2006 World of Outlaws Season Review: September Concord, NC--Dec. 27, 2006 -- As the Gold Rush Tour continued for the World of Outlaws, the series headed south to open up the month of September in the Golden State, with two big paydays awaiting a...
2006 World of Outlaws Season Review: September
Concord, NC--Dec. 27, 2006 -- As the Gold Rush Tour continued for the World of Outlaws, the series headed south to open up the month of September in the Golden State, with two big paydays awaiting a couple of drivers, in addition to adding their names to a list of prestigious victors in two storied events.
First up was the Harvest Classic at Calistoga Speedway, where Danny Lasoski brought the momentum from his win at Southern Oregon just nights before, to the spacious half-mile in the heart of the Napa Valley wine country.
Lasoski loves big half-mile ovals like Calistoga and it showed on September 2. He executed a perfect move to swipe the lead and then kept his Hoosier tires cool during a green-white-checkered finish to claim the Harvest Classic preliminary feature.
Lasoski, the 2001 World of Outlaws champion, started on the outside of Row 2 and quickly surged to the front, sliding under Paul McMahan in Turn 1 on Lap 7 and charging down the backstretch to extend his advantage.
McMahan hung on to finish second while Craig Dollansky and Joey Saldana earned the remaining positions to be locked into the main event the following night.
"This car has been working real good," Lasoski said. "Dennis Roth gave us a great opportunity to capitalize on it this race. I took off real hard, and looked down at my tires and it was going on the left, so I knew my right rear was going too. I was at half throttle the last few laps, just so I would make it."
Heading into the finale of the Harvest Classic, it appeared that it would be a battle between Lasoski and Dollansky who was also strong on the preliminary night.
Dollansky started on the outside of the front row and jumped out front in the first corner and held off Lasoski exiting the final turn to capture the $12,000-win.
Following a restart with 13 laps to go, Dollansky, managed to keep one lapped car between himself and Lasoski.
Lasoski finally cleared the traffic as he and Dollansky came down the front stretch for the final time at the half-mile oval, but Dollansky had enough horsepower to win a World of Outlaws A-feature event for the fifth time this season and the first time in his career at Calistoga Speedway. Donny Schatz was third, with Joey Saldana fourth, and rookie Jeremy Campbell rounding out the Top-Five.
"When you get a race car like that, you have to win," Dollansky said. "My guys, Rob, Dave, Eric, and Matt did a great job getting that car ready for racing tonight."
With his win, Dollansky was able to close to within 14 points of Saldana in the championship standings as the pair battled for second, as they both trailed Schatz by over 300 points, heading into the famed Gold Cup Race of Champion at Silver Dollar Speedway. Dollansky would keep his momentum rolling on the first night of the three-day event.
Dollansky may call Minnesota home, but he took a great liking to the state of California in early September. On September 2 he scored a third place finish in the preliminary feature at Calistoga Speedway. He followed that up by winning the A-Feature the following night. On September 7 at Silver Dollar Speedway in the first preliminary night of the Gold Cup Race of Champions, Dollansky kept his Golden State hot streak alive, as he powered his way to a win.
Dollansky charged his way past Danny Lasoski on lap 13 to take the lead and then masterfully weaved his way through heavy traffic to pick up his second preliminary feature win of the season.
Dollansky started on the pole and led the first five laps. Lasoski dove low coming off turn four to take the lead on lap six, before Dollansky tracked him down in traffic to make his way to the winner's circle. Andy Forsberg was third, followed by Paul McMahan and Mike Henry.
"It's nice to pick up a prelim win and hopefully put ourselves in a good position for Saturday night," Dollansky said. "The ultimate goal it to get that one on Saturday night. We've been close here the past couple of years, and winning tonight hopefully will put us in a good spot for Saturday."
Championship point leader Donny Schatz took a wild ride in the fourth heat as he battled for the final transfer position. The fuel tank ripped off his car as it flipped violently off the second turn, erupting in flames. He walked away from the wreck but was done for the night and was taken to a local hospital for precautionary measures.
On the second night, 62 competitors took to the track including Jason Solwold who was in search of his first trip to winner's circle in World of Outlaws action.
Solwold felt right at home on Friday night at Silver Dollar Speedway as the sun went down and the temperature steadily dropped. Being from the state of Washington, he is used to racing in cool conditions and feels like he is at the top of his game when the air is brisk.
While the track cooled down as the night went on, Solwold kept warming up. He started the evening by turning the second fastest lap in qualifying. He followed that up with a fourth-place run in his heat race to secure a spot in the dash. He finished second in the dash to line up on the outside of the second row for Friday night's event.
Solwold held off a hard charging Jac Haudenschild to visit RacinSoles Victory Lane for the first time with the World of Outlaws as he picked up the preliminary feature win on the second night of the Gold Cup Race of Champions.
Solwold shot to the outside of Haudenschild on the start entering turn one and completed the pass in turn two. Haudenschild fought back and used the high line around the quarter-mile to keep pace with Solwold, who led all 30 laps. The rest of the Top-Five was Daryn Pittman, Brad Sweet, and Stevie Smith.
"It's good," said a smiling Solwold. "It's the first Outlaws event that I have won. It's a preliminary, but it's good to have one of those on your resume. We had a good car tonight. There were a lot more cars tonight and that may have been a factor in why the track took rubber halfway through there. It was a good race."
After finishing third, Pittman gladly stated that he would take that finish, if he could come back and win the $50,000 finale the following night.
Pittman lined up for the finale in the second spot, and powered his way to the lead on the first lap going to the outside of Jason Solwold in the first turn. The native of Owasso, Okla., ended up leading all 40 laps to pick up the event record $50,000 winner's check.
Jac Haudenschild made a late charge on the high side of the track and finished just inches short of a win for the second straight night. Haudenschild powered off the fourth turn and corralled his sliding car to cross the finish line just behind Pittman.
In the first couple laps of the race, Craig Dollansky closed in on Pittman. A couple of quick cautions gave Pittman a clean race track, and he was the master of restarts all night long. Rounding out the Top-Five was Dollansky, Lasoski, and Paul McMahan.
"This is by far one of the biggest wins of my career," said Pittman. "Chico is one that every sprint car driver in the country dreams of winning. There are only about 20 or 30 guys that can say that and our name is on that list."
After taking a provisional to start the A-Feature point leader Schatz, powered his way to an eighth-place finish in the Gold Cup, as the series headed back to the Midwest for the 1/3-Mile Short Track Nationals at Eagle (Neb.) Raceway, where Schatz would put on another spectacular show for the fans.
Starting outside of the top-10 on a bullring usually makes for a long evening. Schatz knew he had his work cut out for him after qualifying 15th at Eagle. After finishing third in his heat, he lined up in the 15th spot for the 40-lap 1/3-mile Short Track Nationals driving car No.15. He knew he had a fast race car, and plenty of laps to make it to the front.
When it was all said and done, Schatz was in RacinSoles Victory Lane for the 13th time this season in A-Feature competition to go along with two preliminary feature wins.
The reigning Knoxville Nationals winner methodically worked his way into the top-10 early in the race. While running fourth, he made a bold three-wide pass of Chad Blonde and Daryn Pittman to put himself in the runner-up spot.
A late red flag set up a four lap dash for the win between Schatz and the leader Brooke Tatnell. With two laps to go, Tatnell went high and jumped the cushion and that was the opening that Schatz needed to power his way to the lead. Behind Tatnell it was Dollansky in third, Daryn Pittman in fourth, and Chad Blonde in fifth.
"It was a great night," said Schatz. "We changed the car all night long. It is a new car. Our primary car got wrecked at Chico (Silver Dollar Speedway) and we pulled out our back-up car. We decided to put the primary car back together when we got back to the shop. Every car is a little different. It was a real good car in the feature. We just couldn't get it figured out early in the night."
Dollansky was able to move into the second spot in points with his strong finish. Schatz has a commanding lead and would keep his momentum rolling the following night at Jackson (Minn.) Speedway
He started on the pole position for a series best eighth time this season after winning his series leading eighth dash.
The reigning Knoxville Nationals winner led the most laps on the night and received four bonus points for this, along with receiving one bonus point for being the fifth fastest qualifier on the night. This helped him extend his point lead with nine races remaining as he chases his first series title.
On the initial start, Becca Anderson got a strong run on Schatz on the outside of turn two and took the lead. She would extend that lead to nearly a half straight-a-way during the first five laps. She got into lapped traffic on the sixth circuit and that gave Schatz the chance he needed to quickly close back in on her back bumper.
On the tenth lap, Anderson had to hit the brakes in traffic and that allowed Schatz to get a run on her down the straight and he dove low in turns one and two to make the pass for the lead and ultimately the win.
Anderson, who led the first nine laps of the 30-lap event, kept Schatz in her sights until a lap 18 caution for a broken left sideboard on the wing of her car. She restarted in the second spot, but had to pull into the infield a couple laps of laps later, as the car would not cooperate with the missing panel. She ended the night in 22nd.
Schatz pulled away on the final restart and encountered some traffic with four laps to go, but was able to slice his way through the slower car to make his way to RacinSoles Victory Lane. He held off Joey Saldana, with Craig Dollansky, Terry McCarl, and Mark Dobmeier following.
"We were in the right spot all night long," said Schatz. "We qualified in the right spot and started the dash in the right spot. The race track was fast. It was hard to race on. We were just glad we started up there and we were able to get by Becca (Anderson) in lapped traffic."
Schatz continued to lead the points as the series headed to Wilmot (Wisc.) Speedway for their maiden voyage to the bullring. Heavy rain forced the event to be postponed until October, and the teams made the trip south to Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway on Sept. 24, where Craig Dollansky looked to continue his hot streak on quarter-mile tracks.
It is not very often that a 40-lap sprint car race on a quarter-mile track is completed without any cautions. It is even more surprising to have all 24 cars that start the feature still running when the checkered flag flies.
On Sunday at Kokomo Speedway as the World of Outlaws and the All Star Circuit of Champions proved that both of these can be done in the same night, as they completed a non-stop A-Feature in just over eight and a half minutes.
Craig Dollansky was the main benefactor of this, as he led all 40 laps to make his sixth trip of the year to RacinSoles Victory Lane.
Dollansky started on the pole got the jump on a hard charging and determined Justin Henderson and Joey Saldana to take the lead into the first turn. From there, he would set a blistering pace, lapping up to ninth place on the racy quarter-mile.
McCarl made a late charge and worked his way to a runner-up finish, after starting the event in the eighth spot. The native of Altoona, Iowa got bottled up in traffic and lost some ground and ended up running out of laps.
Donny Schatz put in an impressive showing, powering his way from the 16th starting spot to come home third, all without a single caution to bunch the field. Dale Blaney was fourth, with Joey Saldana rounding out the Top-Five.
For Dollansky the win snapped a streak of three straight third-place finishes. It also was his 28th top-five of the season, as sits solidly in second spot in the championship standings.
"The car definitely felt real good tonight," said Dollansky. "The crew worked hard all night. Having a good car helps get yourself in position to win. Starting on the front row helped, but we had a lot of lapped traffic to deal with. It was a good strong run for the Karavan team. I'm happy for the entire team."
With the famed Williams Grove National Open on the horizon, Schatz continued to hold a commanding lead in the standings, as he chased his first World of Outlaws title.
Experience certainly plays a big role in being successful at Williams Grove Speedway. Jason Solwold does not have quite as much track time on the historic half-mile as many of the other 62 competitors he took on Friday night, in the first night of the National Open, that pit the World of Outlaws Sprint Series against the Pennsylvania Posse. But with every lap he does take at the storied facility, Solwold feels more comfortable in the car and gains more confidence.
This confidence increased exponentially on Friday night as he made his way to RacinSoles Victory Lane.
Solwold slid around Michael Carber in turn one after a lap 13 restart to capture the preliminary feature win that kicked off the prestigious event.
Soldwold then held off a very hard charging and determined Doug Esh during a final three lap shootout. For Esh, it was his best career finish in a World of Outlaws event. Behind the lead duo, it was Jeff Shepard, Pittman, and Carber.
"Williams Grove is always a fun place to come to, and I am pretty excited about winning here," said Solwold. "Usually it takes a long time to win here, especially against there guys."
Solwold and Esh appeared to be the cars to be heading into the finale of the $50,000-to win event.
In the finale, Esh used his outside front row starting spot to take the lead on the low side of turn two on the opening circuit of the scheduled 40-lap event, and led the rest of the way. He used a yellow flag on lap 26 to his advantage, as a persistent rain began to fall, that would eventually bring the National Open to a close, and put him in the record books scoring his first career World of Outlaws A-Feature win.
Dollansky was second, with Schatz third, Lucas Wolfe fourth, and Chad Layton rounding out the Top-Five.
"I don't even know if I have words to describe it," said an ecstatic Esh holding the winner's trophy. "I have never even raced for 50-grand before. To come out here and win it, is flat incredible. I still think I should wake up and quit dreaming."
With just six events remaining, Schatz took a 314-point lead back to Knoxville Raceway in early October for Budweiser Night, which was postponed by rain in April.
Up Next: A review of the World of Outlaws Sprint Series events from the month of October.