Tatnell Triumphs: Captures Opening Night in Las Vegas Las Vegas, NV--Oct. 27, 2006 -- Brooke Tatnell has made it a tradition to call his father George, who lives in their native Australia, before every race. Friday was no different as he picked...
Tatnell Triumphs: Captures Opening Night in Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV--Oct. 27, 2006 -- Brooke Tatnell has made it a tradition to call his father George, who lives in their native Australia, before every race. Friday was no different as he picked up his cell phone, to speak with the man who taught him everything he knows about racing. On a sunny afternoon that turned into a very pleasant evening, Brooke had a good feeling and told his dad during their chat, that he would win for him.
After 25 laps of preliminary feature racing for the World of Outlaws Sprint Series, Tatnell was true to his word as his Race Outfitters Schnee rolled into RacinSoles Victory Lane. For Brooke, who returned to his native land a couple weeks ago to be with his father, as the elder Tatnell battles cancer, the victory was extra meaningful.
Tatnell slid around Danny Lasoski on the low side of turn two on lap six, and withstood a lap 17 restart, holding off a hard charging Craig Dollansky, to claim his first prelim feature win of the season.
"It was an awesome night, for an awesome team," said Tatnell. "These guys have been doing a great job all year. This is a tribute to the whole team...I called my dad and said we were going to win this one. I just had that gut feeling."
Tatnell lined up for the event in the fourth spot, and moved up to the outside of the front row, after Daryn Pittman suffered some mechanical problems that ended his night, at the same time that a red flag flew for Garry Maier getting upside down. This set up a complete restart, since a full lap had not yet been completed, and thus moved all the drivers lined up on the outside of each row, up a row. While running second, Tatnell paid close attention to the lines that Lasoski was running, before making the winning pass.
The triumph was worth $5,000 for Tatnell and his Rush Racing team, and also secured for them the pole position in Saturday's night's dash that will set the first five rows of the 30-lap A-Feature, that will wrap up a very competitive season for the Outlaws.
Craig Dollansky in the Karavan Trailers Maxim wasted little time at the drop of the green flag, moving up to the third spot on the opening lap, passing Shane Stewart in turn two. From there, the native of Elk River, Minn., patiently watched the leaders and analyzed what where they were running on the half-mile.
"To be locked in is definitely something you want to do on a prelim night," explained Dollansky. "We had a pretty decent race car, and we have a little bit of work to do tomorrow to get it better. We were working hard, and just came up a little bit short."
Lasoski, whose team changed an engine after a heat race win, due to a problem with the throttle, won the dash to earn the pole position, aboard the Roth Motorsports Eagle. He battled all night, winding up in the third spot, and also locking himself into the dash on Saturday night. He opened some sizeable leads early in the race, but they were negated by a couple of red flags, including the one on the first lap.
"We gave this thing away," said Lasoski, the 2001 World of Outlaws Champion. "I had no idea that the bottom was that good. Sometimes it's just better to be second and see what the leader is doing. My hat is off to Brooke (Tatnell) and his team, they did a good job."
Paul McMahan in the Bass Pro Shops Eagle powered his way to a fourth place finish and more importantly secured the final guaranteed starting spot in Saturday night's dash. He had his hands full over the last few laps, as he attempted to move into third, while also trying to maintain his fourth spot.
"The biggest thing is being locked in for tomorrow night," said McMahan. "You always want to win, but anytime you can get locked in during a two-day show, that is a good thing. We were pretty good and I made a couple of mistakes, and I think I could have gotten by Danny (Lasoski), but toward the end, I was trying to get by him as well as fight Joey (Saldana) off at the same time. I'm just glad the Bass Pro Shop car came home with a top-four finish."
Joey Saldana, passed more cars than anyone on the night, as he romped from 18th starting spot (16th after moving up a row after the lap 1 red flag) to finish fifth, in the Mopar-powered Dodge/Curb Records JEI. The native of Brownsburg, Ind., was in the Top-10 by the 11th lap, and moved around Stewart on the 18th go-around to get into the Top-five.
The rest of the Top-10 was Shane Stewart in the Wirtgen Maxim in sixth. Jason Solwold was seventh in the City Wide Insulation Maxim. Donny Schatz recovered from a trip to the work area to repair a bend radius rod, in the Parker Store J&J, to come home eighth. Chad Kemenah, who leads the battle for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt, in the Underground Utilities Inc./RacinSoles.com Eagle finished ninth.. Terry McCarl in the Big Game Tree Stands Eagle was 10th.
Tatnell who was setting a blistering pace encountered lapped traffic for the first time on the eighth lap, though it was short lived when the caution flag waved, clearing the track for the native of San Souci, NSW, Australia, and the rest of the leaders.
"The car was really good and I thought that lapped traffic may help us," said Tatnell. "We were going to have the first bit at the lapped cars, and the car was maneuverable. I was actually hoping to get into traffic, but we didn't and that's good as well."
After fending off Dollansky early in the race, Tatnell was able to set his sights on Lasoski on the fourth lap, and needed only a couple more circuits to find the line that suited his car best.
"When he (Lasoski) went to the top, I knew the bottom was definitely better in turns one and two, if I could get it right," Tatnell said. "If you missed the corner, you were in a bit of trouble, but as long as you hit it perfect, it was the fastest way around. I wasn't sure what to do in three and four, whether to square the corner off, diamond it off so no one could slide you, or just go up and try to build some momentum."
While for some drivers the early red flags made it tough for them to get into a rhythm, that was not the case for Dollansky, who ran in the top-three all night long. While he was not completely satisfied with his car, he was able to put it both high and low as he worked his way at the front of the field.
"I felt pretty good from the get go," said Dollansky. "Sometimes red flags can work in your favor and sometimes not. It didn't really bother us either way tonight."
Tatnell did not mind the caution flags either. In fact, he was so comfortable with his car that he was able to take advantage on the restarts as well as in open track during a few of the longer runs.
"These are sprint races, so it really does not make much difference (to have an early red flag)," said a smiling Tatnell. "The only time it matters is when you get an awesome start and they call it back because you did not complete a full lap. The two early reds did not affect any rhythm because you really don't have a rhythm that early."
While he was disappointed he did not find his way to the winners circle, Lasoski who has two A-Feature wins and one prelim win in World of Outlaws competition this season, was thrilled at the racing surface that was present at the ultra-modern half-mile.
"We pretty much know what to expect here," said Lasoski. "My hats off to all the people at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and all the people that work on the race track, they did a great job."
McMahan is confident that the track will be in even better shape on Saturday night and produce some two and three-wide racing all night long. He tried various lines on Friday night searching for a little bit of extra speed.
"I was pretty good on the bottom, but the top was just as fast, especially in turns one and two," said McMahan. "Then down in turns three and four you had to run around the top, you could not run around the bottom. Hopefully tomorrow we'll get this thing to have two lanes and make it exciting for the fans."
Tatnell, who returned home a couple weeks back to be with his father who is battling cancer, was ecstatic about how hard his crew worked on Friday night, as well as how hard they have worked all season long. Tatnell believes the crew, are the ones that should get the credit with their dedication and hard work, while he is the lucky person that get to steer the car.
"Troy (Renfro, crew chief) and I get all the credit, and we try to pass it off to those who deserve it, and that is this whole race team," said Tatnell. "One race car driver, and I don't care who you are cannot win races, just like one crew chief cannot win races without the right driver and the right team behind him. It's been an awesome year."
Tatnell and the team were also thrilled to celebrate a win for car builder Brian Schnee. The team was close to picking up a win in the car at Eagle (Neb.) Raceway in September, leading 38 laps that night, and they also had a runner-up finish last Saturday at USA Race Park.
"Brian Schnee built us an awesome car, and this is his first Outlaws win for a few years," commented Tatnell. "It's great for him."
The World of Outlaws Sprint Series wraps up the 2006 season on Saturday night at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a 30-lap A-Feature that will pay the winner $12,000.
THE DIRT TRACK @ LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY NOTEBOOK NIGHT #1
*PAYING TRIBUTE: In honor of Ted Johnson, the founder of the World of Outlaws, who was buried this week, Shane Carson, drove Donny Schatz's spare car at the front of the field during the traditional 4-wide salute to the fans on Friday night. Carson who won two World of Outlaws A-feature races in his career, competed in the first ever series event in 1978.
"The importance is the effect that Ted (Johnson) had on sprint car racing over the years," said Carson, Vice President of Race Operations for the World of Outlaws Sprint Series. "He started off the series in 1978 and it was just a vision and a dream. A lot of us went along with him because we wanted to see it go, and that is what I think made the series go. At the time we all were looking for an organization that we could call our own. The 'Outlaws' was a real catchy phrase, and everybody wanted to be an 'Outlaw.' I am really glad that I was able to run in that first race in 1978 at Devil's Bowl (Texas) Speedway and stayed with them, and am still with them."
* FAST QUALIFIER: Becca Anderson paced the 44 cars that took time with an AMB i.t.-timed lap around the 1/2-mile semi-banked oval at 13.935 seconds at 129.171 mph. Because the season finale at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway, is a multi-day show with varying championship point totals on each night, no qualifying bonus points are awarded. Danny Lasoski holds the track record of 13.719 seconds established on March 4, 2004.
* QUALIFYING EVENT WINNERS: Heat race winners included: Justin Henderson, Chad Kemenah, Danny Lasoski, and Joey Saldana, ... Gary Lee Maier won the C-Main. ... Becca Anderson won the B-Main. ... Danny Lasoski won the dash.
* UP NEXT: A very competitive 2006 season wraps up for the World of Outlaws Sprint Series with the finale of the two-day show at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 28.