Championship Battle Looks to Heat up Even More as the World of Outlaws Invade Williams Grove Speedway Mechanicsburg, PA-May 13, 2010- Racing 70-plus times a year, the World of Outlaws championship certainly is not determined by two races, but ...
Championship Battle Looks to Heat up Even More as the World of Outlaws Invade Williams Grove Speedway
Mechanicsburg, PA-May 13, 2010- Racing 70-plus times a year, the World of Outlaws championship certainly is not determined by two races, but when those two races are at the famed Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania, they can play a huge role when the points shake out at the end of the year, as a very large field of cars is expected both tonight and Friday night at the famed half-mile, as the series pays their first of three separate visits to the famed half-mile this season.
With 15 races in the books, the 2010 championship battle is shaping up to be another of the most hotly contested in series history, following the closest ever three-way battle last season that saw Donny Schatz edge Jason Meyers by a mere 19 points for the title with Joey Saldana third only 70 markers behind.
Heading into the pair of events at Williams Grove Speedway tonight and tomorrow, just three points separate current series leader Steve Kinser and Meyers, while Saldana is just 20 markers out of the top spot in third, with Schatz, the four-time and defending series champion, well within striking distance at 87 markers back in fourth.
Kinser leads the charge into Williams Grove, having won nearly 40 times at the track over the years with the series. His most recent win there came in the spring of 2008. In his amazing career, the 20-time World of Outlaws champion has over 100 Top-10 finishes with the series at Williams Grove and nearly 100 Top-Five performances. He has been victorious at the track in 18 different seasons over the years. Kinser leads the World of Outlaws this season with 14 Top-10 finishes and 11 Top-Fives this year as he chases his record 21st title. He enters this week's trio of events with a couple of wins on the year aboard the Bass Pro Shops Maxim.
"Williams Grove isn't your typical track," noted Kinser. "The local guys race there every week and maybe that gives them a little bit of an edge. We understand they like to protect their turf but, at the same time, it's important for us to go in and win some races, too. Last year, I don't think any of the Outlaws teams had a whole lot of success. I think it started with qualifying, and those guys are tough when you have to chase them down. Our races have been really competitive this year, so I hope we can go out there and win a couple of races."
Jason Meyers, who led the World of Outlaws standings from March 20 until last Saturday, is currently tied for the series lead with four wins and 14 Top-10 finishes as he chases his first series title. He is also looking for his first win at Williams Grove, where he finished third twice last season aboard the GLR Investments KPC and has been on the podium three times in his career.
"We always look forward to going out there," said Meyers. "Charlie Garrett does our motors and he's from out there and that's his home track. I hear everyday on the phone how I haven't won there yet. We've been working hard this year and have a great race car with a great engine package. Hopefully we can go out there and do well against the Posse."
Joey Saldana ran very strong last fall at Williams Grove Speedway, coming home second in the finale of the rained delayed Summer Nationals which was completed in October, following the National Open, which saw him charge from 25th to finish seventh. Saldana has one career win with the World of Outlaws at Williams Grove, with that coming in a preliminary feature in 2002. Saldana is tied for the series lead with four wins this season and has racked up 12 Top-10 finishes with 10 of those being Top-Fives, despite racing for the last month and a half with a broken left hand that has 10 screws and a plate inserted in it.
"I really am looking forward to going out there," Saldana said of Williams Grove. "It's been a struggle for myself there. I was lucky enough to win a prelim night out there in '02 or '03, but since then it's been a struggle for me. I don't know if it's something I'm doing wrong or what, but it always seems to hurt us in the points. Hopefully we can go in there this year and stay focused. Everything we are doing right now seems to be working everywhere else, so hopefully it will work at the Grove as well."
Donny Schatz has been very strong at Williams Grove over the course of the last five years, scoring seven wins over that span, along finishing eighth or better in 15 consecutive races at the track and in 22 of his last 23 starts there aboard the Armor All/STP J&J. During his career, Schatz has racked up 15 wins at Williams Grove Speedway, which is the third most of any World of Outlaws drivers at the facility.
"Williams Grove has been a good place for us to race the past few years," said Schatz. "That doesn't guarantee us anything this week, but we'd sure like to start another streak of wins there. First things first, though. We have to start by putting a good qualifying lap on the board and then take it one step at time after that."
Meyers has 17 career Top-10 finishes with the World of Outlaws at Williams Grove, with nine of those being Top-Five runs. He has finished eighth or better in five of his last six starts at the challenging half-mile with four of those being Top-Five performances. He set fast time at the track last season in the opener of the Summer Nationals and was fifth quick in the finale of that two-day event.
"It seems like you learn something every time you go back there, but with the new tire package a lot of that will go out the window," noted the California native. "We'll have to see what we have when we get in there. I think we have had a pretty good all around race car at most race tracks. The Grove is an animal of its own, but the guys have been working hard and I think we're ready and we'll find out what we have here shortly."
Saldana, who makes no bones about it that he and his team have struggled at Williams Grove the last few years, is looking to go back to a set-up that worked in the past. Following a win at Eldora Speedway last weekend in which they went back to a set-up from 2008, they look to go into Williams Grove with some momentum and confidence for this week's pair of races aboard the Budweiser Maxim.
"Sprint car racing is not rocket science," quipped Saldana. "You don't have to have a college degree or anything. You just have to be smart and make smart calls and be smart with what you are doing with your race car and we went back to that and had a dominant race car last Friday at Eldora. A lot of times it's just about being simple and racing the race car and not making it harder than it is. Maybe we have been going into the Grove and making it harder than it needs to be. If we go there and race it like any other race, we should be fine."
Meyers, who has had one of the most consistent starts to the 2010 campaign is looking forward to tackling Williams Grove Speedway today and tomorrow and battling what will be one of the most stout field of cars the series will face all season.
"Any time you are on the Outlaws Tour, you have to go into a race track with an open mind," stated Meyers. "The Grove you definitely work very very hard for and you have four days this week to get ready for the next three races and you spend three of those days getting ready for those two races at The Grove. It's a very important weekend, not only are there big money races there in July and October, but it's an important points weekend. It's a place where a lot of cars can get between you and the points competitors you are going against for the championship. It's important to run strong out there on many different levels and we're working hard at it and hope to have a good weekend."
On Thursday, May 13 at Williams Grove Speedway, general admission tickets will be $28, with tickets for those ages 13-20 $15 and kids ages 12-under will be admitted free of charge. For ticket information visit www.williamsgrove.com or call the track at 717-697-5000.
On Friday, May 14 at Williams Grove Speedway, with tickets for those ages 13-20 $15 and kids ages 12-under will be admitted free of charge. For ticket information visit www.williamsgrove.com or call the track at 717-697-5000.