Hillenburg Breaks Through at Eldora By Richard Day ROSSBURG, OH (June 2) -- Neither rain delays nor lateness of night could keep Andy Hillenburg from winning a Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series "A" Feature at Eldora Speedway for the first time...
Hillenburg Breaks Through at Eldora
By Richard Day
ROSSBURG, OH (June 2) -- Neither rain delays nor lateness of night could keep Andy Hillenburg from winning a Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series "A" Feature at Eldora Speedway for the first time Saturday.
Showers delayed the series' 88th event at "The World's Fastest Half-Mile" for almost three hours before Hillenburg's #2 Luxaire J&J took the checkered flag at 1:19 a.m. (EDT).
"I've been coming here since 1987, and I can't believe I finally won one here," Hillenburg said. "I want to thank Shane (Stewart) and 'Diesel' (Keith Carlson) -- they work their butts off on this car -- and the Hoosier tires and J&J chassis were perfect tonight.
"I really want to thank all the fans for sticking it out through all the rain tonight. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be able to do this."
Rain hit Eldora Speedway following the 37-car qualifying session and delayed the program for more than an hour. Inclement weather returned as the cars lined up for the Fourth O'Reilly Heat Race, causing a delay of almost two hours.
Hillenburg, the 10th-fastest qualifier, won the Second O'Reilly Heat Race and earned the right to start the 35-lap "A" Feature outside the second row by following Johnny Herrera, Jeff Shepard and Danny Lasoski across the finish line in the CHANNELLOCK Dash. Hillenburg passed Herrera for the lead with a slide move between the third and fourth corners late in the 31st lap and was a straightaway ahead when he took the checkered flag.
"I'm not sure what we'd had done if it would have gone green-to- checkered," Hillenburg said. "It really would have taken a toll on us. I didn't think I was going to be able to catch up with him (Herrera). Johnny was running strong out front, but I got a pretty good run on him down the back stretch and I barely cleared him down here (between turns three and four)."
Herrera won his first CHANNELLOCK Dash of the season and started on the pole. He drove Lonny Parsons' #6 Casey's General Stores Maxim into the lead as the green flag fell in the main event.
Donny Schatz, who started inside the fourth row, passed Steve Kinser and fast-qualifier Craig Dollansky during the first two laps and challenged Hillenburg for fourth place late in lap four.
Herrera was two car-lengths ahead of Lasoski when he entered lapped traffic three laps later. Schatz drove his family's #15 Parker Stores J&J past Hillenburg during the 10th lap and passed Shepard for third place deep in the fourth corner the next time around. Hillenburg took the low line through turns one and two to pass Shepard several seconds later.
The 13th lap proved unlucky for Danny Wood, who stopped Sher-Don Motorsports' #21W Pepsi Avenger on the back straightaway.
Kinser, who has won 23 "A" Features at Eldora Speedway in his Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series career, used an inside move between the third and fourth corners to pass Shepard for fifth place three laps after the green flag replaced the yellow.
Hillenburg started charging toward the front midway through the race, taking the high line around Schatz for third place as they headed into the second corner during lap 17.
Herrera was 15 car-lengths ahead of "The Dude" when he caught the backmarkers again during the 21st lap. Sammy Swindell and Tim Shaffer collided in turn one and hit the retaining wall several seconds later. Neither driver was injured, but their cars were unable to continue.
Lasoski challenged Herrera as the race resumed, but was unable to drive NASCAR Winston Cup star Tony Stewart's #20L J.D. Byrider Eagle into the lead. Hillenburg caught "The Dude" one lap later, and passed him with an inside move between the first and second corners.
Hillenburg was two car-lengths behind Herrera when they entered lapped traffic again with 6 1/2 laps remaining. Hillenburg caught Herrera in turn two within three laps. They raced wheel-to-wheel down the back straightaway before Hillenburg took the low line into turn three and slid in front of Herrera in the fourth corner. Andy built a comfortable advantage quickly and took the checkered flag as Herrera raced into the third corner.
Lasoski held off Schatz for third place. Kinser finished fifth, ahead of Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Mark Kinser, Shepard, Dollansky, Paul McMahan and Brad Furr.
Furr, who leads the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year standings, used a provisional to start the main event and drove his family's #2F Sanmina Eagle past 15 cars to finish in 10th place.
Jason Johnson spun Jack Elden's #22 Maxim and collided with former #22 driver Jac Haudenschild early in the opening lap of the Fourth O'Reilly Heat Race. Both Johnson and "The Wild Child" hit the retaining wall in turn one and flipped. While Johnson was uninjured, the safety crew checked Haudenschild for a possible leg injury.