World of Outlaws Wrap-Up: Thunderbowl Raceway Concord, NC-March 8, 2010 Some special guests: Jason Meyers and the Elite Racing team had a couple of very special guests at Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway on Friday night, as 14-time NHRA...
World of Outlaws Wrap-Up: Thunderbowl Raceway
Concord, NC-March 8, 2010
Some special guests: Jason Meyers and the Elite Racing team had a couple of very special guests at Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway on Friday night, as 14-time NHRA Funny Car Champion and drag racing legend John Force was on hand, along with his son-in-law, Robert Hight, who is the defending Funny Car titlist. The Elite Racing shop in Brownsburg, Indiana is housed at the state-of-the-art John Force Racing facility. Gary Scelzi, a fellow NHRA champion was also in attendance at Tulare, as he hails from nearby Fresno.
"They had a great time," shared Meyers of Force and Hight. "I realized the other day that they would be down in the area, so I gave John (Force) a call and invited him and Robert (Hight) over. It was cool that they were able to make it over. Ever since we moved in with John there and have gotten to know those guys, we've been trying to get them to a race, but they have very busy schedules. It was great that they took time out of their evening, when they could have been home with their families to come over here and see some great short track racing and spend some time up in the grandstands with the fans. They are really great about that. It was great to have them down and of course they come out to the first race to see us and we win. It couldn^Zt be much better. They are great guys and to see them out here supporting our sport is awesome."
Winning one for his son: Joey Saldana has a lot of fans around the world, but his biggest two fans are his wife Shannon and his son Reece. He dedicated his win on Saturday night to Reece, who comes to a number of World of Outlaws events each season. Reece was not at Tulare, but rather back home in Indiana taking part in a wrestling tournament, where he ended up finishing second, after making it to the final round.
"This one is for my son Reece," said Saldana in Victory Lane on Saturday night. "He lost in wrestling today and was a little upset. This should put a smile on his face."
A little wing damage: Jac Haudenschild sustained some significant damage to the top wing on his machine on Friday night, though that did not slow him down as he wound finishing a season-best third. He began the night by turning in the fourth-fastest lap in time trials and followed that up with a second-place effort in the fourth heat race to earn a spot in the dash for the first time this season. He moved up to second near the halfway point of the race and kept pace with the lead duo of Jason Meyers and Joey Saldana late in the contest, despite the crumpled top wing.
"It messed it up a little bit, but it wasn't too bad on a short track," shared Haudenschild. "On a half-mile we would have been in trouble."
First time visitor: Fred Rahmer made the first two starts of his legendary career in California over the weekend at Thunderbowl Raceway. The Pennsylvania native won the dash on Friday night to earn the pole position in the 35-lap main event and wound up finishing sixth in his debut at the high-banked 1/3-mile bullring. He charged from the 14th starting spot in the finale to finish a very impressive third. The Hall of Famer and his team had a helping hand from a fellow Hall of Famer, as multi-time King of California Brent Kaeding helped them with their set-up both nights.
"This is a lot different than any place I have ever driven," noted Rahmer before racing began on Saturday night. "I should have done a little better job driving (on Friday night). The guys had the car good. It was exciting, I^Zll you that much. Hopefully we^Zll be ok tonight. I'd be lost if he (Kaeding) was not helping us out. It's a different program here, so we would have been in trouble. He has been a huge help to us."
And then there were four: Joey Saldana, Jason Meyers, Steve Kinser and Jason Sides are the only drivers that have finished in the Top-10 in all five of the World of Outlaws events in 2010. Saldana, who took over the point lead after his win on Saturday night, has a win, three runner-up finishes and a sixth-place effort to his credit. Meyers has two wins, a runner-up finish, along with a fourth and sixth. Kinser has a win, a second, a third, a fifth and a sixth. Sides has a fourth, a fifth, two ninth-place finishes and a 10th.
A change at the top Joey Saldana moved into the top spot in the World of Outlaws championship standings after his win on Saturday night. He currently leads Jason Meyers by seven points with Steve Kinser third- nine markers out, with Donny Schatz fourth and Jason Sides fifth. The weekend at Tulare opened with Kinser leading Schatz by two points, with Saldana third- 12 points out and Meyers fourth- 16 markers back. After the opener at Tulare, Kinser and Schatz were tied for the point lead with Saldana third, just three points out and Meyers fourth, only six markers behind. Three times in five races so far this season there has been a change at the top of the standings.
A new track record: For the second consecutive year the track record at Thunderbowl Raceway was broken during World of Outlaws time trials. Tim Kaeding turned a lap of 12.651 seconds to break the existing mark of 12.713 that Terry McCarl had set in 2009. Kaeding, second fastest qualifier Lucas Wolfe and third quick Joey Saldana all broke the existing track record in the opener at Tulare. It was the first track record established this season after 10 were set last year at World of Outlaws events.
Starting the night on a strong note: Lucas Wolfe was quickest in time trials on Saturday night to earn his first fast time honor of the 2010 season. He opened the weekend by turning the second fastest lap on Friday night at Thunderbowl Raceway. Unfortunately bad luck befell the 2008 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year on Friday night as he was running fourth with just five laps remaining when he lost a rear end. The bad luck plagues him again the next night as he was running third in the finale on the 14th lap when a broken driveshaft ended his night.
"A first and a second is our best qualifying of the season," said Wolfe after time trials on Saturday night. "Hopefully that trend will continue. We've had pretty good results in the races this year we just haven^Zt qualified well so we^Zve started at the back."
Gaining momentum: Kraig Kinser picked up his best finish of the season coming home fourth on Saturday night at Tulare after finishing eighth in the opener. The third generation driver is back home in 2010 driving for his father Steve^Zs team, with whom he has had a lot of success in the past including winning the 2005 Knoxville Nationals. The younger Kinser is currently sixth in point and has three Top-10 finishes this season.
"We qualified good tonight as opposed to last night," he noted after his Top-Five run on Saturday. "We were good last night (Friday) in the feature and continue to run good here tonight on a track that was tough for a lot of people this weekend and we're fortunate that we got to roll it (the car) into the trailer this weekend."
Hard charger: Chad Kemenah, who returned to the road full-time with the World of Outlaws in 2010, scored his best finish of the season on Friday night at Thunderbowl Raceway. The 2006 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year started 17th and finished seventh to earn the KSE Race Products Hard Charger Award.
"It wasn't too bad," stated Kemenah of his run last Friday night. "Some of it was that we had some wrecks in front of us, but we were passing some race cars. Hopefully that will give us a little motivation to keep going a little better every night here. We've been struggling so far, but we^Zll keep trying."
Signing on: Terry McCarl and Big Game Motorsports have signed on to be full-time Platinum Members with the World of Outlaws in 2010. They now will be eligible for series provisionals as well as tow money and other benefits that are accrued to full-time Platinum teams that travel the circuit. McCarl has finished among the Top-10 in the World of Outlaws championship standings three times in his career. He began 2010 with nine career A-Feature wins with the series.
Career best finish Ben Gregg, one of the contenders for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award with the World of Outlaws in 2010, picked up his best-career finish with the series on Saturday night at Thunderbowl Raceway coming home 11th. It was the third consecutive year that the native of Phoenix has competed at the high-banked 1/3-mile bullring. He currently leads Toni Lutar in the chase for the rookie title by 63 markers.
Tune in: Steve Kinser will join host Tim Tuttle on the On Track On Radio show this afternoon (Monday, March 8) at 4:45 p.m. Eastern. The show can be heard online at www.racefanradio.com. Tuttle will talk to the 20-time series champion about his strong start to the 2010 campaign driving for Tony Stewart Racing as a teammate to four-time and defending series champion Donny Schatz.
Up next: The World of Outlaws head to the Lone Star State for the Second Annual Texas Two-Step Weekend, beginning at Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore on Friday, March 12, followed by a stop at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown on Saturday, March 13.