Hillenburg Steals Portland Preliminary PORTLAND, OR (August 24) -- August has been a tough month for Andy Hillenburg. The 1988 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series Rookie of the Year suffered a concussion in a crash at Eldora Speedway and was unable...
Hillenburg Steals Portland Preliminary
PORTLAND, OR (August 24) -- August has been a tough month for Andy Hillenburg. The 1988 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series Rookie of the Year suffered a concussion in a crash at Eldora Speedway and was unable to race in the Amoco Ultimate Knoxville Nationals.
Hillenburg turned his fortunes around Friday when the series opened a double-feature event at Portland Speedway, however, passing Jeff Shepard in turn four as they headed for the checkered flag to win his second Preliminary Feature of the season.
"I feel pretty good tonight," Hillenburg said. "The last couple of tracks bounced me around pretty good, but tonight was smooth as glass and actually kind of slick. I'm feeling better every day. Another one of these (winner's trophies) will make me feel even better."
Hillenburg, the third-fastest qualifier in the 27-car field, finished fourth in the Third O'Reilly Heat Race despite crashing with three-time series champion Sammy Swindell during the opening lap. He earned the right to start the 25-lap Preliminary Feature outside the third row by finishing sixth in the Channellock Dash.
Paul McMahan, who won his fourth Channellock Dash of the season, burst into the lead from the pole as the green flag fell in the evening's main event. Second O'Reilly Heat Race winner Joey Saldana raced into third place early, only to have fast-qualifier Tim Shaffer pass him high in turn four late in the first lap.
Dale Blaney drove his brother and Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series champion Dave Blaney's #10 U.S. Print/MBNA/Mopar Maxim deep in the second corner to pass Hillenburg for seventh place 2 1/2 laps later.
McMahan was .1 seconds of Shepard when the leaders entered lapped traffic during the fifth lap.
Hillenburg started making his way toward the front during the 10th lap, passing Blaney in the low groove between turns one and two.
Shepard kept pace with McMahan in traffic and almost passed him for the lead in the fourth corner one lap later. Shaffer caught the leaders early in lap 13, and passed Shepard with an inside move in turn two.
McMahan was trying to lap Gus Cooper the next time around when they collided and crashed into the retaining wall in the first corner, giving Shaffer the lead.
Hillenburg was on the move when the green flag replaced the yellow, passing Craig Dollansky in the low groove between turns one and two early in the 16th lap, and taking the inside line through the fourth corner to pass fellow Oklahoman Danny Wood for third place five laps later.
The engine in the #11H Vivarin Maxim started misfiring with five laps remaining, but Shaffer continued to lead the race in lapped traffic. Shepard passed him in the low groove between turns one and two with 1 2/3 laps remaining, however.
Shepard, who won the first Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series "A" Feature of his career at Central State Fair Speedway the night before, appeared to have the race won when the white flag fell. But the determined Hillenburg caught him in turn three and threaded his #2 Luxaire J&J between Shepard and the inside berm in the fourth corner to pass him for the $5,000 victory. Shepard was only .09 seconds behind when Hillenburg took the checkered flag.
"There at the beginning, I think Dale was a little quicker than I was," Hillenburg said, "but then we got into traffic and a lapped car was sitting right in his line. Actually, I think traffic was the big thing tonight. We got to working down low there pretty good, and these Hoosier tires really came on strong the last few laps."
Shepard's runner-up run pushed him past Saldana into eighth place in the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series point standings.
Dollansky drove Karavan Racing's #7 Polydome Maxim past Shaffer during the final lap to claim third place. Wood finished fifth, ahead of Saldana, Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Mark Kinser, Randy Hannagan, Blaney and 13th-starting Danny Lasoski.
Shaffer paced the qualifying session for the sixth time this year, circling the semi-banked, 1/2-mile oval at an average speed of 105.721.