HARTFORD, MI (August 6) -- Brian Paulus raced past Donny Schatz in the fourth corner on the final lap Wednesday before a record crowd at Hartford Speedway Park to win the first "A" Feature of his O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series career. Paulus...
HARTFORD, MI (August 6) -- Brian Paulus raced past Donny Schatz in the fourth corner on the final lap Wednesday before a record crowd at Hartford Speedway Park to win the first "A" Feature of his O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series career.
Paulus drove P and P Motorsports' #28 Verdeilli Farms Maxim around pole-sitter Jason Meyers with 1 2/3 laps remaining, then used a slide move in turns three and four to pass Schatz for the $10,000 victory. The $51,600 event was the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series' first in Hartford since 1996.
The 30-year-old racer from Mechanicsburg, PA, is the series' third first-time winner in 2003. Eighty-six drivers have combined to win the 1,638 main events the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series has sanctioned during its first 25½ years, including 15 in 48 races this season.
"With about five laps to go, I saw those guys (Schatz and Meyers) running single file around the bottom," Paulus said. "The traffic was slowing them up, so I just gassed it and hoped the cushion would hold us. It gave us a nice run down the back stretch, and I was able to get past Donny in the last corner.
"We were here in 1996, but we were so bad it's almost like we weren't here. My guys -- Joe (Wipperfurth), Gary (Ison), and Subway (Jordan Stine) -- have been working hard to give me a great race car all year long. Gary and Dawne (Pender) have kept faith in me and kept me out here on the road, and our sponsors -- Verdelli Farms and Arnold Transportation -- you can't get any better than these guys."
Nobody was better than Paulus Wednesday. He won every race he entered: the First Heat Race, the Second Dash Race and the 30-lap "A" Feature. Brian's sixth Dash Race victory of the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series 25th Anniversary Season gave him the privilege of starting the main event outside the front row.
Paulus raced wheel-to-wheel with Meyers through the first and second corners and down both straightaways before Meyers surged ahead the low groove in turn three. Schatz, who started outside the third row, drove his #15 Parker Stores J&J past Paulus in the low groove between the first and second corners two laps later.
Meyers was 12 car-lengths ahead of Schatz when he entered lapped traffic five laps into the race. Second Heat Race winner Craig Keel opened the track ahead of the leaders five laps later when he spun in turn four.
Meyers, who won the "A" Feature at Fox Ridge Speedway, controlled the restart and had Karavan Motorsports' #7 VMAC Maxim six car-lengths ahead of Schatz when he caught the back-markers four laps later.
Schatz caught Meyers in dense lapped traffic during lap 16, but Meyers extended his advantage to eight car-lengths the next time around with a daring move between Keel and Kurt Winker. Schatz and Meyers raced nose-to-tail through traffic again during the 20th lap, however.
Schatz won a back-stretch drag race with Meyers to take the lead midway through lap 22, but lost first place 8¼ laps later. Paulus pulled off the move of his career, ducking under Schatz in turn three, then sliding ahead of him in the fourth corner. The one-car-length victory gave Paulus plenty of confidence as the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series heads to Eldora Speedway for this weekend's Historical Big One.
"We've been good at Eldora every time we've been there this year, but somehow we seem to find the concrete every time," Paulus said. "I think with the momentum from tonight we should have a really good shot at $100,000 this weekend. You just can't get any better show than the World of Outlaws gives you. Beating these guys means you've really done something special."
Meyers finished in third place, ahead of Joey Saldana, 10th-starting Daryn Pittman, Paul McMahan, fast qualifier Steve Kinser, Danny Lasoski, Kevin Huntley and Kraig Kinser.
Steve Kinser, who took the lead in the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series point standings Monday, paced the qualifying session for the fifth time this season. "The King of the Outlaws" drove his #11 Quaker State Maxim around the high-banked, ½-mile oval in 16.240 seconds, an average speed of 110.837 M.P.H.
Lasoski, the point standings leader during 46 of the first 47 events, discovered ignition trouble in the #20 J.D. Byrider Eagle during hot laps. His crew replaced the defective ignition box before time trials, but "The Dude" still experienced problems and was only the 28th-fastest qualifier in the 31-car field. Crew chief Jimmy Carr orchestrated the engine change before the heat races and Lasoski responded with an eighth-place run from outside the 12th row in the main event.