Eldora Kings Royal race report

Kinser Captures $50,000 Kings Royal Crown for the Sixth Time Rossburg, OH -- July 16, 2005 -- By Chris Dolack, World of Outlaws Senior Writer The king has reclaimed the throne. Steve Kinser powered to the Kings Royal title Saturday night at ...

Kinser Captures $50,000 Kings Royal Crown for the Sixth Time

Rossburg, OH -- July 16, 2005 -- By Chris Dolack, World of Outlaws Senior Writer

The king has reclaimed the throne. Steve Kinser powered to the Kings Royal title Saturday night at Eldora Speedway, driving under Joey Saldana on Lap 30 and holding him off on four restarts in the final two laps to claim the crown worth $50,000 for the sixth time in his career.

Kinser, who is chasing his 20th World of Outlaws Sprint Series championship, is the only driver to start all 22 Kings Royal events. That knowledge helped position him perfectly through the unique qualifying format to start on the outside of Row 2. From there he chased down Saldana, the 2002 winner who started on the pole, and on Lap 30 shot under him in Turns 1 and 2 and survived a rash of cautions down the stretch to win at the intimidating high-banked, high-speed half-mile oval for the third time this season and the 33rd time in his career.

His victory also marked only the third time in history that the same driver won the Knight Before the Kings Royal and the Kings Royal. Kinser previously accomplished the feat in 2003 and Jac Haudenschild won both events in 1998.

Saldana held off Danny Lasoski to finish second, a remarkable accomplishment considering only a month ago Saldana was seriously injured in a three-car crash during a heat race in the Eagle Nationals. Haudenschild was fourth, followed by Tim Shaffer, Kraig Kinser, fast-qualifier Chad Kemenah, Daryn Pittman, Terry McCarl and Jason Solwold.

"We run awful good here," said Kinser, a Mean 15 racer from Bloomington, Ind., who won a World of Outlaws A-feature event for the 527th time in his career. "This has always been one of my favorite racetracks. I always enjoy racing here. We get around here good and we come here with confidence, and we needed to run good because we're still having a little bit of trouble. It's the same car I ran 20th with [Wednesday at Attica Raceway]."

In the early going of the 40-lap feature, Saldana quickly motored to the front with Tim Kaeding in pursuit. Kinser put the heat on Kaeding, who finished in the top-five in each of the previous three Outlaws races this season at Eldora. Kaeding pushed hard, going right up to the wall in the turns and carrying his momentum down the straightaways. But Kinser was running a groove lower and when Kaeding barely touched the lapped car of Kenny Jacobs on the backstretch with 12 laps down, Kinser was there to pounce and slide into second.

Saldana smoothly worked through traffic while his pursuers began sliding up and down the track trying to find a line through the lapped cars that would allow them to close the gap. Then Kaeding, still trying to regain second from Kinser, spun in the cushion at the top of Turn 1 to bring out a caution with 18 laps down.

The field bunched up, but Saldana had a huge jump on the restart as Kinser's motor didn't want to take off. With everybody in line behind Kinser, no one behind him could take advantage until they got to the flagstand and by that point his engine recovered and he again charged after Saldana.

"My motor wouldn't take off," Kinser said. "It just had a big stumble on it. I couldn't get it to take off, it was that bad. It's not too bad if you're in the lead because you can sort of carry a fast pace and get on it, but if you're choked in behind somebody it kills you. You can't lean back and get runs on anybody. This is not a good place to not have a motor take off because you can do a lot of passing on restarts in the first corner. We've won a lot of races being able to do that, just get on them coming off of Turn 4 on the starts and run underneath and back in front of them going into Turn 1. I couldn't even keep up to get that opportunity."

Only three laps later the caution waved again, this time for Greg Wilson who hit debris that tore apart the right side panel of his car. Officials decided to throw the red flag and allow teams to refuel and check over their cars.

Kinser had a much smoother restart this time around and didn't let Saldana get too far away, but kept Lasoski and Haudenschild behind him at the same time. Kinser closed quick on Lap 26 but couldn't make a move. Finally, coming off of Turn 4 on Lap 29 Kinser decided to take chance. Going into Turn 1 on Lap 30 he cut to the bottom as Saldana maintained his line near the top of the track. Kinser slid through the turns and emerged in front down the backstretch. He made it stick at the line to lead Lap 31.

"I had a long enough run I could start running Joey back in a little bit," Kinser said. "He would get a little bit loose. I actually got to running above the cushion in Turn 3 and coming back across that rough stuff [in Turn 4] and caught him a little bit, but it was just so rough back across there I felt it was going to tear the lines or the oil pan off it because it was grabbing stuff so hard. I stayed off of it after that."

"Just when I came off of Turn 4, I was actually back about a car length and a half farther than what I wanted to be, but I was close enough I figured I better take a chance right then."

Lasoski looked at a lower groove, too, but Saldana held him off as Shaffer caught Haudenschild and joined the hunt.

Then just as Kinser was coming to take the white flag, Donny Schatz, who had powered through the field from 21st into the top 10, shredded a right rear in Turns 3 and 4 bringing out a caution, setting up a green-white-checkered finish.

On the restart, Kinser had a little extra cushion of two lapped cars between him and Saldana, but Tatnell had trouble coming off of Turn 4 and wound up in the front stretch wall just past the exit of the fourth turn, bringing out another caution.

Again, Kinser was forced to power back up and lead the field to the white flag, but this time Sammy Swindell had trouble in Turn 4, bringing out yet another caution and keeping the huge crowd in suspense.

Adding to the drama, the lapped cars were no longer a factor as Saldana pulled up right onto Kinser's bumper as they circled the track under caution. Saldana would have only one shot at Kinser this time around as Eldora's rules called for the green and white flags to wave together, signifying one lap would decide who went home with the $50,000 check.

The only chance for Saldana, Lasoski, Haudenschild or Shaffer was if Kinser's motor struggled to regain speed, but he cranked up his nearly 900-horsepower machine quickly and made it as wide as possible into Turn 1, completing the final circuit to take the checkered flag.

"It's sometimes unbelievable," said Bob Kinser, Steve's father and a legendary racer in his own right. "He never gives up. He can read a track so good it's just unbelievable anybody can do as good as he can. You can't count Steve out until it's over."

Kinser's success also is a credit to his team, led by crew chief Scott Gerkin.

"From our standpoint, it doesn't matter if we're coming to win a race that's $50,000 to win or $10,000 to win, we try to go to every race as well prepared as we can," Gerkin said. "We had enough time while we were home to get a new motor together for up here. That probably had more to do with winning both nights than anything else."

A second-place finish for Saldana after he led the first 30 laps was understandably frustrating, but a month after a bumper from another car entered his cockpit and caught him in the head, giving him a concussion and forcing him to miss a couple of weeks of competition, his run at Eldora was remarkable even if he believes otherwise.

"It was my own fault," said Saldana, the 1996 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year. "On one of those restarts I got into the front straightaway wall and I bent my right rear wheel and knocked my Jacob's ladder clean off. I was just hanging on then. I cost myself that race. He slipped me hard to win it, but he's going for $50,000. When you're out front like that and you've got a good car, you can't screw up and I screwed up and cost myself the race."

"It seems like when my car is off a little bit I struggle with it. I think I'm a little gun-shy right now. There's been some races where we've been either really good or really bad. I've got to get my car right because I don't really feel like I'm in the right spot to carry it or make up for what I got. Tonight we had a good car and I lost the race for my guys."

Lasoski's third-place run as the Month of Money picks up steam was his best finish since finishing fourth in June 4 at Eldora. It had his team and car owner, Tony Stewart, who also owns Eldora, believing they're on the right path.

"It's been a terrible year by our standards, but we're here at Big T's place and we were right there in the top three," said Lasoski, the 2001 series champion who is sixth in points this season. "I could see the lead for the whole race. Steve did a great job, my hat's off to him."

Lasoski had been trying moving around on the track, trying to find a way around the top two cars when the open red flag allowed crews onto the track to refuel and make adjustments to their cars.

"We didn't need the red because the longer the run the better our car was and we didn't need these guys to stop and rest and work on their stuff and all," Lasoski said. "But I'm very proud of Paul Kistler, who worked his tail off on these Mopar engines."

The strong run gives Lasoski something to look forward to when the series rolls into Knoxville Raceway in August for the $140,000-to-win Nationals, an event he's won four times.

"This [motor] is Paul Kistler's new creation, so I hope we'll continue to run well," Lasoski said. "This is the only time I've been able to see the lead all year."

The Outlaws roll Tuesday into Lernerville Speedway for the $30,000-to-win Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup and July 21-23 to Williams Grove Speedway for the $20,000-to-win Summer Nationals.

THE MARCH TO THE MEAN 15 Because the Kings Royal ran a special format, the race did not count toward the March to the Mean 15 featuring Brooke Tatnell, Shane Stewart, Terry McCarl and Jason Solwold. Those four racers will conclude their battle for the final spot in the elite group of sprint car racers Tuesday night in the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway. On Friday at Eldora, Tatnell extended his advantage with a sixth-place finish in the A-main. Tatnell has been the top-finishing racer in each of the events in the March. McCarl maintained second place with a 14th-place run after pacing the field in time trials. Stewart finished 17th in the feature to hold onto third place while Solwold missed the A-main in the 51-car field.

On Tuesday, Tatnell needs only to start the A-main to win the March no matter how any of the other three drivers fare.

KINGS ROYAL NOTEBOOK - Steve Kinser is expected to appear tonight between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. on SPEED Channel's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain.

The format for the Kings Royal included six 8-lap heats where the fast four qualifiers were inverted and the top three finishers advanced to the A-main. The two fastest qualifiers who failed to transfer out of their heats were automatically inserted into the 19th and 20th starting positions in the A-main grid. Then, the three fastest cars that failed to advance out of the heats were sent to the B-main, with the next three fastest cars going to the C-main. In the C-main, the top five finishers advanced to the B-main. The top four finishers in the B-main advanced to the main event.

The change in the racing format for the Kings Royal meant all teams received 75 points in the World of Outlaws Sprint Series championship standings, thereby putting the focus on the battle for the $50,000 for winning rather than their ranking within the series.

Steve Kinser earned his series-leading 14th A-feature victory Saturday night by winning the Kings Royal. Kinser also has a preliminary feature win this season in the Eagle Nationals at Eagle Raceway. When Stevie Smith took the checkered flag Wednesday night at Attica Raceway Park, he became the 14th different A-feature winner this season. Kraig Kinser won his fourth A-feature of the season in June at Knoxville Raceway.

He also has a preliminary feature win at Las Vegas. Jason Meyers earned his fourth win of the season July 2 at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, N.D. Donny Schatz also has four A-feature victories, at Parramatta, Las Vegas and Houston and Joliet, Ill. Brian Paulus won June 28 at Huset's Speedway for his second victory of the season. Tim Shaffer picked up his second win of the season May 6 at Lake Ozark 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. Craig Dollansky has won two features, most recently at Powercom Park, and he also has two preliminary feature wins.

Single-event winners include Tim Kaeding June 11 at Sheboygan County Fair Park, Daryn Pittman April 23 at 81 Speedway in Wichita, Brooke Tatnell July 4 at Cedar Lake Speedway, Chad Kemenah July 9 at I-55 Raceway, and Jeff Shepard Feb. 11 at Volusia Speedway Park. In Preliminary Features, Danny Lasoski has won twice and Joey Saldana has won once.

The race last night at Eldora was on half-mile oval. Including preliminary features, the series has raced 20 times this year on half-mile circuits with Steve Kinser winning six times (Volusia, Eldora three times, Knoxville and Williams Grove), Sammy Swindell winning three times (twice at Eldora, once at Hagerstown), Craig Dollansky winning twice (Manzanita and Williams Grove), Kraig Kinser winning twice (Las Vegas, Knoxville), Jason Meyers winning twice (Granite City and Red River Valley), Donny Schatz winning twice (Las Vegas and Route 66 Raceway), and Brian Paulus (Red River Valley), Danny Lasoski (Knoxville) and Jeff Shepard (Volusia) each winning once.

In the B-main, the race for the final four spots in the feature and shot at $50,000 was a wild prelude to the main event. Thanks to Chad Blonde's spin in Turn 3, it took two tries to get the B-main started. When the race restarted, Jimmy Stinson charged to the lead followed by Jeremy Campbell, Jim Nier and Donny Schatz, who started 10th. Schatz motored his way through the lead pack, taking the lead on Lap 7 with a move a under Campbell. A lap later, Shane Stewart spun out of the final transfer spot in a wild three-car scramble in Turn 3, bringing out a caution with three laps to go. Schatz, Campbell and Stinson pulled back to the lead on the restart as Jason Meyers seized the final transfer spot.

In the C-main, Stevie Smith, Jason Sides and Paul McMahan shot into the first turn when Adam Zabonick took a wicked flip behind them, bringing out a red flag before a lap could be completed. On the restart, Smith charged back in front as Sides dove into second ahead of McMahan. As Smith drove off the to the checkered flag, McMahan slipped back in front of Sides on Lap 5 and held onto second. Sides finished third with Keith Baxter and Todd Kane picking up the final two transfer spots to the rear of the B-main. Defending champion Jason Sides wasn't

In the first heat, Brooke Tatnell charged to the lead with fast-qualifier Chad Kemenah sliding into second. Those two pulled away from the field, leaving Mark Smith grabbing the third and final transfer position.

In the second heat, Daryn Pittman led flag-to-flag as the blistering pace continued. Sammy Swindell and Tim Kaeding raced side-by-side through Turns 3 and 4 before Swindell slipped ahead, leaving Kaeding in the final transfer spot.

In the third heat, Butch Schroeder muscled his way to the front in the first turn and led the next seven laps, but Jac Haudenschild closed fast and dove in front in Turn 1 after taking the white flag. Haudenschild, a three-time Kings Royal winner, held on to win with Schroeder in second and Joey Saldana, the 2002 Kings Royal winner, finishing in the final transfer spot.

In the fourth heat, Phil Gressman grabbed the lead in Turn 1 and built a huge lead. Randy Hannagan charged past Danny Smith on the fourth lap to slide into second. Danny Lasoski then closed quickly on Smith, sliding next to him in Turns 3 and 4 and getting him at the checkered flag by 0.032 seconds for the final transfer spot.

In the fifth heat, Kraig Kinser and Greg Wilson were side-by-side into Turn 1 when Steve Kinser tried to sneak through the middle. The two leaders turned him back, with Kraig Kinser getting the lead off of Turn 2. Wilson held on for second with Steve Kinser grabbing the final transfer spot.

In the sixth heat, Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award contender Jason Solwold survived a mad rush in the first turn and led flag-to-flag. Kenny Jacobs, in his final year of sprint car racing, held onto second with Tim Shaffer racing into the final transfer spot.

Chad Kemenah paced the 50 cars that went through time trials with a lap around the 1/2-mile oval in 13.319 seconds at 135.145 mph. The Kings Royal marked the 19th time Kemenah has raced with the Outlaws in 2005. He has posted five fast times and has one feature victory. Craig Dollansky established the track record in a World of Outlaws Sprint Series race when he turned a lap around Eldora in 12.707 seconds on April 13, 2002.

The Outlaws roll Tuesday into Lernerville Speedway for the $30,000-to-win Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup and July 21-23 to Williams Grove Speedway for the $20,000-to-win Summer Nationals.

The Outdoor Channel will air at 8 p.m. (ET) on July 20 the 17th annual Brad Doty Classic from Attica Raceway Park. The action from Eldora Speedway will air at 8 p.m. (ET) on July 27 and Aug. 3.

On Tuesday at Lernerville, fans will be able to enter the pits for a Meet-n-Greet with the teams from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., after which the pits will be cleared and only those with a pit wristbrands will be allowed to re-enter. From 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. there will be a tailgating competition with a live remote from Y-108 FM and radio personality Zeke will assist in the judging (prizes include a new grill). Time trials are slated to begin at 7:15 p.m. with racing at 8 p.m.

It might not have a wing on top, but one of the most talked about vehicles in the pits at all of the Outlaw races is the Segway Human Transporter. Tuesday night at Lernerville Speedway, a lucky World of Outlaws Sprint Series fan will win a Segway courtesy of Rush Racing and its entire race team during the main event of The Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup.

A Segway HT is a two-wheel, self-balancing personal transporter designed to take people anywhere they want to go, even a local dirt track. Many of the top drivers and their team members have been seen running through the pits or attempting the famous slide jobs on each other. Now one lucky fan will get their chance to experience the thrill of a Segway. -- Fans can pick up a ticket for the drawing at the Rush Racing Apparel trailer just outside the entrance to the stands. Tickets will be available during the fan appreciation and autograph sessions scheduled to take place between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Rush Racing, and a link to Segway, can be found on the Internet at http://www.rushracingsprintcars.com.

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Tony Stewart , Tim Shaffer , Danny Lasoski , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Sammy Swindell , Craig Dollansky , Kenny Jacobs , Brian Paulus , Brooke Tatnell , Daryn Pittman , Jason Meyers , Jason Sides , Joey Saldana , Kraig Kinser , Paul McMahan , Randy Hannagan , Shane Stewart , Greg Wil , Jac Haudenschild , Chad Kemenah , Tim Kaeding
Teams Williams