'Dude' Takes Points Lead With Preliminary Feature By Richard Day MESQUITE, TX (March 9) -- Danny Lasoski led the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series point standings for the first 10 events in 2000 while winning four of the first six "A"...
'Dude' Takes Points Lead With Preliminary Feature
By Richard Day
MESQUITE, TX (March 9) -- Danny Lasoski led the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series point standings for the first 10 events in 2000 while winning four of the first six "A" Features. Among those victories was the Spring Nationals at Devil's Bowl Speedway.
"The Dude" took a big step toward winning his third straight Spring Nationals title Friday by winning the Preliminary Feature when the series opened the 28th Annual O'Reilly Spring Nationals.
Lasoski, who followed Joey Saldana across the finish line in both the First O'Reilly Heat Race and the CHANNELLOCK Dash, passed the 1996 Rookie of the Year on the back straightaway during the 16th lap en route to his second straight feature victory. "The Dude" drove Tony Stewart's #20L J.D. Byrider Eagle to victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway five days earlier.
"I owe this all to my crew," Lasoski said. "They worked really hard over the winter and I couldn't do without them.
"You can hope it all you want to, but we never expected to be this successful so soon. These guys put in endless hours at the shop making sure we would be ready to run this grueling schedule. The bottom line is our focus is on the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series championship."
Lasoski moved past 1994 Spring Nationals Andy Hillenburg to take the lead in the point standings. Hillenburg, who has also won successive races this season, stayed within five points of first place by driving his #2 Luxaire J&J past nine cars to finish 13th.
"The Dude" paced the 49-car qualifying session with a 130.957- m.p.h. lap around the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' birthplace. He followed Dale Blaney and Saldana under the checkered flag in the CHANNELLOCK Dash for the right to start the 20-lap feature inside the second row.
Saldana, who set the single-lap record at Lanny Edwards' semi- banked, 1/2-mile oval 1 1/2 years ago, took the early lead in the Preliminary Feature with a high move around Blaney in the first corner within seconds after the green flag fell. Lasoski took the inside line past Blaney in turn three later in the opening lap.
Saldana's #17 HEM Saw Eagle was only a car-length ahead of Lasoski when they entered lapped traffic five laps into the race. A caution for debris took the leaders out of lapped traffic two laps later.
A brake problem in the #28 Verdelli Farms Maxim kept Brian Paulus from returning to the race. Johnny Herrera pitted so his crew could move his right rear tire out for better handling.
Saldana raced away from Lasoski as the green flag replaced the yellow. O'Reilly Heat Race winners Brad Furr and Stevie Smith were battling for sixth place when they collided on the back straightaway two laps later. Furr stopped in turn three, bringing out the caution flag.
Lasoski was unable to keep pace with Saldana on the ensuing restart, but caught him as they approached lapped traffic during the 14th lap. "The Dude" raced into the lead when Saldana hesitated behind Travis Rilat as they headed into turn three. Lasoski was .588 seconds ahead when he took the checkered flag.
When asked how it felt to race on the fast, tacky surface, Lasoski said, "You really don't think about it when you're out there, but when you get out you think, 'boy, that was a pretty good workout.'"
Mark Kinser raced into third place from outside the third row. Blaney claimed the final automatic starting position in Saturday's CHANNELLOCK Dash by finishing fourth. Tim Shaffer finished fifth, ahead of Craig Dollansky, Smith, Jac Haudenschild, Jeff Shepard and Jason Johnson.
Hillenburg, in danger of having to spend an early provisional, earned the final starting position in the evening's main event by racing into fourth place from inside the fifth row in the "B" Feature.
Jason Meyers, the 2000 World of Outlaws Gumout Series Rookie of the Year, made his debut in Junior Holbrook's #8H Eagle. Meyers, the 10th-fastest qualifier, passed three cars to finish 11th in the Preliminary Feature.