SOLID GOLD: Steve Kinser earns his 12th Gold Cup Race of Champions title Chico, CA -- Sept. 10, 2005 -- Steve Kinser turned a golden opportunity into $25,000 worth of hard-earned cash on Saturday night when he fought off Craig Dollansky and Tim...
SOLID GOLD: Steve Kinser earns his 12th Gold Cup Race of Champions title
Chico, CA -- Sept. 10, 2005 -- Steve Kinser turned a golden opportunity into $25,000 worth of hard-earned cash on Saturday night when he fought off Craig Dollansky and Tim Shaffer to capture the 52nd Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway.
Just when it appeared the 19-time World of Outlaws champion was about to slip to third with Dollansky in front and seven of the 40 laps complete, a caution waved. Kinser, who started on the pole after winning a preliminary feature on Friday, had an inspired jump on the restart and raced past Dollansky in the first turn to swipe the lead on Lap 8. When Shaffer joined the mix after going wheel-to-wheel with Dollansky, Kinser slid his Quaker State Maxim up and down on the quarter-mile oval, forcing his pursuers to alter their racing lines.
Dollansky, who broke the track record and won the preliminary feature on Thursday, was closing again with Shaffer on his tail when the sixth and final caution waved, setting up a four-lap shootout for the money. On the restart, Kinser, who had been trying to make the bottom groove work, shot to the top in Turn 1, where Dollansky and Shaffer had been making up ground. That move by Kinser cut their momentum as Kinser then dove to the bottom in Turns 3 and 4, getting a powerful run off of Turn 4. Still, Kinser's 18th A-feature victory of the season and the 531st in his career was anything but a lock as Dollansky, in his VMAC/Karavan J&J, and Shaffer, in his Casey's General Store Maxim, continued to drive deep into each corner in an all out effort to catch him.
Finally, Kinser came off Turn 4 in front for the final time, popping his front wheels into the air to salute the packed grandstands as he took the checkered flag to win the 12th Gold Cup title in his career, topping the 86 cars that qualified over two days hoping to finish where he did.
Shaffer caught Dollansky in the final turn and beat him to the checkered flag for second with Donny Schatz in his ParkerStore J&J racing from eighth to fourth and Joey Saldana in his Volcano Joe's/Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Maxim driving from 13th to fifth.
Jason Solwold, who had a strong preliminary qualifying effort in his City Wide Insulation Schnee, was able to hang in the lead pack for all 40 laps and finish sixth, followed by Jason Meyers in the Elite Racing Team/Craviotto Drum Company Maxim, Jac Haudenschild in the Beefpackers Eagle, Paul McMahan in the Selma Shell Maxim and Brooke Tatnell in the Castrol/Steel Dreams Eagle.
Not that Kinser had been struggling at all, but the previous three times he captured a preliminary feature win and started the main event on the pole, he did not finish the night in victory lane. His win on Saturday was his first A-feature victory since his clean sweep -- quick time, heat win and feature win -- Aug. 16 at Red River Valley Speedway.
"It's been going on the last few races," said Kinser, a Mean 15 driver from Bloomington, Ind., who is closing on his 20th series championship. "And it looked like we were going to get second or third again but it all worked out all right tonight.
"I had to work the whole race tonight. I was struggling to get around the bottom. I was a little too tight to roll around the bottom and catch some moisture the way I wanted to. I got a little bit of a rhythm going. Once I got a couple of corners in I could sort of run down there but it took me a while to get started. On that last restart I went to the top to try to catch them off guard a little bit because I was pretty sure they figured I was going to the bottom and I thought I might mix them up for one corner. Then I just tried to hit my spots and it worked out well."
It worked out perfectly for Kinser, and with his last lap surge to second, Shaffer made pocketed $11,000, or a $5,500 bump up from third.
"That's a big, extra plus," said Shaffer, a Mean 15 racer from Aliquippa, Pa., who has finished in the top five in the past three A-feature events. "You race so hard and then you get rewarded like that. I've been in that same position. It can make you happy or make you really mad, but it was a great race all night."
Shaffer and Dollansky fought hard throughout the night, even banging wheels and getting air as Shaffer tried to squeeze through the narrow opening between the front-stretch wall and Dollansky's car when they raced under the flagstand together after completing Lap 18. Neither budged but neither wrecked as they raced side-by-side into Turn 1 before Dollansky pulled ahead and Shaffer collected himself for another run.
"Talk about dicing back and forth, and on a small track with a top and bottom groove you're always in the hunt," Shaffer said. "It makes it really exciting, and it had to be a hell of a show to watch. It was really fun driving from where I was. Me and Craig got together, and we're up on top of each other, we come back down like nothing ever happened and just kept going. That's what you can do when you've got a group of guys you can race with.
"We knew we were going to come together because neither one of us was going to lift. We both wanted that spot pretty bad. That's just hard racing. -- You don't worry about the car, you got to regroup to keep your head so you don't miss the groove where you're going to go top or bottom."
With Kinser still running out front, Shaffer tailed Dollansky along the top as the race went green from Lap 14 through Lap 30, which allowed Schatz and Saldana to enter the picture. Finally, Kinser's ability to make his car extra wide down the stretch left Dollansky and Shaffer to battle for second on the final four-lap sprint. Shaffer rolled along the top the final time through Turns 3 and 4 and drove past Dollansky to secure second.
"You look where they're not going and see if you can go good there," Shaffer said. "When he went to the bottom on that last lap, I thought I had a good shot at getting him. He got in a little hard and it made him miss the bottom a little bit and we got a good run."
Early on it looked as if Dollansky was going to run away with the event. At the drop of the green flag he drove away, but a series of cautions and a red flag bunched everybody back up and Kinser suddenly seemed to find some speed missing in the first seven laps.
"We were working okay there and Steve was working good, as well," said Dollansky, a Mean 15 racer from Elk River, Minn., who was racing a new J&J assembled by his crew on Wednesday. "Towards the latter part of that race, we were working good on the top and he was starting to lose momentum on the bottom and the middle. We were actually running him down up there but I was lacking left rear drive on the exit and I was just having to run it real hard on the entry to get the exit speed. You can only do that so long before you get tight and push a little bit. I lost a little momentum a couple of times doing that. Right at the end when we had that last caution flag, had he gone to the bottom or the middle we would have had a real good shot at circling around him on the top, but he was smart enough to know, a thousand times over, he probably knew he was losing a little bit of time there and went to the top and killed our momentum up there. I gave second away in the last corner going to the bottom."
Dollansky's battle with Shaffer was a classic hard-nosed, World of Outlaws wheel-to-wheel duel, especially when the two got together and kept on running.
"To be honest, I never even saw him," Dollansky said. "I didn't know where he came from. I just know we got together and fortunately we both came out of there in one piece. We're just racing hard and these guys are good, hard racers. You don't have to worry about the next guy too often."
Schatz, the defending Gold Cup champion who was using a harder-tire compound than the leaders, needed the long green-flag run to move forward. But with two late cautions, the leaders had clear track to work with, making it nearly impossible to catch them.
"Last weekend [at Calistoga] we passed Steve on an open track, but the surface was different," said Schatz, a Mean 15 racer from Fargo, N.D., who has six A-feature victories this season. "They ran real soft tires and on a long run we started going. They were coming backwards and we were going forward.
"We just decided to go with hard tires in case the track decided to lay rubber. It helped us on that long run. We were coming. We could run through the middle again. We made a few changes to the car that maybe were in the wrong direction, but it would still roll through the middle with the tires getting a hold of something."
Once he worked his way to fifth during the long green-flag run, Saldana was eyeing Schatz and Shaffer, closing on both before the late cautions let the leaders break away.
"We were pretty good," said Saldana, a Mean 15 racer from Brownsburg, Ind. "I don't know if we were as good as Steve, but I know Shaffer and Schatz were right there and I felt like I was as good as them. To go from 13th to fifth, I'll take it, but I've seen guys start farther back and win.
"I felt better the longer the runs went. [The cautions] kind of hurt you. When those guys got in trouble, I was there with Meyers and Meyers got his spot back because there was another wreck. And then a guy like Jason Meyers, you're not going just to drive around. There's another guy who takes four or five laps, if you're good enough, to get by. Once you get to that group of guys it gets tougher and tougher."
That tough road continues on Tuesday as the World of Outlaws next head east to Rocky Mountain Speedway in Commerce City, Colo., for a one-night Brownfield Promotions' event and then onto Eagle Raceway Sept. 16-17 for the 1/3-mile Short Track Nationals in Eagle, Neb.
GOLD CUP A-FEATURE NOTEBOOK
* World of Outlaws drivers entered the Silver Dollar Speedway grandstands following opening ceremonies Saturday night and helped to collect from the generous Silver Dollar fans more than $5,000, all of which is being donated to support those in need in the Gulf Coast region following Hurricane Katrina.
* The three-day Gold Cup Race of Champions used a unique qualifying points system, splitting the field over the first two days of the event before bringing it together on Saturday for the finale. Because of the format, the teams earned a flat 75 points in the World of Outlaws Sprint Series standings following the action on Saturday night. For the event itself, drivers earned a maximum of 200 points for time trials, dropping two points by position; 100 points in heat races, dropping three points by position; and 250 points in the feature, dropping four points by position. In the C-main, drivers who failed to transfer earned a maximum of 90 points, dropping four points by position and in the B-main drivers who failed to transfer earned a maximum of 150 points, dropping four points by position. On Friday, Steve Kinser was the fast qualifier, finished second in his heat and won the A-main for a 547 total (200-97-250), good enough for the pole in the A-feature.
* Steve Kinser's victory Saturday night was his series-leading 18th A-feature victory of the season. His win on Friday night was his fifth preliminary feature victory of the season. There have been 17 different A-feature winners this season. Including preliminary events, 22 different drivers have visited Victory Lane. -- Kraig Kinser captured the Knoxville Nationals on Aug. 14 for his sixth A-feature victory of the season. He also has a preliminary feature win at Las Vegas. -- Donny Schatz's victory on Sept. 4 at Calistoga Speedway was his sixth of the season. -- Jason Meyers earned his fourth win of the season July 2 at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, N.D. -- Tim Shaffer's victory July 19 in the Silver Cup was his third of the season, going with wins Lake Ozark Speedway and Thunderbowl Raceway. Craig Dollansky has two A-feature victories and three preliminary feature wins. -- Brian Paulus won June 28 at Huset's Speedway for his second victory of the season, and picked up a preliminary feature win in the following race at Red River Valley Speedway. -- Brooke Tatnell has two A-feature victories, winning at Cedar Lake and Fulton speedways, as well as a preliminary feature win at Princeton Speedway. -- Sammy Swindell won his second A-feature of the season June 4 at Eldora Speedway. Swindell also has a preliminary feature win April 8 at Eldora and Aug. 14 at Knoxville Raceway in the Nationals' non-qualifiers event. -- Daryn Pittman won his second A-feature of the season Aug. 21 at BMP Speedway in Billings, Mont. -- Danny Lasoski won Aug. 30 at Cottage Grove Speedway and has three preliminary feature wins. -- Fred Rahmer won the Summer Nationals crown July 23 and picked up a preliminary feature win in the Knoxville Nationals on Aug. 10. -- Single-event winners include Jac Haudenschild on Aug. 5 at Eldora Speedway, Stevie Smith July 13 at Attica Raceway Park, Tim Kaeding June 11 at Sheboygan County Fair Park, Chad Kemenah July 9 at I-55 Raceway, and Jeff Shepard Feb. 11 at Volusia Speedway Park. -- In preliminary features, Joey Saldana, Paul McMahan, Jason Johnson and Shane Stewart have each won once.
* Drivers who have raced to victory in preliminary features this season include (in alphabetical order) Craig Dollansky three times (Manzanita/Williams Grove/Silver Dollar), Jason Johnson once (Williams Grove), Kraig Kinser once (Las Vegas), Steve Kinser five times (Eagle/Billings/Elma/Calistoga/Silver Dollar), Danny Lasoski three times (Australia/Knoxville/Calistoga), Kerry Madsen once (Australia), Paul McMahan once (Williams Grove), Brian Paulus once (Red River Valley), Fred Rahmer once (Knoxville), Joey Saldana once (Lernerville), Shane Stewart once (Knoxville), Brooke Tatnell once (Princeton), Sammy Swindell twice (Eldora/Knoxville).
* The Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway is on a quarter-mile oval. The series has raced 10 times this season on tracks that size, including preliminary features. Steve Kinser won April 16 at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind.; Tim Kaeding won June 11 at Sheboygan County Fair Park in Sheboygan, Wis.; Kraig Kinser won June 14 at Kokomo Speedway in Kokomo, Ind.; Brooke Tatnell won July 29 at Princeton Speedway in Princeton, Minn.; Steve Kinser won July 30 at Princeton; Kraig Kinser won Aug. 3 in Lawrenceburg, Ind.; Danny Lasoski won Aug. 30 in Cottage Grove, Ore.; and Craig Dollansky won Sept. 8 and Steve Kinser won Sept. 9 and Sept. 10 at Silver Dollar Speedway
* In the B-main, Shane Stewart, Jonathan Allard and Brent Kaeding all raced away from the field. Dennis Moore Jr. and Kerry Madsen went wheel-to-wheel for the final transfer spot when suddenly Toni Lutar shot by both of them to steal the position on the final lap, meaning Lutar reached the A-main after starting the night in the C-main. After his inspired run to win the C-main, Kraig Kinser's night ended with an 11th-place finish in the B-main.
* After a rough qualifying night on Thursday, 2005 Knoxville Nationals champion Kraig Kinser started Saturday's program eighth in the C-main, but rolled around the top after surviving a hard collision with Jason York and raced his way to the lead by going around Toni Lutar coming off of Turn 4 to complete Lap 11. Kinser would survive two more restarts and transfer to the tail of the B-main along with Lutar.
* After a wild scramble in Turn 4 on the first lap of the D-main, Brett Rollag, Jeff Delte, Mike Monahan and Eddy Lewis raced in order to the checkered flag to advance to the tail of the C-main.
* In the E-main, Troy De Gaton raced to the checkered flag with Shay Oliver running second and Brett Miller third. Billy Cornwell had the final transfer spot locked up until he slipped over the banking in Turn 4 and smacked the front-stretch wall, leaving his car with severe front-end damage and Mark Tabor Sr. in the transfer spot.
* The Outlaws next head east Sept. 12 to Rocky Mountain Speedway in Commerce City, Colo., for a one-night Brownfield Promotions' event and onto Eagle Raceway Sept. 16-17 for the 1/3-mile Short Track Nationals in Eagle, Neb.
* The Outdoor Channel will air at 8 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 14 the Harvest Classic from Calistoga Speedway and Sept. 21 the Gold Cup from Silver Dollar Speedway.