Harvest Classic Prelim report 2005-09-02

Steve Kinser Cruises to World of Outlaws Victory in Harvest Classic Opener at Calistoga Calistoga, CA -- Sept. 2, 2005 -- There are so many different ways to win or lose a feature with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series. On Friday night in...

Steve Kinser Cruises to World of Outlaws Victory in Harvest Classic Opener at Calistoga

Calistoga, CA -- Sept. 2, 2005 -- There are so many different ways to win or lose a feature with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series. On Friday night in the opener to the three-day Harvest Classic at Calistoga Speedway, it was clear pretty early that any driver who qualified for a spot in one of the first couple of rows would most likely wind up in Victory Lane.

Donny Schatz had the fastest car in time trials, but after he pulled the No. 6 pill that determined the inversion for the dashes, Steve Kinser, who was 11th quick, wound up winning the pole for the A-main. And when Steve Kinser, who is closing in on his 20th series championship, is on the pole on a half-mile track in his Quaker State Maxim, it's awfully difficult to find a lane around him.

On Friday night, Kinser never gave anybody a chance. With three cautions and red flag coming in about seven-lap intervals, he always seemed to have clear track in front of him because it would take four or five laps to catch the rear of the field. With each restart being single-file, and some with lapped cars between him and the field, Kinser led all 25 laps to win his fourth preliminary feature of the season. It also marked the third consecutive multi-day event that Kinser has won the opener.

Brandon Wimmer, 19, one of the drivers competing for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award, earned a front row starting spot in his Astro Titanium Maxim and powered his way around the half-mile to finish second for the best result in his career with the Outlaws.

Kinser and Wimmer raced side-by-side into the first corner before Kinser edged ahead down the backstretch and gradually increased his lead. Joey Saldana drove his Volcano Joe's/Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Maxim to a third-place finish with Paul McMahan in his Selma Shell Maxim and Tim Shaffer in his Casey's General Stores Maxim rounding out the top five. Schatz, who started 11th in the A-main, finished sixth in his ParkerStore J&J.

Jonathan Allard in his GT Trends Maxim, Daryn Pittman in his Titan Garages and Carports Maxim, Jason Meyers in his Elite Landscaping Maxim and Jason Solwold in his City Wide Insulation Schnee completed the top 10.

"I got in the right place," said Kinser, who has 530 A-feature victories in his career. "I don't know what I would have done if I had to start back three or four rows. I think I could have gotten by a few cars, but you never know. I was definitely good out in clean air. I had a good racecar. I would like to have driven out of Turn 2 a little better but I still wasn't bad. I was a little bit loose coming out of there. I've had my car standing up so much a few times coming off of corners I'm a little scared to tighten it up too much."

A strong motor is always important in World of Outlaws competition, but horsepower and aerodynamic balance are crucial at Calistoga with its long straightaways and tight corners. Then factor in a three-day event where points are tallied rather than times for the A-feature on Sunday so any bobble during the two preliminary days might make a shot at victory in the finale nearly impossible.

"It's a little different," said Kinser, a Mean 15 racer from Bloomington, Ind. "You've got to run some different setups with aero when you run a high-speed racetrack. You do a short track mechanically, soften it up mechanically to make the cars work. We had a good racecar. I was sort of disappointed with the way we qualified but it all sort of worked back out.

"I always hated these three days shows when you've got to run every night because it's the same old thing. Just one mistake out of weekend takes you clear out of the race. You just have to hang in there and get a good starting spot and hope everything goes good Sunday night."

Wimmer's strong run was not surprising when considering his performance during the past three events. On Friday, he earned a spot in a dash for the third time in four races -- including preliminaries -- and started on the front row for the first time since he won the pole in March at Houston Raceway Park.

"The last few races, it's all starting to come together," said Wimmer, a Mean 15 racer and a native of Fairmount, Ind., who graduated from high school in June. "The beginning of the year was tough but Joe Gaerte is out here helping us with Gaerte Engines, Mopar and Red Line Oil, and the Hoosier tires were pretty good tonight. I don't know what to say, it just feels great to be running up front finally."

To have a chance at Kinser, Wimmer and the rest of the field needed lapped traffic to come into play. But no more than two cars were ever involved, and they weren't much of a factor in the outcome given the timing of the cautions and the nature of the race. If anything, the traffic actually helped Kinser because on a couple of restarts he had lapped cars between him and Wimmer, forcing Wimmer to find a way around while Kinser motored out to a nearly 5-second advantage by the time the checkered flag waved.

"I was just trying to watch the track and run my own line, not pay attention to everybody else," Wimmer said. "I was trying to watch the lapped traffic and watch what they were doing so I could get around them easier when I caught them. It was a lot easier passing them when they help you out and go to the bottom because we were good around the top the whole way around the track. It was just a great night."

Kinser was impressed with his fellow Hoosier State racer.

"I've watched him run good a lot of times," Kinser said. "They had their car good tonight and he drove a good race and I was happy to see it. I've always been a good friend of his grandpa, [car owner] Tom Wimmer. They've never really asked me for any help or anything but I would do anything I could to help them. They're good people and I enjoy seeing them out there. It was great to see them run good."

Saldana's third-place run was his third top-five finish in the past three race nights. Without much lapped traffic to race through, he had little chance at catching Kinser even if he did advance three spots from his sixth-place starting position.

"It was good for us," said Saldana, a Mean 15 racer from Brownsburg, Ind. "We went out in hot laps and broke something in the oil system and it was just blowing oil out so I didn't even know if I'd get to qualify. We fixed that. Steve Shaver was helping us tonight. We just worked on it all night and we were making it better. On restarts it just wouldn't go but we'll take third and hopefully tomorrow we can do better."

Saldana had a close call in Lap 9 when Kraig Kinser appeared to have a tire go flat, sending him up the track and backwards into the wall in Turn 3. Saldana had been following directly behind him as they were trying to chase down Wimmer.

"I had a good start and I was really close there with Kraig Kinser," Saldana said. "We were trying to get by Wimmer. He tried to slide him and I don't if a tire went flat or what but he lost it and I was lucky to miss him. You've got to have some luck, but I'd rather have luck and win rather than have luck and run third."

McMahan, a California native living in Nashville, has had much success through the years at Calistoga and it was clear to see why on Friday night. He earned a spot in the Stacker 2 Dash and started on the inside of Row 2. He locked himself into the top five and held off Shaffer to finish fourth for his first top-five run since finishing second in a qualifying feature during the Knoxville Nationals.

"Calistoga is usually a lot slicker than it was tonight," said McMahan, a Mean 15 racer who was the Calistoga track champion in 1995. "It had a nice curb around it so that made it tough on passing. It was at a minimum tonight really, but any time you get out on a big half-mile and as fast as it is, just roll around, do laps and don't make a mistake, wait for the guy in front of you to make a mistake. I got in alongside Joey one time, but there wasn't enough room for two of us getting into Turn 3. The way my last month went, to come home and run fourth at Calistoga is a step in the right direction. This is a place dear to my heart because I've won a lot of races here. Hopefully in the next couple days I can move up a couple of more spots."

Shaffer, who finished fifth for the second consecutive race night, knows that his strong performance to begin the three-day event is a must to have a chance on Sunday.

"You get three-night deal that runs by points so every point you get is really big," said Shaffer, a Mean 15 racer from Aliquippa, Pa. "We qualified third and ran fourth in the heat and fifth in the feature. It's a good start. We need to have a decent night Saturday so we can have a decent starting spot for the final night."

The series completes the Harvest Classic Saturday and Sunday at Calistoga Speedway in Calistoga before shifting to Chico, Calif., for the Gold Cup Sept. 8-10 at Silver Dollar Speedway.

HARVEST CLASSIC NIGHT ONE NOTEBOOK

* Donny Schatz paced the 32 cars that went through time trials by turning an AMB i.t.-timed lap around the half-mile oval in 16.701 seconds with Terry McCarl timing in second-fastest at 16.785 seconds. Mark Kinser established the single-lap record in an Outlaws event by turning a lap in 16.016 seconds on Sept. 1, 2000.

"We're not really good qualifiers," said Schatz, a Mean 15 racer from Fargo, N.D. "To do that, the engine ran real good and the car rolled around there. It's a decent finish. It's pretty tough to pass at this place, especially in the top five or six and we never had a long enough run to hit any lapped traffic.

* A three-night event such as this weekend's Harvest Classic uses a unique scoring system. Teams will earn qualifying points Friday and Saturday, with the top four in qualifying points after Saturday's A-feature locked into the first four starting positions of Sunday's Stacker 2® Dash. The remainder of the Sunday field will be placed into heat races, lined up according to qualifying points with no inversion. Of the heat race cars, the highest two in qualifying points that transfer from the heats will start fifth and sixth in the Stacker 2® Dash. Starting positions 7-24 in Sunday's A-feature will be lined up according to qualifying points from the first two nights. No qualifying points will be awarded on Sunday. Also, teams can't use provisionals on either of the preliminary feature nights.

* Outside the entrance to Calistoga Speedway on the Napa County Fairgrounds, the Calistoga Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America are collecting donations for Hurricane Katrina relief. The drivers in the World of Outlaws Sprint Series and officials from DIRT MotorSports are concerned for all of those affected by the hurricane that hit the Gulf Coast, and especially those fans who came out in support of the Outlaws when the series raced in March at Pike County Speedway in Mississippi. In addition, the Abby Lou Foundation, a non-profit organization that lends a helping hand to families in paying medical expenses associated with the treatment of their children and is supported by Mean 15 racers Brian Paulus and Brandon Wimmer, is raffling off a custom Harley Davidson Chopper in support of the foundation. From those funds, $1 for every ticket purchased for the Custom Chopper will go to the Red Cross to aid in the Hurricane Relief Effort. Go to http://www.abbylou.org for more information and to support the causes.

* Steve Kinser's victory Friday night at Calistoga Speedway was his fourth preliminary feature win of the season. He leads the series with 17 A-feature victories. Danny Lasoski's victory Tuesday at Cottage Grove Speedway was his first A-feature win of the season, making him the 17th different A-feature winner with the Outlaws. Including preliminary features, there have been 22 different drivers to visit victory lane this season, including Lasoski twice. ... Kraig Kinser captured the Knoxville Nationals on Aug. 14 for his sixth A-feature victory of the season. He also has a preliminary feature win at Las Vegas. ... Donny Schatz earned his fifth victory of the season on Aug. 27 at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, Wash. ... Jason Meyers earned his fourth win of the season July 2 at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, N.D. ... Tim Shaffer's victory July 19 in the Silver Cup was his third of the season, going with wins Lake Ozark Speedway and Thunderbowl Raceway. ... Craig Dollansky has won two features, most recently at Powercom Park, and he also has two preliminary feature wins. ... Brian Paulus won June 28 at Huset's Speedway for his second victory of the season, and picked up a preliminary feature win in the following race at Red River Valley Speedway. ... Brooke Tatnell has two A-feature victories, winning at Cedar Lake and Fulton speedways, as well as a preliminary feature win at Princeton 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 and Aug. 14 at Knoxville Raceway in the Nationals' non-qualifiers event. ... Daryn Pittman won his second A-feature of the season Aug. 21 at BMP Speedway in Billings, Mont. ... Fred Rahmer won the Summer Nationals crown July 23 and picked up a preliminary feature win in the Knoxville Nationals on Aug. 10. ... Single-event winners include Jac Haudenschild on Aug. 5 at Eldora Speedway, Stevie Smith July 13 at Attica Raceway Park, Tim Kaeding June 11 at Sheboygan County Fair Park, Chad Kemenah July 9 at I-55 Raceway, and Jeff Shepard Feb. 11 at Volusia Speedway Park. ... In preliminary features, Joey Saldana, Paul McMahan, Jason Johnson and Shane Stewart have each won once.

* Drivers who have raced to victory in preliminary features this season include (in alphabetical order) Craig Dollansky twice (Manzanita/Williams Grove), Jason Johnson once (Williams Grove), Kraig Kinser once (Las Vegas), Steve Kinser four times (Eagle/Billings/Elma/Calistoga), Danny Lasoski twice (Australia/Knoxville), Kerry Madsen once (Australia), Paul McMahan once (Williams Grove), Brian Paulus once (Red River Valley), Fred Rahmer once (Knoxville), Joey Saldana once (Lernerville), Shane Stewart once (Knoxville), Brooke Tatnell once (Princeton), Sammy Swindell twice (Eldora/Knoxville).

* Including preliminary features, the series has raced 31 times this year on half-mile circuits with Steve Kinser winning nine times (Volusia, Eldora three times, Knoxville, Williams Grove, Hartford, Red River Valley and Calistoga), Sammy Swindell winning four times (twice at Eldora, once at Hagerstown and Knoxville), Craig Dollansky winning twice (Manzanita and Williams Grove), Kraig Kinser winning three times (Las Vegas, and twice at Knoxville), Jason Meyers winning twice (Granite City and Red River Valley), Donny Schatz winning twice (Las Vegas and Route 66 Raceway), Fred Rahmer winning twice (Williams Grove and Knoxville), and Brian Paulus (Red River Valley), Danny Lasoski (Knoxville), Jeff Shepard (Volusia), Jason Johnson (Williams Grove), Paul McMahan (Williams Grove), Jac Haudenschild (Eldora) and Shane Stewart (Knoxville) each winning once.

* In the Stacker 2® Dash that set the inside top six rows for the main event, Steve Kinser moved in front in the second corner and quickly pulled away. With Kinser out to a big lead, a caution flew when Jason Meyers had a right rear tire go in Turns 1 and 2 and Donny Schatz had a tire go down, as well. On the restart with only four cars remaining in the field, Kinser led Paul McMahan, Jonathan Allard and Roger Crockett down the front stretch and they stayed in line to the checkered flag.

* In the second dash that set the outside top six rows for the A-main, Brandon Wimmer raced into the lead from the outside of the front row and increased his advantage lap after lap to earn a spot on the outside of the front row for the A-main. Kraig Kinser shot into second with Joey Saldana, Tim Shaffer, Toni Lutar and Daryn Pittman rounding out the field.

* After getting a big jump on the initial start, Jason Solwold dominated the B-main. He motored away from the field and smoothly worked through traffic to the checkered flag while Terry McCarl and Tim Kaeding raced each other before for second. Kaeding darted high and low looking for a way to get around McCarl. Finally, coming out of Turn 4 for the final time, McCarl went to the bottom to protect and forced Kaeding to the outside. Kaeding slid around and grabbed the spot just before reaching the finish line. Safely in the final transfer spot, Brian Paulus drove to the checkered flag in fourth.

* In the heat race action, Stephen Allard, Craig Dollansky, Jason Sides and Shane Stewart all raced to early leads and drove away to win.

* The series completes the Harvest Classic Saturday and Sunday at Calistoga Speedway in Calistoga before shifting to Chico, Calif., for the Gold Cup Sept. 8-10 at Silver Dollar Speedway.

* The Outdoor Channel will air at 8 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 7 the show from Grays Harbor Raceway and on Sept. 14 the Harvest Classic from Calistoga Speedway.

-woo-

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Tim Shaffer , Mark Kinser , Danny Lasoski , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Sammy Swindell , Craig Dollansky , Brian Paulus , Brooke Tatnell , Daryn Pittman , Jason Meyers , Jason Sides , Joey Saldana , Jonathan Allard , Kerry Madsen , Kraig Kinser , Paul McMahan , Shane Stewart , Toni Lutar , Jac Haudenschild , Chad Kemenah , Roger Crockett , Jason Johnson
Teams Williams