butler Speedway, and Sept. 3 at Calistoga Speedway), Brooke Tatnell (May 7 at Huset's Speedway, May 29 at Orange County Fair Speedway, July 8 at I-55 Raceway, and August 26 at Skagit Speedway), Daryn Pittman (June 10 at Eagle Raceway, July 22 at Williams Grove, and July 29 at Princeton Speedway), Danny Lasoski (March 3 at Manzanita, August 30 at Southern Oregon Speedway) Terry McCarl (July 3 at Huset's Speedway and August 19 at Nodak Speedway), Sammy Swindell (April 8 at Eldora Speedway and March 10 at the Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway), Dean Jacobs (May 31 at Lernerville Speedway), Chad Kemenah (Feb. 9 at Volusia), Paul McMahan (March 4 at USA Race Park), Fred Rahmer (May 27 at Williams Grove), and Kevin Swindell (May 24 at The Dirt at Lowe?s Motor Speedway).