'Dude' Takes Outlaws Nationals Preliminary TOPEKA, KS (June 14) - Donny Schatz appeared to be on his way to a second straight victory at O'Reilly Auto Parts Motor Speedway Friday when Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Danny Lasoski...
'Dude' Takes Outlaws Nationals Preliminary
TOPEKA, KS (June 14) - Donny Schatz appeared to be on his way to a second straight victory at O'Reilly Auto Parts Motor Speedway Friday when Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Danny Lasoski passed him for the lead in dense lapped traffic.
"The Dude" beat Schatz under the checkered flag by only .6 seconds 10 laps later to win the Preliminary Feature on opening night of the 97 Country Outlaws Nationals. The $5,000 victory, Lasoski's third in a Preliminary Feature this season, extended his advantage in the standings to 34 points over 16-time series champion Steve Kinser.
"That's the kind of racing you get on a great race track," Lasoski said. "Jay Lendrum and his whole crew did an outstanding job with this place tonight. I'm sure these guys will try to give us a duplicate of this track tomorrow, so we'll just kind of watch as see what happens.
"My car owner, Tony Stewart, has given me a great race team, and all my guys out here work so hard. I'm glad to win here close to home, with American Compressed Steel so close here, and Massey Motorsports as well. Eagle Chassis, Hoosier tires - just everyone involved - does such a great job for me."
Lasoski, the fourth-fastest qualifier, earned the right to start the 25-lap feature outside the second row by finishing second in the Second O'Reilly Auto Parts Dash.
First O'Reilly Auto Parts Dash winner Joey Saldana burst into the lead from the pole as the green flag fell in the evening's main event. "The Dude" drove Stewart's #20 J.D. Byrider Eagle past Jac Haudenschild on the front straightaway and passed Brad Furr for second place with an inside move between turns one and two several seconds later. Danny Wood won a backstretch drag race with "The Wild Child" to take over fourth place two laps later.
Kinser, Paul McMahan and Kerry Madsen were racing three-abreast through turn two early in the fourth lap when they tangled and collided with Daryn Pittman and Tim Shaffer. All five drivers restarted the race at the rear of the field when the green flag replaced the red.
Schatz, who started inside the sixth row, drove his family's #15 Parker Stores J&J to the rim in the second corner to pass fast qualifier Stevie Smith for fourth place as the race resumed. "The King of the Outlaws" brought out the caution flag when his #11 Quaker State Maxim spun in turn two half a lap later.
Schatz continued his run toward the front when the green flag replaced the yellow, taking the inside line through turns one and two to pass Haudenschild and Wood. The 1997 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year award winner passed Furr for third place with a low move in the second corner early in lap eight.
Saldana was .18 seconds ahead of "The Dude" when he entered lapped traffic the next time around. Schatz took the low line through turns one and two to pass Lasoski for second place early in the 11th lap. Dan Oswalt's first-corner spin brought out the caution flag and took the leaders out of lapped traffic the next time around.
Schatz challenged Saldana for the lead as the green flag replaced the yellow, and passed him deep in turn three several seconds later. Furr and Wood exchanged fourth place during the 13th and 15th laps.
Lasoski passed Schatz for the lead in the low groove between the first and second corners as the leaders caught the back-markers early in lap 16.
"I couldn't believe it when Donny got by me on the bottom," Lasoski said, "Actually, Joey was running pretty good on the top, and I was just kind of following him then Donny got by me. But he got hung up by a lapped car, and we were able to get the lead. I almost got caught behind a lapped car there at the end, and I thought Donny might have been able to get something working up top. But we held on, and now we're locked in for tomorrow night."
Craig Dollansky, who started inside the ninth row, drove Karavan Racing's #7 V-Mac/ Polydome Maxim past both Wood and Saldana on the back straightaway to take over third place midway through lap 17.
Mark Kinser, who won the Second Heat Race, started inside the eighth row and raced into fifth place during the first 20 laps. He and Wood passed Dollansky in the high groove between turns one and two during the 20th and 22nd laps. The 2000 World of Outlaws Gumout Series champion regained fourth place by passing Kinser in the low groove in the same spot with 1 2/3 laps remaining.
Kinser finished in fifth place, ahead of Smith, Saldana, Randy Hannagan, McMahan and Furr.
Smith was the fastest of six drivers eclipsing the qualifying standard Shaffer last June 16th, circling the semi-banked, 3/8-mile oval in 11.706 seconds, an average speed of 115.325 M.P.H.