Herrera Dominates Eldora Clash Preliminary By Richard Day ROSSBURG, OH (July 13) -- Johnny Herrera, who won the 1996 Kings Royal, would dearly love to relive that experience -- and take home another...
Herrera Dominates Eldora Clash Preliminary
By Richard Day
ROSSBURG, OH (July 13) -- Johnny Herrera, who won the 1996 Kings Royal, would dearly love to relive that experience -- and take home another $50,000 check. Herrera returned to victory lane at Eldora Speedway Thursday when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened the Eldora Clash, holding off three-time Kings Royal champion Jac Haudenschild while leading all 25 laps. "Saturday night's the big money night, but we go out and race to win every time we're on the track," Herrera said following his third Preliminary Feature victory of the season. "We struggled pretty bad there for a while, but the last couple of weeks it seems like things have really turned around for us. My crew (Dave Whitworth, Tyler Swank and Cyndi Craft) has been working really hard, and I'm just trying to do as good a job for them as they do for me." Herrera, the seventh-fastest qualifier in the 35-car field, won the Third NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race then earned the right to start the Preliminary Feature on the pole by winning the First CHANNELLOCK Dash from outside the front row. Herrera drove the #20 Networks Eagle into the lead as the green flag fell in the Preliminary Feature. Haudenschild, who started outside the second row, passed First NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race winner Kenny Jacobs early, and used an inside move in the third corner to pass defending Kings Royal champion Sammy Swindell for the runner-up spot two laps later. Herrera was eight car-lengths ahead of "The Wild Child" when he entered lapped traffic during lap seven. He increased his advantage to 12 car-lengths within four laps. Engine problems in the #5M Mopar Maxim forced Vivarin Fast-Time Award winner Mark Kinser to stop in turn three late in the 13th lap. The caution flag fell, tightening the field. Tim Shaffer, who recorded his first Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series "A" Feature victory at Eldora on June 5, 1999, passed Joey Saldana for sixth place deep in the second corner as the race resumed. World of Outlaws Gumout Series points leader Craig Dollansky used a similar move to pass Saldana the next time around. Saldana came back to pass both Dollansky and Shaffer during the 16th and 17th laps, however. Damage to the front wing on the #11H Vivarin Eagle caused Shaffer to fade to 10th place in the final nine laps. Herrera held a comfortable 15-car-length advantage when he caught the backmarkers again with 4 1/2 laps remaining, only to have Haudenschild narrow the gap to only three car-lengths within a lap. "The Wild Child" was racing wheel-to-wheel with Herrera through turns one and two when the caution flag fell for debris on the track early in lap 24, setting up a two-lap dash to the checkered flag. Saldana claimed the final automatic starting position in Friday's Second CHANNELLOCK Dash by driving his #17 HEM Saw Eagle past Jacobs deep in the fourth corner with 1 1/4 laps remaining. Herrera was eight car-lengths ahead of Haudenschild when he took the checkered flag. Herrera's car owners, Craig and Linda Cormack, arrived at Eldora Speedway as he crossed the finish line due to a delayed plane flight. "It came down to a couple of choices for tires here tonight," Johnny explained. "We put on a little harder one, and those Goodyears were just about perfect. I didn't know how close he (Haudenschild) was to me before that last caution. I just knew we got caught behind a couple of lapped cars and it cost us some momentum." Swindell held off Saldana for third place. Jacobs finished fifth, ahead of Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Steve Kinser, Second NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race winner Stevie Smith, Dollansky, 19th- starting Brooke Tatnell and Shaffer. Mark Kinser received his 11th Vivarin Fast-Time Award of the year for pacing the qualifying session with a 134.912 m.p.h. lap around the high-banked, 1/2-mile oval. Engine problems in the #93 Amoco Maxim forced Dale Blaney to miss his qualifying turn. His 15.531-second lap was the fifth fastest, but he received credit for the 17th fastest lap because he qualified out of turn. He passed four sprinters to finish 14th in the feature. WoO