Originally-From: Richard Day <firstname.lastname@example.org> Mark Kinser Takes Eagle Nationals Opener EAGLE, NE (June 21) -- There's something about racing in Nebraska that brings out the best in Mark Kinser. The defending Eagle Nationals ...
Originally-From: Richard Day <email@example.com>
Mark Kinser Takes Eagle Nationals Opener
EAGLE, NE (June 21) -- There's something about racing in Nebraska that brings out the best in Mark Kinser. The defending Eagle Nationals champion entered the 18th Annual Eagle Nationals with six "A" Feature victories at Eagle Raceway and four more at Nebraska Raceway Park (formerly I-80 Speedway).
Kinser closed to within one point of first place in the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series standings Thursday by racing to victory from inside the fourth row in the opening-night Preliminary Feature at the high-banked, 1/3-mile oval.
"I feel like I'm home here in Nebraska," Mark said in victory lane. "The fans here are really friendly and Craig Cormack has done so much to improve this place. He has great grandstands, the facility is state of the art and they've put some asphalt down in the pits. Every every time we come here, something's changed for the better.
"We still have a long way to go (to win his fifth Eagle Nationals title), but we needed to win tonight. My batting average hasn't been that good lately, and I figured I'd better go out and do something about it tonight."
Stevie Smith, still ailing from Tuesday's crash at State Fair Speedway, climbed from his #19 Ingersoll-Rand Maxim slowly after winning the CHANNELLOCK Dash. His third CHANNELLOCK Dash victory of the season gave him the privilege of starting the 30-lap feature on the pole.
Smith burst into the lead as the green flag fell in the evening's main event. First O'Reilly Heat Race winner Joey Saldana drove Dennis Roth's #83 Beef Packers Eagle into the low groove between the first and second corners to pass Andy Hillenburg for third place early in the opening lap.
Smith held a comfortable 1.2-second advantage over Donny Schatz when he entered lapped traffic four laps into the race. Schatz caught Smith within a lap, however, and challenged him for the lead in turns three and four.
Jeff Shepard, Eagle Raceway's single-lap record holder, flipped the #5 Wirtgen Maxim on the front straightaway early in the ninth lap. Shepard's crew, led by car owner Guy Forbrook, repaired the car during the red period, allowing him to restart at the rear of the field.
Brad Furr and Kinser raced past Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Danny Lasoski for fifth and sixth place as race resumed. Kinser continued his run to the front during the next three laps, passing Furr, Craig Dollansky, Saldana and Schatz. After passing Schatz deep in the second corner early in the 15th lap, the series' two-time champion used an inside move through turns three and four to pass Smith for the lead several seconds later.
Smith regained first place the next time around, passing Kinser deep in the fourth corner. Kinser chased Smith for five laps before pulling off the winning pass with a similar move in turn four.
Smith steered his #19 into the high groove and caught Kinser in the third corner as they headed for the checkered flag. They raced wheel-to-wheel through turn four, but Smith slid over the rim of the track trying to maneuver around Kasey Kahne, allowing Saldana and Dollansky to pass him. Kinser took the checkered flag with .4 seconds to spare.
"Stevie Smith is a driver who doesn't make very many mistakes," Kinser said, "but he got his left side wheels into the crumbs of dirt down there by the berm, and it slid him out of the groove just a little bit (midway through the race). I really didn't think I'd be able to get back by him after he took the lead back."
Smith finished in fourth place, ahead of Hillenburg, Furr, 13th- starting Johnny Herrera, Steve Kinser, Schatz and Danny Wood.
Steve Kinser, winner of 11 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series "A" Features at Eagle Raceway, made up for a disappointing qualifying run by racing into eighth place from outside the 10th row.
Wood, who paced the 38-car qualifying session with a 99.626-m.p.h. lap, also won the "B" Feature.
TNN: The National Network will televise Friday's preliminary racing program live, starting at 9 p.m. (EDT).