World of Outlaws Wrap-Up: East Coast Swing Concord, NC--May 26, 2009-- A fitting tribute: Joey Saldana won the Outlaw Showdown at The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway live on SPEED on Friday night and dedicated the win to Hall of Fame driver...
World of Outlaws Wrap-Up: East Coast Swing
Concord, NC--May 26, 2009-- A fitting tribute: Joey Saldana won the Outlaw Showdown at The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway live on SPEED on Friday night and dedicated the win to Hall of Fame driver and longtime broadcaster Larry Rice, who passed away earlier in the week. Saldana grew up watching Rice compete against his father Joe and also took in many of the races that Rice was part of the television coverage of. Rice was a three-time USAC (United States Automobile Club) champion and won numerous races across the country in non-wing sprint cars, midgets and Silver Crown cars. He competed twice in his career with the World of Outlaws, with both of those starts coming at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse in 1978 in twin feature events, finishing eighth in the opener.
"For all of us sprint car guys, he was the person you looked to when it came to sprint car racing on television, when sprint car racing was first on TV. Most of us were fans of the Thursday Night Thunder races and Larry was a big part of that. I have a lot of great memories of him when he raced against my dad. It felt like he was with us here in this win."
A career best finish: Sam Hafertepe Jr. picked up the best finish of his career with the World of Outlaws, coming home second on Saturday night at Virginia Motor Speedway. He finished third at the track in the series debut at the half-mile last season. The native of Sunnyvale, Texas has endured more than his fair share of bad luck this season and hopes that the runner-up finish which came on the heels of a strong run at Williams Grove Speedway the previous weekend will be the spark he and his team need as the schedule begins to pick up.
"This Outlaw tour is all about confidence," he shared. "Any driver out here will tell you that. Once you get down on yourself it's hard to get out of that swamp. Lately with this car we have been good. At Williams Grove (Speedway), we were the only Outlaws car in the dash. This car has been really good. We've found something and we're going to keep on working on it and see if we can't get a win before long."
Always looking to improve: Donny Schatz felt like he let a win slip away on Friday night at The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway after starting on the pole and leading the first 19 laps of the event before finishing third. The next night he was seventh at Virginia Motor Speedway before winning at Canandaigua Speedway in New York to wrap up the weekend. He remains the series point leader on the strength of 15 Top-10 with a series-best 12 Top-Five performances, as he chases his fourth consecutive title.
"We messed up a little before the feature, but we learned a lot from it," deadpanned the North Dakota native after Friday night's race. "Unfortunately we gave away a win, but that's how it goes. We were still in the Top-Three and I felt we had a good enough car, I just made some mistakes. If we would have won tonight, we would have forgotten about tonight. We don't dwell on it. We just focus on what is ahead and putting ourselves in a good position."
Getting closer and closer: Jason Sides picked up two Top-Five finishes over the weekend, coming home second on Friday night at The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway and wrapping up the trio of races with a fourth-place performance at Canandaigua Speedway on Monday night as he closes in on his first win of the year. The 2003 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year has 14 Top-10 finishes, with six of those being Top-Fives and is just 10 markers behind Craig Dollansky for the fifth spot in the championship standings.
"If we can go on and just keep getting the Top-Fives the next few races that will be good for us," noted Sides. "We just need a little more luck. We have had some luck and have been running decent. We just need that little bit more."
Closing in on a win: Craig Dollansky finished third at Virginia Motor Speedway on Saturday night as he chases his first win of 2009 and his first victory as part of Kasey Kahne Racing. He is currently fifth in points on the strength of 13 Top-10 finishes with six of those being Top-Fives.
"This is a great team here with Kasey Kahne Racing," said Dollansky. "We have some growing pains that we are going through, but everyone is working hard. My hat is off to Joey (Saldana) and his team. Those guys have been doing a great job. We're working hard and hopefully we get a win here soon."
Back up front: Jason Meyers finished in the Top-10 in all three events over the weekend, highlighted by a fourth-place performance at Virginia Motor Speedway where he was victorious last year in the series debut at the half-mile. He is currently fourth in points on the strength of 14 Top-10 finishes, including two wins.
"We're still struggling getting our car to roll like we want it to, but they are working hard each and every day and I can't thank them enough for all the effort they put in each day," noted Meyers. "We are getting there. We may be taking baby steps, but we are getting there. I think we'll be back on the podium soon with this car."
A new challenge: Lucas Wolfe, the reigning Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award winner, recently signed on to compete in the Firestone Indy Lights Series in 2010 for PDM Racing based out of Indianapolis. Wolfe, who hails from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and cut his teeth on the always tough Central Pennsylvania circuit, will continue to compete with the World of Outlaws for the rest of this season as he chases his first series win. The move to the Indy Pro Series will be Wolfe's first time racing on asphalt since back in his quarter-midget days, which was over 10 years ago.
"I'm extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with so many motivated people who share the same goals," said Wolfe recently. "It will be a great partnership with PDM/Racing Associates and me for the FIL 2010 Championship."
A winning formula: Joey Saldana won two of the three races to wrap up the first East Coast swing of the season and finished fifth in the finale. His Kasey Kahne Racing team worked hard in each of those events making changes to their machine throughout the night and were blazing fast when the feature rolled around in all three races over the weekend. They quickly changed an engine after time trials at Virginia Motor Speedway after something was amiss in the engine they started the night with. The native of Brownsburg, Indiana is currently third in point's just 63 markers behind Donny Schatz as he chases his first series championship.
"You have to stay positive as a team and not give up and that is so easy to do out here," explained Saldana. "There are so many good cars that it's easy to beat yourself up and think you did something wrong. Hopefully we can continue. I know the possibility is there, we just have to make it happen and that's the hard part."
A new mount: Danny Lasoski and his Parsons Motorsports team debuted another new JEI chassis this past weekend, finishing third at Canandaigua Speedway on Memorial Day. It was the second new machine that the Barry Jackson led team has utilized in the past few weeks, debuting the XP-1 a couple weeks back and picking up several Top-Five finishes and a win with that car. Lasoski is currently seventh in points, just 25 points out of the Top-Five on the strength of 13 Top-10 finishes.
"This was a brand new JEI we tried tonight and we are trying to narrow the gap," shared Lasoski. "We dug ourselves a hole in Florida and we are trying to come back. We have been pretty consistent and I think we are getting better and better each week."
Another new car: The World of Outlaws debuted a full-sized cutaway sprint car last Friday at The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway, live on SPEED. The machine built by BR Motorsports out of California will be present at all of the televised events this season to help explain to fans the vast number of different components on a sprint car and what makes them go. The next event that the cutaway car will be at will be the Boothill Showdown at Dodge City Raceway Park in Kansas on June 12-13, with both nights being taped for future broadcast on SPEED.
M.I.A.: It's not very often that a World of Outlaws event pushes off without the help of Work'N Woody, the Official Push Truck and Safety Vehicle of the series, but on Memorial Day that was the case at Canandaigua Speedway, as Eric Malies, who took over from his parents Art and Carol as the owner and operator of Work'N Woody, returned to his home in Florida to attend his daughter Alisha's high school graduation. The second generation pusher will join back up with the series at Lawrenceburg Speedway in Indiana on June 5-6.
Up close and personal: Fans at The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway were able to get up close and personal with all of the sprint car and late model drivers that took part in the Outlaw Showdown last Friday night at the track, including all 12 full-time World of Outlaws drivers during an hour-long autograph session under the main grandstand at the track. Hundreds of fans were able to get autographs and photos of their favorite drivers prior to the racing action.
Photo Gallery: The Media Gallery section of www.WorldofOutlaws.com continues to be updated after each event. Visit www.worldofoutlaws.com/sprint/MediaGallery.aspx to see Photo Galleries from 2009 World of Outlaws events. A Photo Gallery from the three-races over the Memorial Day weekend will be online within the next couple of days.
Keep up with all the action: The number of "Followers" keeping up with the World of Outlaws via Twitter online and through text messages on cell phones continues to grow. Updates are provided throughout race nights beginning with hot laps and continuing all the way through the final checkered flag of the night. To sign-up visit: twitter.com/worldofoutlaws and receive live race updates, anywhere, anytime.
Up next: The World of Outlaws return to the Midwest for a pair of events this weekend beginning on Friday, May 30 at Attica Raceway Park in Ohio followed by a stop at I-96 Speedway in Michigan on Saturday, May 31.