Herrera Wins Season Opener at Kings Speedway By Richard Day HANFORD, CA (February 25) -- Craig Cormack's decision to change the number of his sprint car to his lucky roulette number immediately ...
Herrera Wins Season Opener at Kings Speedway By Richard Day
HANFORD, CA (February 25) -- Craig Cormack's decision to change the number of his sprint car to his lucky roulette number immediately started paying off on the race track. Johnny Herrera drove Cormack's #20 Networks Eagle to a flag-to- flag victory Friday when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened its 2000 season at Kings Speedway. "This is a great way to start the season," Johnny said. "I have to thank Craig Cormack, my entire crew, Eagle Chassis, Goodyear Tires, Wesmar Engines and everyone else who make this whole thing possible. "There's a lot of tough competition this year - maybe more than ever. Getting the season started like this, it's just the best thing that could happen. Hopefully, it will continue tomorrow (Saturday) night at Perris, and right through next weekend." The $10,000 victory was the 12th of Herrera's Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series career. He won his first "A" Feature for Cormack at Perris Auto Speedway - the second event of the 1999 season. Herrera, the eighth-fastest qualifier in the 45-car field, won the Fourth NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race and the Second Channellock Dash for the right to start outside the front row in the 30-lap "A" Feature. The 1986 Rookie of the Year took the lead by racing around pole-sitter Andy Hillenburg in the fourth corner as the green flag fell. Brian Paulus passed Greg Hodnett on the front stretch, then took second place with a high move around Hillenburg entering turn four. Donny Schatz and Daryn Pittman collided on the front straightaway just seconds after the field completed the first lap. Brian Coelho hit both cars and flipped with Pittman into turn one, bringing out the red flag. Pittman was the only one of the three able to restart the race. Hillenburg regained second place four laps after the ensuing restart, steering his #2 Luxaire J&J into the low groove between the turns one and two four laps. He bicycled through the second corner two laps later, however, allowing four cars to race past. Lasoski, who started outside the third row, started making his way to the front late in the 10th lap. He steered the #83 Beef Packers Eagle high into turn four to pass Paul McMahan for third place, then took the low line through the fourth corner to take second from Paulus three laps later. Mike Faria's turn-four spin brought out the caution flag midway through the race. Herrera raced away while Paulus challenged "The Dude," and opened a full-straightaway advantage within two laps after the race resumed. Herrera was eight car-lengths ahead of Lasoski when he entered lapped traffic during the 18th lap. Faria's second fourth-corner spin brought out the caution flag and tightened the field one lap later. Defending Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series champion Mark Kinser steered the #5M Mopar Maxim high in turn four to pass Hodnett for fifth just seconds before Tommy Tarleton flipped in turn two early in the 20th lap. Lasoski caught Herrera with six laps remaining and chased him into lapped traffic one lap later. Herrera bicycled in the first corner early in lap 26, but "The Dude" was unable to pass him. Herrera opened a seven-car-length advantage within a lap, only to have Paulus flip the #28 Verdelli Farms Maxim while trying to pass Pittman in turn four with two laps remaining. "The Dude" was unable to keep pace with Herrera on the 29th-lap restart and was seven car-lengths behind when the checkered flag fell. "It was more of a matter of beating the race track tonight," Herrera explained. "At the start of the race, I was getting through traffic pretty well, but toward the end I was kind of driving into the holes instead of around them, and I almost got it upside down there in turn one. Having the clear track for the last two laps really helped." Rain drenched Kings Speedway throughout the week, but Dave Swindell's tireless crew did an outstanding job of preparing the track so the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series could open its season on time. McMahan finished in third place, ahead of Mark Kinser, Hodnett, Steve Kinser, 20th-starting Jac Haudenschild, Brad Furr, "B" Feature winner Jeff Shepard and Danny Wood. Haudenschild and Stevie Smith collided with a spinning Ricci Faria exiting the fourth corner early in the First NAPA Auto Parts Heat Race, and flipped. Smith was forced to bring out a backup Ingersoll- Rand Black Bandit and start at the rear of the "C" Feature. He used a provisional to gain a starting position at the back of the main event. Tim Shaffer's collision with Steve Kinser late in the Second Channellock Dash sent him flipping, destroying the #11H Vivarin Eagle. He used a backup car and started at the rear of the "A" Feature field. Lance Blevins took a provisional to start the main event after flipping the #21 PC Joey J&J early in the "B" Feature. WoO