July was by far the busiest month of the season for the World of Outlaws, as 15 races were contested at 11 tracks in eight states taking the teams as far west as Huset's Speedway in Brandon, South Dakota, and as far east as Lebanon Valley Speedway...
July was by far the busiest month of the season for the World of Outlaws, as 15 races were contested at 11 tracks in eight states taking the teams as far west as Huset's Speedway in Brandon, South Dakota, and as far east as Lebanon Valley Speedway in New York.
A night after Donny Schatz picked up his seventh win of the season at 81 Speedway in Kansas, the series headed to the Old West and Dodge City Raceway Park on July 1.
Just as many of the Outlaws use to roll into Dodge City with a score to settle, so did Joey Saldana in the Boot Hill Showdown at Dodge City Raceway Park. After a spirited charge from the back of the field to finish seventh the night before at 81 Speedway, he was determined to return to the winner's circle.
Saldana lined up fourth in the 30-lap A-Feature and gained two spots quickly before setting his sights on leader Brooke Tatnell. Saldana chose his line well and patiently followed Tatnell measuring his every move. After encountering lapped traffic just before the halfway point of the race, Saldana was able to close the gap on the Aussie.
Saldana made the pass for the win on the high side of the track on the 12th lap. At the beginning of the lap, Saldana was about eight car lengths behind Tatnell, but once in traffic, he closed that gap in an instant and used a couple of lapped cars to his full advantage. Tatnell wound up second with Donny Schatz third.
"We needed it after last night," Saldana said. "We had a very disappointing race at Wichita. We had a really good car and we ended up seventh. We got caught up there at the start and went off the track. I could not keep my car going. We definitely rebounded with a good run. My guys worked real hard. We put the car where it should be and hopefully we can keep this up."
Schatz retained his point lead as the series headed north to Huset's Speedway in Brandon, South Dakota.
As the series headed back to Huset's Terry McCarl was very confident as he sought his first World of Outlaws win at the track where he has won six titles in weekly competition.
At the beginning of May, McCarl needed surgery to repair his broken left leg. On July 3 at Huset's Speedway, McCarl used surgical precision to work through traffic and put himself in position behind leader Tyler Walker to challenge for the top spot.
Then with only three laps to go, Walker's machine went up in smoke and McCarl shot to the front and powered into RacinSoles Victory Lane for the first time with the World of Outlaws since 2004 and third overall. Joey Saldana continued his torrid pace by finishing second with pole-sitter Randy Hannagan in third, Jac Haudenschild in fourth, and Jason Solwold in fifth.
"Huset's is my favorite short track," said McCarl, after doing a celebratory wing dance, injured leg and all. "I have 79 wins here, and it's just as good as the first one was. I wanted to win here so bad for so long. The bulk of my sponsorship comes from up here. Big Game Treestands and Bosma Poultry and all the people we have had in the past that have made it possible for me to get to where I am at. It's a real racy area and they always get a good crowd out here. They also have great local drivers here. It's a tough track and it made me what I am today."
Schatz held his 192-point lead over Saldana as the Bullring Swing continued the following weekend, with back-to-back races.
First on the docket was the tight quarter-mile at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, a track that suited Jac Haudenschild's driving style perfectly.
He's known as the "Wild Child," and on July 7 in the City of Lawrenceburg Sprint Nationals pitting the World of Outlaws against the All Star Circuit of Champions, Haudenschild lived up to every bit of that nickname as he, Joey Saldana and Craig Dollansky raced three-wide for the lead with three laps to go.
Haudenschild was on the top, forcing his machine into the only opening Saldana and Dollansky, who had been engaged in a back-and-forth battle for the top spot themselves, would leave him. Haudenschild, who started fourth and dropped to 10th on the first lap, danced on the top of the cushion and then hammered his way to the front on Lap 38 and surged into the RacinSoles Victory Lane for the fourth on the season.
"It was a good race," said Haudenschild. "In the dash we got a few spots to give us a good starting position. The first few laps of the feature we had to fight our way back. We fought our way back about three times after falling to 10th. The guys had the car set up really well. We were able to get up through there."
Joey Saldana, who led much of the event, wound up second, with Dollansky, who traded the lead with Saldana until Haudenschild's bold move, grabbing third.
Saldana was able to cut nine points off of Schatz's lead in the standings as they prepared to tackle the always challenging high-banks of I-55 Raceway in Missouri the following night.
Always looking to get a step up on the competition, and to stand out in a crowd, Brooke Tatnell's team, led by crew chief Troy Renfro, brought out their "retro" car for the second time this season on July 8 at I-55 Raceway, as they looked for a spark. The white car with the distinctive red stripes down the middle of the top and front-wings, turned many heads in the pit area, then showed on the track that it was not only sharp looking, but ultra-fast.
Tatnell showed he was the class of the field, leading 33 of the 40 laps in the A-Feature to make his third trip of the season to the winner's circle.
The fan favorite earned the pole position after winning the dash, and jumped out to the initial lead when the green flag flew. Tatnell was setting a blistering pace early, as he began to encounter lapped traffic on only the sixth lap of the race on the high-banked 1/3-mile. Joey Saldana stayed right on Tatnell's bumper as the pair weaved their way in and out of traffic for the first ten circuits.
Tatnell then pulled away again until he got into more lapped traffic, and that is when he had a torrid battle with current point leader Donny Schatz who wound up fourth, as well as Daryn Pittman, who used a late surge to roll into the second spot.
Tatnell and Schatz swapped the lead countless times, but at the line, it was Tatnell leading the bulk of those laps, three separate times, while Schatz was credited with leading twice. The native of San Souci, NSW, Australia fought off repeated attempts by Pittman to take the top spot.
"I'm pretty happy and proud of this team right now," said Tatnell. "The guys did an awesome job tonight. We made the decision to change the car after the dash, even though we were good in the dash. We win together as a team and we lose together as a team. We all made the decision."
Schatz, who earned two points for being the fourth fastest in time trials, extended his lead in the championship standings over Saldana, as the series headed east to Ohio for a big week of racing.
Rain delayed the 18th Annual Brad Doty Classic one day to, as the event was being held at Limaland Motorsports Park for the first time.
The race drew the largest crowd of the season at the immaculate quarter-mile track that is owned and operated by the University of Northwestern Ohio. The World of Outlaws battled it out against the best from the All Star Circuit of Champions, to honor the legendary Doty who has given so much to the sport.
Joey Saldana started second and took the lead from Terry McCarl on the first lap and went on to pace all 40 laps. McCarl came home second after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. came up light at the scales. With two laps to go on a restart they both were on Saldana's tail, but the Brownsburg, Ind. native had just enough of a lead that they were not able to get underneath him.
Saldana was setting a blistering pace and encountered plenty of lapped traffic on the tight and racy track. The yellow flag was good to him a couple of times as it flew right as he was about to get into heavy traffic, and he was able to restart with a clean track ahead of him and slowly pull away.
"I'm just glad we won a race on a quarter-mile," said Saldana. "I think people didn't think our package would be good on these little tracks. I feel like I have given some away as a driver, and tonight we got it done."
Saldana, who set quick time and led the most laps gained 15 points on Schatz to cut his deficit to 174, as they headed to Eldora Speedway for the Kings Royal.
Craig Dollansky showed he would be one of the favorites for the 23rd Annual Kings, after picking up the A-Feature win on July 14. He took the lead on the fifth lap of the 30-lap Knight Before the Kings Royal at Eldora. He started third and moved to the lead after Kevin Swindell flipped while leading.
Dollansky then withstood a late charge by Terry McCarl to pick up his third win of the year and second at Eldora. McCarl closed within a couple of car lengths on a late restart and showed he too will be a contender for the Kings Royal.
"It definitely feels good to get a few wins here this year," said Dollansky. "We've been close a few times, and didn't get it done. This team is a work in progress, and we just keep at it every night. The car felt really good, and it felt good last time we were here too. We have a good package here. Hopefully we can put together again tomorrow."
In the Kings Royal on the following night, Joey Saldana was in a class all by himself, as he picked up $50,000 for his second career win in the famed event.
Saldana whose car owner, NASCAR star Kasey Kahne was on-hand, didn't disappoint his boss. He won a heat race to qualify for the special six car dash to determine the starting order for the first three rows of the 40-lap A-Feature. The Brownsburg, Ind., native wound up third in that event to start inside the second row for the event that he also won in 2002.
Saldana used a power move on the high side of the track on the 20th lap to overtake Danny Lasoski for the lead. From there he set sail, though a couple of cautions bunched the field. Each time, Saldana showed that on a restart he had the fastest car on the track. He patiently worked his way through traffic, as he was setting a very quick pace and only a couple of laps after the drop of the green flag on restarts, he found himself weaving his way in and out of the slower machines.
"It feels good for the team," said Saldana. "We are a rookie team, and every week we are building to get better. To win a race like that gives me some good job security. Hopefully I'm here for a while."
Thanks to setting the second fastest lap in time trials, Schatz gained four points on Saldana in the season standings, as they continued the "Month of Money" with the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway on July 18, an event Schatz desperately wanted to win, that paid $30,000 to the victor and carried plenty of prestige with it.
Schatz started the 40 lap A-Feature in the 6th spot and powered his way to runner-up position by the 10th lap. He gained a spot each of the first three laps of the race, by running the high grove. The native of Fargo, N.D., then patiently raced with local favorite Ed Lynch Jr., and used lapped traffic late in the race to his advantage.
He closed to within a couple of car lengths countless times but wisely backed off as there was not quite enough room to make the pass. Schatz bided his time and shadowed Lynch waiting to make a well calculated move.
That move came on the lap 33 as he looked low, to see if there was an opening. On the following circuit, Schatz used a power move to the high side of the track to take the lead and ultimately the $30,000-win.
Lynch led the most laps on the night and came home second. Daryn Pittman ran in the top-five all night and finished third. Craig Dollansky finished fourth after lining up 11th for the A-Feature, after he won the B-Main to transfer to the A-Feature. Lance Dewease rounded out the top-five.
"We really did want this one," said Schatz. "I thought we would beat Ed (Lynch Jr.) a few years ago. I drove every inch of this thing that I could. We were good the last couple of laps. It was a handful at the beginning and in the middle."
The win helped Schatz extend his lead over Saldana to 189 in the championship standings as the series readied for an intense three nights of action at Williams Grove Speedway for the Summer Nationals.
Up Next: A review of the World of Outlaws Sprint Series events from the month of July- Part II.