GOLD RUSH: Daryn Pittman Wins $50,000 Gold Cup Race of Champions Chico, CA--September 9, 2006-- After finishing second on Friday night, Daryn Pittman said he would give up not winning that preliminary feature if he could come back and win the...
GOLD RUSH: Daryn Pittman Wins $50,000 Gold Cup Race of Champions
Chico, CA--September 9, 2006-- After finishing second on Friday night, Daryn Pittman said he would give up not winning that preliminary feature if he could come back and win the 53rd Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions finale on Saturday night. He also said on Friday that he would drive 40 of the best laps of his life on Saturday night. He lived up to his word in the famed event before an enthusiastic crowd that were on-hand to see the World of Outlaws Sprint Series.
Pittman powered his way to the lead on the first lap going to the outside of Jason Solwold in the first turn. The native of Owasso, Okla., ended up leading all 40 laps to pick up the event record $50,000 winner's check.
Jac Haudenschild in the Wright One Construction Maxim made a late charge on the high side of the track and finished just inches short of a win for the second straight night. Haudenschild powered off the fourth turn and corralled his sliding car to cross the finish line just behind Pittman.
Pittman started in the second spot aboard the Titan Garages & Carports Maxim after accumulating the second most points of the 100-plus cars that took part in the two qualifying night programs that led up to the Gold Cup finale. In the first couple laps of the race, Craig Dollansky closed in on Pittman. A couple of quick cautions gave Pittman a clean race track, and he was the master of restarts all night long.
"This is by far one of the biggest wins of my career," said Pittman. "Chico is one that every sprint car driver in the country dreams of winning. There are only about 20 or 30 guys that can say that and our name is on that list."
Though Haudenschild was disappointed to not pick up the big check, he was glad that the fans got there money's worth and saw a very good night of racing. He thrilled them early on as he weaved his way up into the top-four.
"The car felt good," Haudenschild said. "We got there at the end, and just fell a little shy. We got up to the 21 car but just could not get him. We got there a little too late, and we just ran second."
Dollansky who won the first preliminary feature on Thursday in the Karavan Trailers Maxim started fourth and quickly made his way around Paul McMahan and then battled with Jason Solwold, who won the preliminary feature on Friday. Some contact between the pair as they raced down the front stretch led to Solwold getting upside down and seeing his night end.
"It definitely wasn't the race car we had here the first night," said Dollansky. "I felt like I was struggling the whole race. We came home third again, but Daryn did a great job. I was hoping for some help with lapped traffic and get a break somewhere along the line. I was struggling in lapped traffic as well. I guess we were a third place car tonight. Hopefully one of these times, we can get one of these Gold Cups."
Danny Lasoski was fourth in the Roth Motorsports Eagle, with Paul McMahan rounding out the top-five in the Bass Pro Shops Eagle. They battled tightly throughout the race, and Lasoski felt that he had the faster car of the two, but it took him until the last couple laps to make a move into fourth.
"It was real exciting," said Lasoski. "I would have liked to have seen us run more green (flag) laps and less caution laps. I think it would have been even more exciting yet. The number 20 car held us up, when he was racing with the number 35. He was where I wanted to be, and he was doing what he had to do. We cleared him on the last lap. I would have really liked a shot to have run with the rest of the field with as good as we were on the bottom."
McMahan started in the third spot and quickly found himself battling Dollansky before settling into fourth and staging an entertaining battle with Haudenschild. After scoring a top-five finish on the first preliminary night and backing that up with a solid run in the Gold Cup, McMahan had no complaints.
"We really wanted to pick up a win tonight," said McMahan. "We were pretty good. I don't know if we were as good as Daryn (Pittman). We may have been able to get by him in lapped traffic, but that would have been out only shot. We got up there and wrestled around with Craig (Dollansky) and Jac (Haudenschild). I got alongside Craig and he kind of pinched me down to the bottom like anyone else would do. I didn't want to lift and he didn't want to lift and it cost me a spot. A top-five is a good run for us."
The rest of the top 10 was Bud Kaeding in the Al's Roofing Supply Maxim in sixth. Justin Henderson aboard the Jolt Energy Gum Schnee was seventh. Donny Schatz used a provisional and after winning the D-Main and coming up one position short in the C-Main, in his first time back in the car since suffering burns to his face and neck on Thursday night in a horrific looking accident, worked his way from the 25th starting spot to finish 8th in the Parker Store J&J. Brooke Tatnell was ninth in the Race Outfitters Eagle. Chad Kemenah was 10th in the Underground Utilities Inc. Eagle.
For Pittman it was his fourth visit of the year to RacinSoles Victory Lane in World of Outlaws A-Feature events. He also has picked up the checkered flag in two preliminary features. While celebrating the win, he credited his crew with finding a few things to make the car even faster on Saturday than it was on Friday.
"I knew we were going to have a good car," Pittman said. "The race track was changing a lot. I knew it would be different than last night. It kind of moved around from the top to the bottom. My crew did a great job during the yellows to tell me what to do, as far as telling me where I needed to be on the race track. They gave me the car to win. Hands down, it was a team effort. My hat is off to those guys, they make my job a whole lot easier."
Pittman made one of the most daring moves of the race with just five laps left, diving below two lapped cars to put a little cushion between himself and Haudenschild just seconds before a caution flag flew. When the race resumed, Pittman had the advantage of a lapped car between himself and the veteran.
"Lapped traffic was holding me up when they said (Jac) Haudenschild just about got by me," said Pittman. "I don't know if we pulled away when we cleared him or not. I was kind of wanting to get in more traffic. I felt like our car would be better on the longer runs. You never know. You can get to the wrong lapped car and the can hold you up. It worked out perfect, I am not going to complain."
For the second straight night, Haudenschild was hoping for heavy lapped traffic on the tight and quick quarter-mile, but again it never really materialized.
"We had a lot of clear race track," said Haudenschild. "Daryn (Pittman) has been going good and he is tough in traffic as well. That's just the way it ended up."
Pittman put himself in a great position to win by having a strong qualifying night on Friday night and bringing that momentum right back to the track on Saturday. While he finished third in the preliminary feature, he set fast time on the night and had the second highest point total after the two preliminary nights which locked him into the second starting spot for the finale. He was able to use the momentum of being on the high side of the track to get a flawless start and be in position in the first turn to take the lead.
"We didn't win last night, but with over 100 cars we left second in points," said Pittman. "It was a great confidence builder knowing that we came out second best with over 100 cars. We earned the front row (starting spot) and we knew that was the hardest part. Not that these 40 laps were easy by any means. Giving yourself a chance to win is by far the toughest thing you can do, and we did that and capitalized on it and brought home some money."
While Pittman and his team will take a few days to celebrate the win, they were already thinking about next weekend's events at two tracks they know very well. The series heads to Eagle Raceway on Friday for the 1/3-mile Short Track Nationals, followed by a trip to Jackson (Minn.) Speedway the following night. Pittman swept the weekend at Eagle earlier this season and won at Jackson last year.
"There is no reason to stop now," said Pittman. "We'll go to Eagle (Raceway) and hopefully pick up another one and at Jackson (Speedway) as well."
With shorter green flag runs that he and his team had planned, Dollansky was relived to finish third. He was battling an ill handling car and showed his skill by keeping it pointed in the right direction and by running up front all night.
"Lap traffic can definitely make a lot of different things happens," Dollansky said. "For us it may have helped us (if there was more) and it may not have. I felt like I was trying to hang on where I was at. We ended up third and that what it is."
Lasoski, the 2001 World of Outlaws champion, began the race on the high side of the track and quickly adjusted his plan to take to the bottom as he raced his way back to the top-five after losing a couple of spots early in the race.
"When you look at Jac Haudenschild and Craig Dollansky and those guys, we know they run the rim around," said Lasoski. "Basically if I had a shot at winning, I was going to do it on the bottom. I just wasn't expecting the 20 car to stay down there the whole race."
Despite running in the top-four most of the race and settling for fifth, McMahan climbed out of his car with a smile on his face, amidst a large throng of fans waiting to get his autograph and pose for pictures.
"These fans have known me for 20 years," said McMahan. "From the time I was 16 until 1995 this was home for me. I raced at Chico every Friday night. I have a lot of fans, and friends around. There are new fans coming out as well. It is always good to come home. I wish I could have won, but we'll come back next year and just try again."
Donny Schatz kept the fans on their feet all night long and also got a standing ovation from them, as he returned to action after his accident on Thursday night. He used a last lap pass to win the D-Main. In the C-Main, he came up one spot short of transferring, and opted to use a provisional to take the green flag for the 53rd Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions. He was able to pass more cars on the track than anyone and at the completion of the 40 circuits. He continues to lead the World of Outlaws Sprint Series championship points as he chases his first series title.
"It was one of those weekends," said Schatz. "We had our fair share of problems on the qualifying night. Anytime you can't finish the night with the same car it's a rough start. We gave it our all. We came up one spot shot in the C-Main. The race track was pretty fast and we just couldn't seem to get a hold on it. We were lucky to have a provisional and be able to take it and get ourselves up to eighth. It was a good night. Every time we go out we have the 50-grand in mind. That's what we are here for. We came up seven spot short, but we were not as good as we should have been. I pounded on the cushion and it was a long race for me having to do that. It was kind of hairy up there. I'm glad to leave here with a respectable finish. It got the best of me the other and we'll go on to Lincoln (Eagle Raceway)."
The World of Outlaws Sprint Series returns to action on Sept. 15 at Eagle Raceway for the 1/3-mile Short Track Nationals.
GOLD CUP RACE OF CHAMPIONS NOTEBOOK NIGHT #3
* FAST QUALIFIER: The top 20 point earners from the two preliminary nights were locked into the top 20 starting spots in the A-Feature. Jason Solwold earned the pole position for accumulating the most points during those qualifying nights.
* QUALIFYING EVENT WINNERS: Mike Stallings won the F-Main. .. Robbie Whitechurch won the E-Main. Donny Schatz won the D-Main. .. Brent Kaeding won the C-Main. ... Terry McCarl won the B-Main.