Pittman Cashes in on Break in Winter Nationals Opener By Richard Day MESQUITE, TX (October 27) -- Joey Saldana's loss was Daryn Pittman's gain Friday on opening night of the 27th Annual O'Reilly Winter ...
Pittman Cashes in on Break in Winter Nationals Opener
By Richard Day
MESQUITE, TX (October 27) -- Joey Saldana's loss was Daryn Pittman's gain Friday on opening night of the 27th Annual O'Reilly Winter Nationals at Devil's Bowl Speedway. Saldana's premature start at the beginning of the Preliminary Feature prompted Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series officials to move Pittman to the pole from inside the second row. The 22-year-old racer from Owasso, OK, took full advantage of the break, leading all 20 laps for his second Preliminary Feature victory of the season. "That was the whole race right there," Pittman said when asked about exchanging positions with Saldana. "It seems like we've been getting the bad end of the breaks this year and having to go back a row. Finally, we got a little bit of luck and it went our way. Track position was everything tonight. Once everybody got strung out, it was tough to pass." The Devil's Bowl's semi-banked, 1/2-mile racing surface was lightening fast. Mark Kinser received his 24th Vivarin Fast-Time Award of the season after pacing the qualifying session with a 126.042- m.p.h. lap. Kinser will lead the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series in Vivarin Fast-Time Awards for the sixth straight season. The track was even faster in the Preliminary Feature. Pittman averaged 127.632 m.p.h. during his fastest lap (the third) and 125.930 m.p.h. throughout the race. Twenty-one cars finished on the lead lap as Pittman held off hard-charging James Chesson by 1.156 seconds for the $5,000 victory. Pittman, the sixth-fastest qualifier in the 48-car field was almost a half-second off Kinser's pace in time trials. Daryn won the Second NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race and followed Saldana and Chesson across the finish line in the CHANNELLOCK Dash. Saldana won the Third NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race and his ninth CHANNELLOCK Dash of the year. Pittman, who also won the Second Preliminary Feature at the Gold Cup Race of Champions, drove his #3 Chili Bowl J&J into the lead after assuming the pole position in the evening's main event. Chesson, the outside pole-sitter, narrowed the gap to .265 seconds with a 125.278- m.p.h. lap and followed Pittman into lapped traffic during lap six. Randy Hannagan, the last driver to qualify for the Preliminary Feature, coasted into the infield with mechanical problems two laps later. Pittman, the runner-up in the 1999 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year race, maneuvered through lapped traffic like a veteran and enjoyed a comfortable advantage throughout the final 15 laps. "Any time you can come here and race at the Devil's Bowl with this many cars, you know they're the best in the country," Pittman said. "When you can come home victorious, it gives you a lot of confidence. Hopefully, it will carry us over to tomorrow (Saturday)." Chesson, whose #22C Automotive Tire & Service Maxim burst into flames after he won the First NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race, beat Saldana across the finish line by .508 seconds. Defending Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series champion Mark Kinser drove the #5M Mopar Maxim past Fourth NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race winner Dale Blaney for fourth place midway through the 10th lap. After battling Saldana for most of the race's second half, Mark held off Blaney to claim the second row outside starting position in Saturday's CHANNELLOCK Dash. Mark, who started next to Sammy Swindell on the third row, closed to within four points of his rival in their battle for second place in the standings. Tim Shaffer finished in sixth place, ahead of Swindell, Stevie Smith, Dean Jacobs and Paul McMahan. Jac Haudenschild won the "B" Feature and drove the #22 fetchOmatic Maxim into 12th place from inside the eighth row in the evening's main event. WoO