One Step Closer to the Gold: Craig Dollansky Wins Gold Cup Preliminary Feature Chico, CA--September 7, 2006 -- Craig Dollansky may call Minnesota home, but he has taken a great liking to the state of California over the past week. Last Saturday...
One Step Closer to the Gold: Craig Dollansky Wins Gold Cup Preliminary Feature
Chico, CA--September 7, 2006 -- Craig Dollansky may call Minnesota home, but he has taken a great liking to the state of California over the past week. Last Saturday night he scored a third place finish in the preliminary feature during the Harvest Classic at Calistoga Speedway. He followed that up by winning the A-Feature on Sunday night. On Thursday night at Silver Dollar Speedway in the first preliminary night of the Gold Cup Race of Champions for the World of Outlaws Sprint Series, Dollansky kept his Golden State hot streak alive, as he powered his way to a win.
Dollansky charged his way past Danny Lasoski on lap 13 to take the lead and then masterfully weaved his way through heavy traffic to pick up his second preliminary feature win of the season.
Dollansky started on the pole and led the first five laps in the Karavan Trailers Maxim. Lasoski in the Roth Motorsports Eagle dove low coming off turn four to take the lead on lap six, before Dollansky tracked him down in traffic to make his way to RacinSoles Victory Lane.
"It's nice to pick up a prelim win and hopefully put ourselves in a good position for Saturday night," Dollansky said. "The ultimate goal it to get that one on Saturday night. We've been close here the past couple of years, and winning tonight hopefully will put us in a good spot for Saturday."
Lasoski, the 2001 World of Outlaws champion, felt like he had a car to win, but got bottled up in lapped traffic a couple of times, including while leading. While disappointed, he knew that in the grand scheme of things he earned a good amount of qualifying points to put himself in a good position for the A-Feature on Saturday night.
"When you are leading, sometimes the lapped cars slow you down to their speed and that is exactly what happened," said Lasoski. "It was my fault. I hate it for my team. My guys work real hard and something like that should not happen."
Andy Forsberg knows Silver Dollar Speedway like the back of his hand, having turned countless laps on the high-banked quarter-mile. He wrapped up the track championship a couple of weeks back for the first time in his career. He followed that up with a very solid third place run on Thursday night in the preliminary feature after starting on the second row.
"I watch these guys on television and read about them in the magazines, so to be up there and start up there with them was a thrill," said Forsberg. "It was exactly what we came here to do. I tried to be a realist and knew that we were probably not going to win tonight. We knew were capable of a top-five finish. To finish third and qualify fourth, that should put us in a real good position for Saturday. We're excited."
Paul McMahan turned the fastest lap of the night in qualifying and used a fourth place finish in the preliminary feature to vault him to the top of the qualifying point standings, a single marker ahead of Dollansky. Though he calls Nashville home now, McMahan still enjoys coming back to his native state and racing for all the fans that were there when he started his career.
"It was a real good night," said McMahan. "We started off with quick time and we ran third in the heat race and fourth in the main event. It was almost a picture perfect night. It was not perfect, but it was pretty close to being perfect. That should put us in the top-two rows (for Saturday) depending on what everyone does tomorrow night. It's nice to run good in front of the hometown fans."
Mike Henry aboard the Circle Racing Wheels Maxim rounded out the top five after starting on the outside of the second row after a very strong run in the dash. His solid finish has him fifth overall in points after the first preliminary night.
Dan Menne came home sixth in the Ashley Furniture Maxim. Justin Henderson was seventh in the Jolt Energy Gum Schnee, with Brooke Tatnell in the Race Outfitters Eagle just behind him in eighth. Chad Kemenah who leads the battle for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt was ninth in the RacinSoles.com Eagle. Randy Hannagan rounded out the top-10 in the Penthouse Racing Maxim.
Dollansky started his night off by qualifying in the sixth spot of the 43 cars that took to the clock. He followed that up with a fourth-place finish in his heat race, to qualify for the dash. In the dash, he lined up on the outside of the front row and found his way to the lead, securing his seventh dash win and seventh pole position of the year. He knew that starting from the top spot would put him in lap traffic only a few laps into the 30-lap event.
"Lap traffic definitely can have a lot to do with the outcome of a race on a short track," said Dollansky. "Danny (Lasoski) was able to get us when I had to check up. I had a lapped car that messed up in front of me. I was able to get back by him when he got a little tight in turns one and two. After that I felt like we got held up a few times, but we were able to get through traffic decent."
Dollansky pulled out to the fast lead and with an open race track was lightning fast. When the checkered flag flew, he had lapped half of the field, and led 23 laps in the process.
"Our car was working pretty well," he said. "We made some changes after the dash and that got us headed in the right direction. It was a fun race and a good win for the Karavan team."
While Dollansky and his crew were happy to pick up the win, they quickly began to shift their focus to Saturday night and what it will take to walk away with the $50,000 winner's check. While they will not be racing Friday night, they will certainly be working.
"You're always trying to learn, and see what you can do better," said Dollansky. "We'll definitely be watching tomorrow and watch the race track. You have to have some luck on your side in a short track race as well. We'll just try to prepare ourselves as well as we can, and go in there and give it all we have and see what we come up with."
Like most of the drivers, Dollansky did not really know what to expect from the race track early in the night. Sunny skies and temperatures in the 90's had the track crew watering the surface all afternoon. It paid off in the feature with multiple grooves and two and three-wide racing.
"The track was beautiful," Dollansky said. "With the amount of water they put on, it takes a while to get it ironed in. The track crew here does a great job giving us a great race track all the time. I don't think you could ask for a better race track. You had a top. You had a bottom. You could move around the track and that is the type of race track that puts on a good show for the crowd."
Lasoski kept pace with Dollansky early on, including on a complete restart after a first lap red flag for Brent Kaeding. The native of Dover, Mo., patiently followed Dollansky for the first five laps of the race and then darted low in turn four to take the lead. He briefly pulled away before getting caught in traffic.
"Anytime you have a race track like this it would be good to have a caution (late in the race)," said Lasoski. "You saw the jump that (Craig) Dollansky got. He beat me and I don't like it. We'll see if we can do something about it on Saturday."
Lasoski racked up the third most points on the night to put himself in a good spot for Saturday night. Though he wanted to be standing in RacinSoles Victory Lane, he and his team learned a few things that they can use on the car on Saturday night.
"This is Chico," said Lasoski. "You never know what you are going to get. You just do the best you can with the conditions you get."
Forsberg was very proud of his night that started off by turning the fourth fastest lap in time trials. With points on the line for not only qualifying but also heat races and the feature races, the fan favorite from Auburn (Calif.) finished the night not only fourth on the track, but also fourth on the points sheet. He found speed on the bottom of the track in the feature and battled Lasoski a couple times for the runner-up spot.
"I like to run the top, and it was a little bit tricky tonight," Forsberg said. "In the main event I basically minded my own business and ran the bottom. I tried not to make any mistakes that would take us out of a position to score a lot of points."
He is confident that his knowledge of the track and its every changing conditions will help him and his team on Saturday night. With cooler temperatures in the forecast, Forsberg and his team feel like they will have a good grasp of the track and what it will take to be fast again.
"The track will probably be way different on Saturday, after all the races tomorrow and the early events on Saturday," said Forsberg. "It will probably be considerably different. We do have note from various track conditions here. We run here a lot, so that will help us out. The experience of running here all season will help. We'll take a little bit from tonight and a little bit from every night we have run all year and hopefully we can come up with something and be up front on Saturday."
McMahan started the preliminary feature in the fourth spot and battled Forsberg for the final podium spot before settling for fourth. Looking at the big picture, he was pleased with what his team learned and accomplished in 30-laps on the high-banks.
"Saturday night will be totally different from what it was tonight, because there will have been a lot more racing on it," said McMahan. "Hopefully it will be a little bit smoother and a little wider than what it is now. John and Alan Padjen do a great job working on the track. They can make it whatever they want, day in and day out. I'm sure they'll see what they did tonight and make it a little different tomorrow, and find a happy medium on Saturday."
The Gold Cup Race of Champions continues on Friday with a preliminary night for the remainder of the field. Points again will be accumulated to help set the starting field for the A-Feature on Saturday night that will pay $50,000 to the winner.
GOLD CUP RACE OF CHAMPIONS NOTEBOOK NIGHT #1
*SAFETY FIRST: Donny Schatz, the World of Outlaws championship points leader, the reigning Knoxville Nationals champion, and winner of the 2004 Gold Cup, escaped from a terrifying incident during his heat race on Thursday in the opening night of competition at the Gold Cup Race of Champions. Schatz's car was quickly engulfed in flames after contact punctured his fuel cell as he came out of Turn 2. The car came to rest on the backstretch in a blaze as Schatz twisted himself out and began to roll on the track. Drivers Brent Kaeding, Randy Hannagan, Brooke Tatnell and Paul McMahan leapt over the pit wall as the safety crews raced onto the scene to douse Schatz and put out the fire.
Although he walked away, Schatz was transported to a local hospital for observation. After being treated for first degree burns to the back of his neck, he returned to the track before the end of the night.
"I just want to thank Brent, Randy, Brooke and Paul, as well as the safety workers, for helping me out of the fire," Schatz said.
* FAST QUALIFIER: Paul McMahan paced the 43 cars in time trials with an AMB i.t.-timed lapped around the 1/4-mile high-banked oval at 11.689 seconds at 76.995 mph. Because the Gold Cup is a multi-day show with varying championship point totals on each night, no qualifying bonus points are awarded. Craig Dollansky holds the track record of 11.281 seconds established on Sept. 8, 2005.