Steve Kinser Soars to 1/3-mile Short Track Nationals Title at Eagle Raceway Eagle, NE -- Sept. 17, 2005 -- Steve Kinser first fought off Joey Saldana and then held off Daryn Pittman in traffic to win the 1/3-mile Short Track Nationals title on...
Steve Kinser Soars to 1/3-mile Short Track Nationals Title at Eagle Raceway
Eagle, NE -- Sept. 17, 2005 -- Steve Kinser first fought off Joey Saldana and then held off Daryn Pittman in traffic to win the 1/3-mile Short Track Nationals title on Saturday night at O'Reilly Auto Parts Eagle Raceway.
Kinser started on the pole, locked his Quaker State Maxim into the bottom groove and pushed through traffic to lead all 40 laps and clinch his 19th A-feature win of the season, worth $12,000. It also was the fourth time this year he visited Victory Lane at Eagle Raceway, sweeping both World of Outlaws Sprint Series events on the 1/3-mile high-banked oval.
Pittman closed fast in his Titan Garages & Carports Maxim before traffic running on top and bottom made it impossible for him run down Kinser. Saldana rolled around the cushion early on in the Volcano Joe's/Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Maxim, but with the final 31 laps under green conditions Pittman was able to slide under Saldana in Turn 2 just past the halfway mark and hold him off to the finish.
Jason Meyers started eighth in the Elite Landscaping Maxim and worked his way through heavy traffic to finish fourth with Brooke Tatnell hanging onto to secure fifth in the Castol/Steel Dreams Eagle despite his right hand being in a cast after it was broken in a heat race two weeks ago at Calistoga.
Kraig Kinser was sixth in the Remy Maxim, followed by Danny Lasoski in the Bass Pro Shops Eagle, Jason Sides in the Wetherington Tractor Services Maxim, Sammy Swindell in the Wirtgen/Jackpot Junction Casino Maxim and Donny Schatz in the ParkerStore J&J. For Sides, it his third top-10 run in the past four A-feature events while Schatz recovered from an early incident with fast-qualifier Paul McMahan to charge all the way back through the field for a top-10 finish.
But this night belonged to Steve Kinser. He posted the 15th A-feature victory in his career at Eagle, but it certainly wasn't easy. After starting at the rear of the Stacker 2 Dash on Friday, he worked his way to third and eventually a victory on Friday. After winning the Dash on Saturday, he started on the pole and kept his car on the bottom as long as he could before hitting traffic that also was running his line.
Kinser adjusted quickly, especially when Saldana pulled even on the top and then when Pittman ran right up to his bumper. He moved up about one car width, just enough to force his way between lapped cars running on the top and bottom. Once he got through, the middle groove seemed to fade, leaving Pittman, Saldana and the rest of the field with little chance to run him down.
"You've got to work your way up front, that's the hard part about it," said Kinser, a Mean 15 racer from Bloomington, Ind., who has 532 A-feature victories in his career and is closing on his 20th World of Outlaws championship. "[Friday night] they drew a six pill which started us in the back of the Dash. We got up to third. The third row is a lot better than the sixth row. When you get stuck like that, you've got to gradually work your way up and try not to do it all at once. We got away with a win [Friday] that started us on the front tonight. The inside spot was the place to start, too.
"I just pretty much worked the bottom all night. It had some moisture down there. I started going into the middle of Turns 3 and 4 and the middle of Turns 1 and 2 to get some lapped cars, but other than that I just hung down low."
Knowing his car was so maneuverable made it easy for him to slide up the track in traffic. It also helped that the lapped cars were kicking up some dirt from the bottom and depositing it in the lower middle line he was racing.
"You can't run over the top of them," said Kinser, who last won both Outlaws A-features at Eagle in 1995. "They're down in the fast part of the groove and racing themselves. The car was working good to where I could keep a little momentum. I would miss it once in a while and lose a little bit, but when I'd catch it right I could stay with them and get a run at them and get back in front of them."
What has been most impressive this season about Kinser is his versatility, his ability to quickly adjust to changing track conditions. With crew chief Scott Gerkin, Kinser claims the team hasn't had to make too many major adjustments, which goes back to off-season preparation.
"It's hard to win four times at any racetrack," Kinser said after doing just that this year at Eagle. "It doesn't happen very often, especially with the group of cars we have. We've had an exceptionally good race team this year and we have a pretty good combination going right now. We have a good setup and it seems to be repeating itself every time we come back. We haven't changed a whole lot on our setups, gear-wise or anything. We just keep throwing it at it and it keeps working for us."
Pittman's car has been one of the hottest on the circuit in the past six weeks. In the past 11 A-feature events, he has nine top-10 runs, including two of his three victories this season. In the past week he has climbed from 11th in the championship standings to ninth and is only 20 points out of eighth.
"We had a good car all night," said Pittman, a Mean 15 racer and native of Owasso, Okla. "I've never been a good short-run guy. I'm never good in heat races, I'm never good on runs less than 10 laps. It seems like it takes me too long to get going and find the best part of the racetrack for my car. The longer the run went, the better we were. I normally like races to go green-to-checkered, it's just better for us.
"I kind of pulled up behind Steve and thought we were going to have something for him, but got hung out to dry there behind some lapped cars. He had a good car and he's tough to beat from the pole any day, but our car was good top, bottom and middle. We were able to move anywhere. It got better the longer the run went."
Despite having a car he could position just about anywhere on the track, Pittman still had to contend with heavy lapped traffic. Once Kinser pushed his way through, it seemed to tighten even more as cars on the bottom slid up about half a car width, blocking the middle lane.
"When you're leading, you hope it works for you but it can go against you, too," Pittman said. "I think it held [Kinser] up a little bit and we were able to get behind him, but we just weren't able to get by him as quick as we hoped to. He was just awfully good in traffic. It held him up a little bit, but I think he knew it was time to get serious and he got by them. He's tough to beat here any time he comes so we're happy with second.
"If we can finish the year up like this, it gives us a lot of momentum going into next year, for sure."
Starting alongside Kinser on the front row, Saldana was quick from the drop of the green flag. When Kinser stayed on the bottom, Saldana shot to the top and rolled around the high groove but he was never able to get a big run that could pinch Kinser to second. Still, considering that when the Outlaws raced in June at Eagle, Saldana was injured in a heat race on the preliminary night that forced him out of action for a couple of weeks, running third on Saturday was acceptable.
"From the get-go I was running the top and I think that probably hurt my tires," said Saldana, a Mean 15 racer from Brownsburg, Ind. "I put on the same tires Steve had on, but Steve never ran the top as hard as I did. I felt like we had the car, but to do what we were going to do there I needed one tire stiffer on the back and I think we would have been really good. It would seemed like the tires would get going, I'd get locked down, I'd run with him and I'd feel like I'd get to him and then all of a sudden it was like the car would just start twitching. Nine times out of 10 it's because your tires are a little soft. I was running the top as hard as I could. I think that was the thing to do, but everybody kind of shied away from the hard tires tonight. It cost me, but we had a consistent run this weekend and hopefully we can keep it up for the rest of the year."
Meyers, who is trying to hang onto second in the championship standings, has only finished outside the top 10 in an A-feature once since the Knoxville Nationals in August. Moving from eighth to fourth on Saturday gives him a 129-point lead over Craig Dollansky in the battle for second.
"We all kind of got bunched up there at one point," said Meyers, a Mean 15 racer from Clovis, Calif. "Pittman rolled right up on Steve and then we were all kind of there. I thought, 'Boy, we might be able to get something on him.' It was just hard to get through traffic late in the race. Both the top and the bottom were pretty even. For a little while you could get through the middle but that went away.
"We were able to go forward. We're getting a handle on our racecar and feeling a lot better. Going forward like that makes you feel better going into next weekend."
Tatnell's top-five run was all the more impressive considering the pain he must endure with his broken right hand. Running 40 laps in the top five is hard enough without having to do it with a broken hand, even if his cast was specially molded around his steering wheel.
"I was in a situation where I just couldn't rip from the top to the bottom," said Tatnell, a Mean 15 racer from San Souci, New South Wales, Australia. "The bottom just worked my hand too hard. That's part of the reason I stayed on the top."
After the 1/3-mile Short Track Nationals at Eagle Raceway, the Outlaws invade Jackson Speedway on Sept. 23 in Jackson, Minn., then return Sept. 24 for the second time this season to Powercom Park in Beaver Dam, Wis., and compete Sept. 27 at K-C Raceway in Chillicothe, Ohio.
EAGLE RACEWAY NOTEBOOK
* Paul McMahan paced the 28 cars that went through time trials in his Selma Shell Maxim with an AMB i.t.-timed lap around the high-banked 1/3-mile oval in 11.649 seconds at 102.910 mph. Joey Saldana established the single-lap record of 11.124 seconds on Sept. 20, 2002, and Paul McMahan matched it on Sept. 19, 2003. Steve Kinser, Donny Schatz, Joey Saldana and Daryn Pittman finished in the top-four spots in the preliminary feature Friday night and did not go through time trials or heats on Saturday. Brooke Tatnell was second quick with a lap around the high-banked oval in 11.704 seconds at 102.427 mph.
"It's a big thing on the second night to be a top-two qualifier so you can be in the Dash and have the opportunity to start up front," McMahan said. "Any time you're quick time is a good thing. [Friday night] we qualified 19th, you start in the back and there's nothing you can really do."
* An injured wrist forced Jac Haudenschild out of Dennis Roth's Mean 15 Beefpackers car on Saturday night. Brian Brown, one of the top 410 sprint car racers in the Midwest, replaced him but was unable to reach the A-main.
* Steve Kinser's victory Saturday night was his series-leading 19th A-feature victory. He also leads the series with six preliminary feature wins this season. -- There have been 17 different A-feature winners this season. Including preliminary features, 22 different drivers have visited Victory Lane this season with the Outlaws. -- 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. -- Daryn Pittman's victory Tuesday night at Rocky Mountain National Speedway was his third of the season. -- 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. -- 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.
* Eagle Raceway is a 1/3-mile oval. The series has raced 11 times this season on a track that size, including preliminaries, with five different winners. Chad Kemenah earned the first World of Outlaws victory by winning July 9 at I-55 Raceway. Steve Kinser won June 17-18 and Sept. 16-17 at Eagle Raceway and May 24 at Grandview Speedway, Tim Shaffer captured A-mains May 6 at Lake Ozark Speedway in Eldon, Mo., and Feb. 25 at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif. Craig Dollansky won at July 6 at Powercom Park and Feb. 26 at Bakersfield Speedway near Bakersfield, Calif. On April 2, Kraig Kinser won at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo.
* 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 six times (Eagle twice/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).
* Paul McMahan and Brooke Tatnell joined Steve Kinser, Donny Schatz, Joey Saldana and Daryn Pittman in the Stacker 2® Dash that made up the top six positions for the main event. Preliminary winner Steve Kinser locked his machine to the bottom and led each lap to capture the pole for the main event. Joey Saldana held off the hard-charging Daryn Pittman for second with fast-qualifier Paul McMahan finishing fourth. With a lap down, Donny Schatz slowed with apparent trouble in the fuel line and went to the work area. He returned to battle Brooke Tatnell for fifth, eventually claiming the spot.
* In the B-main, Kraig Kinser and Jesse Hockett went side-by-side into the first two corners before Kinser edged ahead on the backstretch before Wayne Johnson rode the cushion from sixth to second by the time a caution waved with two laps down. On the restart, Kinser stayed on the bottom while Johnson went back to the top and the two circled the 1/3-mile oval side-by-side before Kinser again pulled ahead and went on to win. Johnson wound up second with Craig Dollansky, Justin Henderson and Jason Solwold picking up the final transfer spots to the A-main.
* In the first heat, Terry McCarl started on the pole was building his advantage when a caution waved with three laps down. McCarl had a big jump on the restart and led the rest of the way with Brandon Wimmer, fast-qualifier Paul McMahan, Danny Lasoski and Kerry Madsen also transferring to the A-feature.
* Brooke Tatnell, with his broken right hand set in a cast that was molded around his steering wheel, powered to victory in the second heat, grabbing the lead in Turn 1 and cruising out of Turn 2 and into a big lead. Sammy Swindell held off Brian Paulus' advances to finish second with Billy Alley and Colin Northway picking up the final transfer spots.
* In the third heat, Tim Shaffer jumped in front off of Turn 4 as the field came to the green flag and held off Kevin Swindell in the first corner. Shaffer would pull away to win by 1.662 seconds as Jason Meyers caught and passed Jason Sides with two to go and Shane Stewart held onto the final transfer spot.
* After the 1/3-mile Short Track Nationals at Eagle Raceway, the Outlaws invade Jackson Speedway on Sept. 23 in Jackson, Minn., then return Sept. 24 for the second time this season to Powercom Park in Beaver Dam, Wis., and compete Sept. 27 at K-C Raceway in Chillicothe, Ohio.
* The Outdoor Channel will air at 8 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 21 the Gold Cup Race of Champions from Silver Dollar Speedway and on Sept. 28 the 1/3-mile Short Track Nationals from O'Reilly Auto Parts Eagle Raceway.