Outlaws'' Opener at I-80 Race Report 2000-05-05

Herrera Returns to Victory Lane at I-80 By Richard Day GREENWOOD, NE (May 5) -- Since winning the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' 2000 season opener at Kings Speedway February 25th, Johnny Herrera...

Herrera Returns to Victory Lane at I-80 By Richard Day GREENWOOD, NE (May 5) -- Since winning the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' 2000 season opener at Kings Speedway February 25th, Johnny Herrera has enjoyed little success. Herrera made car owner Craig Cormack's return to Nebraska quite a homecoming Friday, however, leading all 25 laps while winning the Preliminary Feature at I-80 Speedway. "We won the first race of the year and haven't done much since then," Johnny said. "Hopefully, this is the end of that dry spell. It's great to win here. Craig and Linda (Cormack) are from Lincoln, and I'm glad they could be here to see it. We'll come back tomorrow night and try to pick up where we left off." The $5,000 victory gave Herrera the pole position in Saturday's Second CHANNELLOCK Dash. Despite qualifying 16th-quick among the 28 cars in the Vivarin qualifying session, Herrera won the Fourth NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race and the Second CHANNELLOCK Dash for the right to start the Preliminary Feature next to his close friend, Joey Saldana, on the front row. Although 10 years separate their Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series Rookie of the Year awards, Herrera and Saldana have been friends ever since Joey's first year with the series. They even married ladies named Shannon in a double ceremony in Las Vegas the night after the series' 1996 awards banquet. Herrera and Saldana raced wheel-to-wheel down the front straightaway as the green flag fell in the Preliminary Feature. Saldana's #17 HEM Saw Eagle turned sideways in the first corner, and five cars passed him as he battled to keep the car under control. He received a big break, however, when Dale Blaney spun in turn four and Christi Passmore hit him and turned over, bringing out the red flag. Saldana was a little too eager to take the lead when the race resumed. His false start put Third NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race winner Lance Blevins on the pole. Herrera drove the #20 Networks/Eagle Raceway Eagle around Blevins to take the lead during the restart. Danny Lasoski and Tyler Walker exchanged seventh place three laps into the race, "The Dude" taking the low line into turn two before Walker came back with a high move in the third corner. Herrera entered lapped traffic with an eight car-length advantage and Saldana used an inside move in the second corner to pass Sammy Swindell for the runner-up spot two laps later. Saldana caught Herrera between turns one and two early in the 10th lap, but was unable to surge ahead. Herrera raced through lapped traffic with ease during the next six laps and opened a 15-car-length advantage as Swindell challenged Saldana for second place. Herrera lost his comfortable advantage and Walker surrendered eighth place the next time around when the #V12 Wirtgen Maxim flipped in the first corner. Andy Hillenburg, who started outside the eighth row, was on the move when the race resumed, passing Lasoski and Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Steve Kinser deep in turn one to take over sixth place. Saldana caught Herrera again as the leaders caught the backmarkers in the fourth corner late in lap 22, but was unable to take the lead. Lasoski picked up a point on "The King of the Outlaws" with a turn-two pass for seventh place early in the final lap. Herrera was eight car-lengths ahead of Saldana when he took the checkered flag. "I knew if I could time the traffic just right in the corners, those guys would have a hard time getting by me," Herrera explained. "The top was really fast and if you went to the bottom at the wrong time in traffic, it would just kill your momentum." Swindell and Blevins earned the second-row starting positions in Saturday's Second CHANNELLOCK Dash for finishing third and fourth. Daryn Pittman finished fifth, ahead of Hillenburg, Lasoski, Kinser, Donny Schatz and Vivarin Fast-Time award winner Jac Haudenschild. Haudenschild received his third Vivarin Fast-Time award of the year for pacing the qualifying session with a 14.250-second, 101.053-m.p.h., lap around the semi-banked, 4/10-mile oval. Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year points leader Danny Wood hit the front-straightaway retaining wall early in the Second NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race, sending the #21W Pepsi Avenger flipping. Wood started at the rear of the "B" Feature in a backup car and qualified for the evening's main event by finishing in fourth place. Wood raced past eight cars to finish 16th in the Preliminary Feature. Mark Kinser, who won the first four "A" Features the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series ran at I-80, was leading the Fourth NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race when the #5M Mopar Maxim suffered a blown engine. Mark won the "B" Feature then finished 11th in the Preliminary Feature. WoO

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Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Andy Hillenburg , Mark Kinser , Danny Lasoski , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Tyler Walker , Christi Passmore , Daryn Pittman , Joey Saldana , Jac Haudenschild , Johnny Herrera