Editor's note: Richard Day of the World of Outlaws explaines how Danny Lasoski out pointed Mark Kinser to take the 2001 championship. Since the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' 2001 season several weeks ago, many people have asked me the...
Editor's note: Richard Day of the World of Outlaws explaines how Danny Lasoski out pointed Mark Kinser to take the 2001 championship.
Since the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' 2001 season several weeks ago, many people have asked me the same question over and over. "How in the name of first-grade arithmetic did Danny Lasoski beat Mark Kinser in the closest points race in series history?" they asked. Some even advocated the point system be changed. The following explanation proves just how complete the point system -- which requires consistently high finishes in every single race -- truly is. It was mind-boggling to me, too, when I first started looking at the numbers. Kinser won four times as many "A" Features, recorded three more top-five finishes, led more than twice as many main event laps, set quick-time more often and took more than $100,000 more to the bank than "The Dude." Ah, but those are just surface statistics. As unbelievable as it seems, Lasoski won the championship by performing much better than Kinser in the preliminary programs, those 33 dates preceding the 63 main events the series ran last season. This is especially astounding when one considers that almost four times as many points can be scored in a feature program. "Mopar Mark" scored 8,833 points -- an average of fifth place -- in the 63 feature programs. He outscored Lasoski, who averaged a sixth-place finish, by 132 points in the main events. "The Dude" offset that, however, by driving Tony Stewart's #20L J.D. Byrider Eagle so consistently in the preliminary programs. He raced into the top 12 in all but one Preliminary Feature. On the other hand, Kinser and the #5M Mopar Maxim faltered in the shorter races, finishing 13th or worse 14 times. Lasoski outscored "Mopar Mark" by 162 points in the preliminaries while averaging a sixth-place finish. Kinser, who won series championships in 1996 and 1999, was undone by finishing an average of 11th in the preliminaries. Kinser was 63 points ahead of Lasoski as late as October 6th when he raced into sixth place in the OdoBan Outlaws Championship at The Lowe's Motor Speedway Dirt Track. Four weeks later, "The Dude" credited his crew with a big save at that event. "We flipped that car at Charlotte, and they tuned a DNF into a 14th and kept me in it," Lasoski said. "I learned something from 'The King' (Steve Kinser) a couple of years ago. He won a championship when he only won four or five features, and the consistency is what we tried for all year long." Lasoski first took the points lead from Andy Hillenburg on March 9th while winning the 28th Annual Spring Nationals Preliminary Feature at the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series birthplace, Devil's Bowl Speedway. "The Dude" was 84 points ahead of Kinser when Mark slipped into fourth place in the standings with a 16th-place finish at I-55 Raceway March 24th. Sweeping the Southern Bleacher Classic at Texas Motor Speedway the following weekend started the five-race winning streak that pushed Kinser into the points lead, however. Lasoski returned to his racing roots -- Knoxville Raceway -- and reclaimed the points lead with an "A" Feature victory April 28th. "Mopar Mark" went home to his native Indiana and regained first place May 11th when he won the main event at the Terre Haute Action Track. Kinser led the point standings for almost a month before Lasoski returned to first place with a Preliminary Feature victory in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Motor Speedway at Heartland Park Topeka. Kinser raced into third place from outside the ninth row in the Second Preliminary Feature at the Eagle Nationals to reclaim the points lead. "The Dude" enjoyed another outstanding weekend at Knoxville Raceway during the Iowa Classic June 29-30, tying Kinser for the points lead with a Preliminary Feature victory and taking the points lead with a runner-up run in the finale. Kinser returned to first place just three days later when he won his fifth "A" Feature in the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' last six visits to Huset's Speedway. Lasoski tied "Mopar Mark" for the points lead with a sixth-place finish in the First Preliminary Feature in the Duel in the Dakotas at Red River Valley Speedway July 5th, then surged into first place with a seventh-place finish in the Second Preliminary Feature. Kinser regained first place with a victory at Route 66 Raceway July 13th, only to have "The Dude" pass him again with a runner-up run at -- where else -- Knoxville Raceway three days later. A second-place finish in the "Night Before The Kings Royal" race at Eldora Speedway on July 20th pushed Kinser back into first place in the point standings. He led the points race for the next 23 events before six straight finishes of 12th place or worse - along with Lasoski's consistency - foiled his bid for a third Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series championship. "Mopar Mark" and Lasoski exchanged the points lead 11 times between April 14th and July 20th (27 events). Lasoski took Yogi Berra's old cliché -- "It ain't over 'till it's over" -- to heart, however, and regained first place with a sixth-place finish at the Devil's Bowl October 27th. It didn't matter that Kinser finished two positions ahead of "The Dude" in the Mopar Parts World Finals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the final race of the season. Lasoski had already taken care of business in - where else? -- the Preliminary Feature the night before.