World of Outlaws Wrap-up: Manzanita Speedway A packed house: The final visit by the World of Outlaws to the legendary Manzanita Speedway on Saturday night played to a standing room only crowd, with the pit area packed as well with spectators...
World of Outlaws Wrap-up: Manzanita Speedway
A packed house: The final visit by the World of Outlaws to the legendary Manzanita Speedway on Saturday night played to a standing room only crowd, with the pit area packed as well with spectators getting a glimpse at the best sprint car drivers in the world competing one final time at the half-mile on the corner of 35th and Broadway in Phoenix. Chad Kemenah put his name in the record books as the final winner with the series at the track which has been hosting racing since 1951. Over the years, 12 drivers won A-Feature events with the series at the track.
"I want to thank all the fans for coming out," said Kemenah in Victory Lane. "I think they should keep it open a few more years now that I won here. I'm speechless, it's really, really cool."
Legends at the track: Ron Shuman, who is second on the all-time win list in a sprint car at Manzanita Speedway, was in attendance on Saturday night, visiting with a number of drivers and fans in the pit. Shuman, a 2003 inductee into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame has 13 career World of Outlaws A-Feature wins. Also in attendance was Phoenix native and veteran IndyCar Series driver Bill Boat, who won 20 times during his career at Manzanita Speedway in a variety of open wheel machines.
Closing on in: Steve Kinser used his series-best seventh Top-10 finish of 2009 to move to within 11 points of three-time and defending series champion Donny Schatz in the championship standings as he chases his record 21st series title. After starting ninth in the Crane Cams Dash, the native of Bloomington, Indiana charged by four cars in turns one and two on the opening lap of that race to move all the way up to fifth where he would finish to earn a third row starting spot in the 30-lap main event. He used another strong start in the main event to move up to third just a couple laps into the race. With the event on Saturday night being the last for the World of Outlaws at the track, Kinser's career stats at Manzanita will show 21 wins and over 50 Top-10 finishes, dating back to 1979.
"It would have been more special if we had won," deadpanned Kinser after the World of Outlaws final race at Manzanita. "We were pretty good."
Building momentum: Chad Kemenah and his Hard 8 Racing team look to use their first win of the season on Saturday night to build momentum in the coming weeks as the World of Outlaws schedule shifts into high gear, after an off weekend this coming week. Kemenah and the rest of the team continue to mesh with veteran crew chief Bonzai Bruns, who joined them prior to the 2009 campaign. Kemenah has four Top-10 finishes this season, including two in a row.
"We have been fast all year," noted Kemenah. "We were running fifth or sixth at Las Vegas and ran out of fuel. We had a couple of good runs in Florida. Hopefully we can get this thing turned around and consistently run up front and get some more wins."
A season-best finish: Lucas Wolfe, the reigning Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year, earned his best finish of the young season on Saturday night, coming home fifth in the just his second career start at Manzanita Speedway. He had a spirited battle with 2001 World of Outlaws champion Danny Lasoski for a number of laps.
"We were competitive all night and put ourselves in the right position," shared Wolfe. "We had a good draw in the dash and took advantage of that and continue to show improvement. We were definitely happy to get back on a half-mile, somewhere that I have more confidence at. It was a good night for us and hopefully we can carry this momentum through the off week and come back strong in Texas."
Running up front: Kraig Kinser's fourth-place finish on Saturday night was his third Top-Five of the year driving for Tony Stewart Racing. The third generation driver is in his second full season with the team and is excited for the schedule to pick up steam in a few weeks.
"I don't know how much momentum you can carry after an off week, but hopefully we have everything rolling when the busy season starts," said Kinser.
A new look online: Kinser also recently debuted a redesigned web site online. The site created by DREM Web Designs features the latest news on the third generation driver as well as and up-to-date schedule, current results and a photo gallery. A link to purchase merchandise also is on the site which can be accessed via http://www.kraigkinser.com/index.html.
Picking up some hardware: Donny Schatz received a 2008 "Horsepower" Trophy from the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association on Saturday night for being a member of the First Team of the All-America Auto Racing Team for the third consecutive year. Michael Knight, the Chairman of the AARWBA Awards Ceremony presented the trophy, along with longtime Arizona motorsports journalists Mark Armijo and Jamie Reynolds.
"It's definitely a great honor to receive this recognition for the third year in a row," said Schatz. "Thanks to all of the AARWBA members and for you guys coming out here tonight to present this. This means a lot to me."
Statscetra: Chad Kemenah became fifth driver to win this season with the World of Outlaws and the 11th different driver to lead laps in an A-Feature event this season in the nine events that the series has contested. Also, there has been nine different drivers win the Crane Cams Dash to earn a pole position, as well as nine drivers earn the Penske Power Position, which goes to the third-place finisher each night. There has been six drivers to be quickest in time trials, with Donny Schatz leading that list with three fast time honors.
Up next: The World of Outlaws return to Texas for a two-race weekend beginning on Friday, April 10 at Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore followed by a return to Houston Raceway Park on Saturday, April 11.