Kings Speedway - Hillenburg wins opener

HANFORD, CA (February 23) -- In his 13 previous seasons with the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series, Andy Hillenburg has rarely been a fast starter. His fortunes seemed to follow the weather patterns. Hillenburg reversed that trend Friday when...

HANFORD, CA (February 23) -- In his 13 previous seasons with the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series, Andy Hillenburg has rarely been a fast starter. His fortunes seemed to follow the weather patterns. Hillenburg reversed that trend Friday when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened its 2001 season at Kings Speedway, leading all 30 laps to claim the $10,000 first prize. Previously, his earliest "A" Feature victory was March 19th, in the 1994 Spring Nationals at Devil's Bowl Speedway. "I don't think I've ever started off the year with a win," Hillenburg said. "I've started pretty good, but never with a win. I'm just happy to get a win." Hillenburg, the 15th-fastest qualifier in the 37-car field, won every race he entered -- the Third O'Reilly Heat Race, the CHANNELLOCK Dash and the "A" Feature. It was the 24th victory of his Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series career. Hillenburg and Fourth O'Reilly Heat Race winner Jason Meyers started the main event on the front row. They raced wheel-to-wheel down the front straightaway and bumped as they entered turn one. The slight collision allowed Hillenburg to take the lead, while Brad Furr, Joey Saldana, Jeff Shepard and Tim Shaffer raced past Meyers, the 2000 World of Outlaws Gumout Series Rookie of the Year. Hillenburg's #2 Luxaire J&J was eight car-lengths ahead of Furr when the leaders entered lapped traffic four laps into the race. Furr collided with Kevin Pylant four laps later, allowing fast-qualifier Joey Saldana to take over second place. Before the leaders completed the lap, however, Brian Coelho stopped in the second corner, bringing out the caution flag and allowing Furr to retain the runner-up spot. Meyers collided with Shepard on the back stretch while trying to pass him for fifth place after the restart. Donny Schatz passed past, and completed the lap before Meyers stopped in turn three. Coelho flipped in the third corner as the race resumed, bringing out the red flag. The red flag flew again after a collision involving defending Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series champion Steve Kinser and Mike Faria sent Faria flipping down the back straightaway. Shepard drove Guy Forbrook's #5 Wirtgen Maxim past Schatz on the front stretch to take over fifth place late in the 12th lap. Both drivers moved up a position the next time around when Saldana slid over the bank in turn two. Jac Haudenschild and the #83 Beef Packers Eagle flipped in the second corner midway through the race, bringing out the red flag. Hillenburg raced away from the field as the green flag replaced the red, and opened a 10-car-length advantage within five laps. Shepard, Schatz and Mark Kinser battled for fourth place during the final five laps, but no positions changed. Saldana's #17 HEM Saw Eagle flipped as Hillenburg took the checkered flag. "I just didn't know how fast I was -- didn't know where second place was -- so I ran every lap as hard as I could," Hillenburg said. The car was so good tonight that I could pretty much run wherever I wanted to. My guys did I great job. Diesel (Keith Carlson) worked hard all winter, and we have Shane Stewart working with us now. I also want to thank Luxaire, John Christner, Ott Engines, Hoosier, J&J and everyone that makes this possible. The track was really good considering all the bad weather they've had here lately. I hope everyone enjoyed it -- I sure had a good time." Furr finished in second place, ahead of Shaffer, Shepard, Schatz, Mark Kinser, Brooke Tatnell, Craig Dollansky, Danny Lasoski and 17th-starting Steve Kinser. Saldana was the fastest of 16 drivers breaking Kings Speedway's previous single lap record, circling the semi-banked, 1/3-mile oval in 12.293 seconds, an average speed of 97.617 m.p.h. Paul McMahan collided with Shepard as the green flag fell in the Second O'Reilly Heat Race, causing the #U2 United Expressline Eagle to flip. McMahan won the "B" Feature to qualify for the main event. A crash during the Third O'Reilly Heat Race involving Haudenschild and Tommy Tarlton sent both flipping over the bank in turn one. "The Wild Child" qualified for the "A" Feature by finishing second in the "B."


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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Andy Hillenburg , Tim Shaffer , Brad Furr , Danny Lasoski , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Craig Dollansky , Brooke Tatnell , Jason Meyers , Joey Saldana , Paul McMahan , Jac Haudenschild