News and Notes 2007-05-07

World of Outlaws News & Notes A capacity crowd, one of the largest in the history of the storied Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, Arkansas welcomed the World of Outlaws back to the track for the first time since 1981 on...

World of Outlaws News & Notes

A capacity crowd, one of the largest in the history of the storied Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, Arkansas welcomed the World of Outlaws back to the track for the first time since 1981 on Saturday, May 5. One of the many highlights of the event was all 39 drivers in attendance taking part in driver introductions prior to hot laps. Fans began to arrive at the ¼-mile nearly seven hours before the first green flag was scheduled to fly, and were able to visit the pit area to meet all of their favorite drivers throughout the afternoon. Long after the checkered flag flew on the event that was won by Daryn Pittman, drivers were still signing autographs for the throng of fans in the pit area.

Vote Getting: Balloting for the First Quarter Driver of the Year Award, by an independent vote of an 18-member panel of blue-ribbon auto racing journalists and broadcasters recently concluded, with Joey Saldana finishing fifth in the balloting, with a star-studded field of drivers receiving votes. Jeff Gordon was named the First Quarter Driver of the Year, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Sebastien Bourdais, and Jeff Burton. Saldana was the only driver besides Gordon, to receive a first-place vote.

Through the first 17 World of Outlaws events this season, Saldana has five wins, along with 14 Top-10 finishes. He has been quickest in time trials on four occasions, and also has won a Crane Cams Dash to earn a pole position, in addition to leading a series-best 153 laps in A-Feature competition.

"It is a great for a World of Outlaws driver to receive votes among that list of distinguished drivers," said Saldana. "It's a huge honor. We have three more quarters to go, and hopefully we can continue the success that we have had in the first quarter, as we continue to chase the World of Outlaws championship. Hopefully we can stay up in the Driver of the Year rankings as well, because it is such an honor to have your name mentioned with guys like that."

A Special Track: While the win Riverside was special to Daryn Pittman, it was just as meaningful to his wife Mandy, who grew up in the Memphis area, and had numerous family members and friends in attendance on Saturday night. She had been attending races at the track for a number of years while growing up, as her father Mike Ward, was a frequent competitor at the bullring. Ward was also in action on Saturday night and started the fourth heat on the pole, with his son-in-law Daryn alongside.

"It was an amazing night," said Mandy Pittman. "It was kind of like a dream come true. You always want to come back home and have a good showing for all of the fans that you have at home. It was awesome to see Daryn win, and for him to dedicate it to my stepfather who is really sick, was really special. Daryn drove an amazing race and I have to give him credit. The track was rough and that is not his forte, and he got elbows up and he was bound and determined to win."

Hard Charger: Craig Dollansky made the most of what could have turned into a dismal night on Saturday in his first visit to Riverside. After having engine trouble in time trials that prevented him from turning a lap, his crew led by Rob Hart, worked hard to change engines. After coming up just a spot short of transferring into the A-Feature through his heat race, Dollansky used a provisional to start the A-Feature. He lined up 27th and charged to a ninth-place finish, passing the most cars on the night, on a very demanding track. The native of Elk River, Minnesota currently is fourth in the championship standings on the strength of 12 Top-10 finishes.

Filling In: Tim Kaeding filled in for Brooke Tatnell at Riverside International Speedway on Saturday night. Tatnell returned home to Australia last week to be with his father George who continues a courageous battle with cancer. Kaeding finished 10th in his first race behind the wheel of the No. 2 for Larry Woodward Racing. It was the third different car that the third-generation sprint car star has driven this season. He won earlier in the year at Thunderbowl Raceway in his home state of California.

"The biggest thing is trying to get comfortable in the car," explained Kaeding. "That is one of the biggest things in these cars, is to be comfortable, so that you can drive the living daylights out of the car. Hopefully I can do a good job for Larry Woodward Racing, and hopefully we can get some good runs in until Brooke (Tatnell) comes back and keep them up in the points."

A New Track Record: Jason Solwold set a new track record at Riverside International Speedway on Saturday night, as he shattered the existing mark by nearly a full second. He toured the semi-banked ¼-mile in 11.060 seconds at 81.374 mph. A total of 36 of the 39 cars that were present broke the track record in time trails.

A Long Trip: After excessive rain and flooding conditions forced the postponement of the World of Outlaws event at Tri-City Speedway on Friday, May 4, Chad Kemenah did not want to waste an opportunity to take to the track. He competed with the All Star Circuit of Champions at his home track of Attica Raceway Park in Ohio on Friday, and finished a very solid fifth. After quickly loading the team's trailer he and his nephew AJ made the 715 mile trek south to Riverside International Speedway, where he turned in the third quickest lap in time trials in his first visit to the track, and came home eighth in the A-Feature, for his third Top-Five finish of the season.

"It took us about 14 hours to get down to Riverside," said Kemenah. "They called off the first race (Tri-City Speedway) and we hadn't left home yet, so we decided at the last minute to go to Attica and run that one. It was quite the drive to get down to Arkansas."

A Legend Takes Some Laps: National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Member Hooker Hood, a native of Memphis, Tennessee was in attendance at Riverside International Speedway for the World of Outlaws return to the track. He took part in an autograph session with World of Outlaws drivers prior to the racing action, and then paced the field before the A-Feature in his famed No. 99 winged sprinter. Hood won countless races at Riverside during the course of his storied career.

A Special Honor: Brooke Tatnell was recently named the Australian Sprintcar Poll (ASP) Driver of the Year. This was the fourth time in his career that he has earned the prestigious honor. Tatnell, a native of San Souci, NSW won his third straight Australian Sprintcar title during the winter. He will be honored on Friday, August 10, during the 47th annual SuperClean Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville Raceway in Iowa.

Looking for Another Win: Shane Carson, who heads Industry Relations for the World of Outlaws, recently filed an entry for the 15th Annual Masters Classic at Knoxville Raceway on Friday, June 1. Carson, a native of Yukon, Oklahoma won the event last season, and will also be inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame on Saturday, June 2 at Knoxville.

-credit: woo

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Sébastien Bourdais , Craig Dollansky , Brooke Tatnell , Daryn Pittman , Joey Saldana , Chad Kemenah , Tim Kaeding