A Kokomo Cruise: Craig Dollansky Captures 6th Win of 2006 Kokomo, IN--September 24, 2006 -- It is not very often that a 40-lap sprint car race on a quarter-mile track is completed without any cautions. It is even more surprising to have all 24...
A Kokomo Cruise: Craig Dollansky Captures 6th Win of 2006
Kokomo, IN--September 24, 2006 -- It is not very often that a 40-lap sprint car race on a quarter-mile track is completed without any cautions. It is even more surprising to have all 24 cars that start the feature still running when the checkered flag flies.
On Sunday at Kokomo Speedway as the World of Outlaws Sprint Series and the All Star Circuit of Champions proved that both of these can be done in the same night, as they completed a non-stop A-Feature in just over eight and a half minutes in their final co-sanctioned event of the season.
Craig Dollansky was the main benefactor of this, as he led all 40 laps to make his sixth trip of the year to RacinSoles Victory Lane.
Dollansky aboard the Karavan Trailers Maxim started on the pole got the jump on a hard charging and determined Justin Henderson and Joey Saldana to take the lead into the first turn. From there, he would set a blistering pace, lapping up to ninth place on the racy quarter-mile.
At some parts of the race, the native of Elk River, Minn., built nearly a half a lap lead, until Terry McCarl methodically tracked him down in the final quarter of the race..
McCarl driving the Big Game Treestands Eagle made a late charge and worked his way to a runner-up finish, after starting the event in the eighth spot. The native of Altoona, Iowa got bottled up in traffic and lost some ground and ended up running out of laps.
Donny Schatz put in an impressive showing, powering his way from the 16th starting spot to come home third, all without a single caution to bunch the field.
Dale Blaney was fourth in the George Fisher Racing Maxim, with Joey Saldana rounding out the top-five in the Mopar-powered Dodge/Curb Records JEI.
For Dollansky the win snapped a streak of three straight third place finishes. It also was his 28th top-five of the season, as sits solidly in second spot in the championship standings.
"The car definitely felt real good tonight," said Dollansky. "The crew worked hard all night. Having a good car helps get yourself in position to win. Starting on the front row helped, but we had a lot of lapped traffic to deal with. It was a good strong run for the Karavan team. I'm happy for the entire team."
McCarl was proud of his team for all the hard work they put in all night. While he wanted to win the race for them, he knew he got everything out of his car and knew he helped the fans in the stands get their money's worth.
"What a great race for the fans," McCarl said. "What a great race track. I drove right up to second in about four laps. My car would go to the middle, bottom, and top, anywhere I wanted to go. I was pretty excited about that, and my guys gave me a great car."
Donny Schatz kept the fans cheering all night long as he sliced his way through over half of the field to finish third after lining up in the eighth row on the tight quarter-mile.
"It was the best we could do," said Schatz. "I was glad to see it go green-to-checkered. All night long that thing was so fast that it kept unhooking our car. I think we may have unhooked it too much for the feature. It's just a guessing game. When you are that far back, you just have to try stuff and we did and it worked. We had a tire that the bleeder was not working. I don't know what happened there, but it actually helped us. I am glad to leave here with a top-three. When you can't win, you have to be consistent."
Dale Blaney represented the All Star Circuit of Champions well, as he battled his way to a fourth-place finish. It was his seventh Top-10 finish this season in Outlaws competition.
"We're happy," Blaney said. "We were pretty decent all night. We qualified ok. We ran our heat ok. We struggled a little bit in the dash, but had a good starting spot and that was key. A couple guys moved up pretty good. We just hung around out there. We lost a few spots at the beginning and then picked off a few. It worked out pretty well."
Joey Saldana battled the track and an ill handling car all night to round of out the top-five. He started the event in third and jumped to the second spot on the initial start getting around Justin Henderson.
"We put too soft of a right rear tire on, and too big of a left rear tire," said Saldana. "We were tight early on. With that soft right rear tire, we tore it all to shreds. We didn't have anything for those guys. We were just hanging on. Luckily we finished fifth. We'll just keep trying and learning."
The rest of the Top-10 was Daryn Pittman in sixth in the Titan Garages & Carports Maxim. Justin Henderson was seventh after starting a career best second in the Jolt Energy Gum Schnee. Wayne Johnson turned in his best run of the year in the Mopar Wirtgen Maxim. Becca Anderson who turned the third fastest lap in time trials came across the line ninth in the A-Feature aboard the Upstate Kenworth Maxim. Randy Hannagan rounded out the Top-10 in the Penthouse Racing Maxim.
The lowest number that Dollansky saw all night when a checkered flag waved was two. He qualified in the second spot. He then finished his heat race in the second spot. After winning his series leading eighth dash of the year, he earned his eighth pole position.
As was expected lapped traffic came into play early and often in the race. Dollansky was already lapping cars on only his fifth trip around the track.
"There were a few lapped cars in front of me that were hard on the binders, probably for someone in front of them, so I was hard on my brakes a few times out there," he said. "I was able to work the top and work the bottom, and many times go where they were not."
Traffic was not so beneficial to McCarl. The always well-spoken veteran was a little frustrated after he climbed out of his car on the chilly evening. While the run was his second straight top-five he wanted very badly to have been holding the trophy at the end of the night.
"We had a great car," said McCarl. "Second or fifth, just depends on where you started, and how good your car was. It's a pretty disappointing second. I feel like we should have been the feature winner. I had a couple of lapped guys, and they knew they were lapped when Craig (Dollansky) went by them, and they decided to race me like this was the Knoxville Nationals."
While McCarl was chasing down Dollansky, Schatz was quietly yet quickly chasing him down. Schatz was able to negotiate traffic very well, and felt like it took him a few laps to get back in a rhythm in traffic, having not raced for over week, due to Saturday night's rainout at Wilmot Speedway, which will be made up on October 14.
"Racing like that is what teaches you how to race," said Schatz. "We have to learn how to race everyday, especially when we only race on weekends. We still have to learn every time we get in the car. I though I was a little behind in qualifying. I didn't run the right line, and gave the wrong feedback. I cost myself there. We're trying some stuff and it's working for the better. It's all about next year now. We have some big money coming up next week, and we are pumped about that and glad to be running good."
In the last 10 races, Dollansky has won three times and finished third in the other seven, including preliminary features. He was ecstatic to see the race run from green-to-checkers without any stoppages, as this was a benefit to the set-up his crew had on the car.
"I definitely felt good," he said. "With the way we were getting through lapped traffic, I was pretty comfortable and was not looking for any cautions. I was happy to that race go non-stop."
One slight worry that Dollansky had even before the feature rolled off, was a dense fog that engulfed the track, but that quickly lifted once the 24 cars took to the track and unleashed their 850-horsepower.
"It definitely was a concern before the race got started," said Dollansky. "When the fireworks went off, I was not sure what the heck was going on. Once we would the cars up a little bit and got the wings moving, that started to move that stuff out. After the green flag dropped, it wasn't really a concern."
While not much could slow Dollansky down on Sunday night, McCarl wondered afterwards if a caution that would have bunched the field up, would have made a difference.
"Early in the race, (a caution) it would have helped when I was close to Craig," said McCarl. "Late in the race when he put some lapped cars between us, it would not have made a difference. He got through traffic a lot better than I did. Congratulations to him, he has been running really good lately. It feels good to get the Big Game Treestands car back on track these last few races."
With eight races left in the season, Dollansky is second in points, which if he finished in that spot would mark his career best with the series. While he seeks to pick up a few more checkered flags this season, he is already thinking of the big picture and how this momentum from late in the season can carry over to next season.
"We're all about preparing to go into 2007, and going into the season the way you need to go into a season," said Dollansky. "This year we did not start off correctly and had to make a lot of changes. With those changes and the personnel changes we made, it is starting to pay off. I'm definitely encouraged by what I see from this team, and this car feels good to me night in and night out. It's been a long time since I have had that. We just have to keep working hard going down the stretch. We have eight races left and we're going to try to win as many as we can. We'll just keep plugging away and see where we end up."
The World of Outlaws Sprint Series heads east to take on the Pennsylvania Posse in the National Open at Williams Grove Speedway this Friday-Saturday. The winner of Saturday night's finale will take home $50,000.
KOKOMO SPEEDWAY NOTEBOOK
* FILLING IN: Jason Johnson who finished third at this year's Knoxville Nationals, was behind the wheel of the Rush Racing car on Sunday night, filling in for Brooke Tatnell, who has won four A-Feature races this season. Tatnell returned to his native Australia last week to be with his father George who is battling cancer.
"This is a good opportunity," said Johnson. "It's unfortunate the situation for Brooke. I was in that situation a few years ago. I lost my sister and I was in Australia at the time. It's pretty hard to deal with when you are all the way around the world. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Tatnell family. I'm grateful for the opportunity that I can be Brooke's relief driver."
* FAST QUALIFIER: Jeremy Campbell paced the 47 cars in time trials with an AMB i.t.-timed record setting lap around the 1/4-mile semi-banked oval at 11.021 seconds at 81.662 mph. For his qualifying effort, Campbell earned five bonus points. The next four fastest qualifiers also earned bonus points, including: Craig Dollansky (4), Becca Anderson (3), Jason Johnson (2), and Joey Saldana (1).
* QUALIFYING EVENT WINNERS: Heat race winners included: Randy Hannagan, Terry McCarl, Jason Solwold, and Brandon Wimmer ...Neil Shepherd won the C-Main. ... Jeremy Campbell won the B-Main. ... Craig Dollansky won the dash.