WORLD OF OUTLAWS SPRINT SERIES: THE WEEK AT A GLANCE Colorado Springs, CO -- March 1, 2005 WHAT: The World of Outlaws Sprint Series Cactus Classic March 4 and 5 at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz. Manzanita is a 1/2-mile dirt oval that ...
WORLD OF OUTLAWS SPRINT SERIES: THE WEEK AT A GLANCE
Colorado Springs, CO -- March 1, 2005
WHAT: The World of Outlaws Sprint Series Cactus Classic March 4 and 5 at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz. Manzanita is a 1/2-mile dirt oval that traditionally produces some of the fastest speeds anywhere on the circuit. The two-night event promoted by SLS Promotions features a $5,000-to-win preliminary race Friday followed by a $12,000-to-win feature Saturday.
WHERE: Take I-10 to exit 141 and go four miles south on 35th Avenue to West Broadway.
WHEN: Grandstand gates are slated to open at 4 p.m. (local time) with hot laps at 6 p.m.
TELEVISION: The Outdoor Channel will broadcast coverage of the Cactus Classic at 8 p.m. (Eastern) on March 23.
ABOUT THE TRACK: Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz., is a semi-banked 1/2-mile clay oval that was one of the original stops during the World of Outlaws inaugural 1978 season. The Outlaws returned to Manzy last season for the first time since 1999, but Jac Haudenschild still owns the track record for an Outlaws event when he turned in a 15.340-second lap on Jan. 30, 1997.
PREVIOUS WINNERS: Steve Kinser on Feb. 21, 2004; Mark Kinser on Feb. 27, 1999; Donny Schatz on Oct. 23, 1999; Jac Haudenschild on Feb. 21, 1998; Tyler Walker on Oct. 24, 1998; Sammy Swindell on Jan. 31, 1997; Mark Kinser on Nov. 1, 1997; Steve Kinser on Oct. 26, 1996; Steve Kinser on March 23, 1991; Steve Kinser on Feb. 13, 1988; Steve Kinser on March 11, 1987; Steve Kinser on Oct. 31, 1987; Steve Kinser on March 1, 1986; Sammy Swindell on June 21, 1980; Steve Kinser on Sept. 15, 1979; Tim Green on Oct. 13, 1979; and Lealand McSpadden on Oct. 14, 1978.
NEWS & NOTES
* The field is set: DIRT MotorSports reached deals with all the drivers in the Mean 15 Saturday in Bakersfield. The 2005 edition of the impressive collection of sprint car racers includes Craig Dollansky (No. 7 owned by Karavan Motorsports), Tim Kaeding (No. 83 owned by Dennis Roth), Kraig Kinser (No. 11k owned by Steve Kinser Racing), Mark Kinser (No. 35 owned by Rick Wright), Steve Kinser (No. 11 owned by Steve Kinser Racing), Danny Lasoski (No. 20 owned by Tony Stewart Motorsports), Paul McMahan (No. 11h owned by David Helm), Jason Meyers (No. 14 owned by the Elite Racing Team), Brian Paulus (No. 28 owned by Pender Motorsports), Daryn Pittman (No. 21 owned by Titan Racing), Joey Saldana (No. 2 owned by Woodward Racing), Donny Schatz (No. 15 owned by Schatz Motorsports), Tim Shaffer (No. 6 owned by Parsons Motorsports), Jason Sides (No. 7s owned by Sides Motorsports), and Brandon Wimmer (No. 7tw owned by Wimmer-Luck Racing).
* On tour, too: Although not technically in the Mean 15, there are several other drivers who have committed to running the bulk of the schedule with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series in 2005 with hopes of earning a spot in a future Mean 15. Included in this group is Terry McCarl, who has won the past six 410 sprint championships at Knoxville Raceway; Shane Stewart, a proven winner in several series who is currently seventh in points with the Outlaws; Randy Hannagan, a long-time Outlaws competitor and former track record holder at Las Vegas; Sammy Swindell, simply a sprint car racing legend; and Kevin Swindell, a recently turned 16-year-old who became the youngest driver to finish in the top 10 with the Outlaws when finished sixth in the feature at Parramatta City Raceway in January.
* Fierce competition: Nobody ever doubted the 2005 World of Outlaws Sprint Series would be one of the most competitive seasons in series history, but through five events, there have been five different winners. Donny Schatz captured the opener in Australia followed by Jeff Shepard and Steve Kinser at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., Tim Shaffer at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif., and Craig Dollansky at Bakersfield Speedway in Oildale, Calif.
* Two for Parsons: Lonny Parsons has been one of the biggest supporters of sprint car racing and the World of Outlaws. But until last September at the Raceway at Powercom Park in Beaver Dam, Wis., the owner of the Casey's General Store No. 6 had never been to Victory Lane in a feature event. He didn't have to wait long for a return visit. Friday night at Thunderbowl Raceway, Tim Shaffer started third and grabbed the lead when Tim Kaeding collided with a lapped car. Shaffer narrowly avoided the wreck and went on to hold off Donny Schatz for the victory.
* Dollansky looking strong: Craig Dollansky put his new J&J Chassis into Victory Lane for the first time this season Saturday night at Bakersfield. Dollansky has been one of the series top contenders despite a serious injury sustained in a crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2003. He maintains that he is 100 percent healthy this season, and has proven it on the track. His strong qualifying efforts have led to good starting positions that have resulted in top-six finishes in the past four events, including the victory Saturday night. He currently is second in points, only eight behind Steve Kinser.
* Double duty: Jason Meyers continues to build off his strong finish in 2004. Not only did Meyers promote the Bakersfield race along with Guy Stockbridge and his Elite Racing Team, but he also made the move of the race when he dared to go to the high side of the track from his 10th-place starting position and made it work to slide around Mark Kinser and Steve Kinser. Meyers ended up fourth in the wild race.
* Start up front, finish up front: Donny Schatz's season has been a perfect example of how important qualifying well translates to strong finishes on the World of Outlaws Sprint Series circuit. At Volusia earlier this month, Schatz posted the eighth fastest time out of 56 cars and went on to lead a significant portion of the feature before a burnt coil cut short his race. In the next event at Volusia, he qualified 24th and worked hard to earn a 15th-place finish. This past weekend, Schatz, of Fargo, N.D., was the top qualifier at Thunderbowl Raceway and finished the feature in second. On Saturday at Bakersfield, Schatz was one of the first few cars to go out and wound up qualifying 21st out of the 36 cars, which led to a starting position in the feature on the outside of Row 10. Still, he managed to pull off an eighth-place finish on the tight track and sits ninth overall in points.
* Former champ in contention: The new pairing of car owner Rick Wright and two-time Outlaws champion Mark Kinser appears to be growing stronger. Kinser is sitting fourth in points after posting four top-10 finishes in the past four races.
* Pittman's tough luck: Daryn Pittman has been fast this year, but he had a couple of rough rides last weekend. With his new Reeve Kruck-owned Titan Racing team, Pittman has been impressive this season, posting three top-10s to start the year. Unfortunately, this past weekend wasn't so kind. In the Tulare event he caught a rut in time trials and flipped. The next night at Bakersfield, Pittman posted the track record of 10.572 seconds, or 113.394 mph, around the 1/3-mile oval but was taken out in his heat race on a move by Jason Sides. Still, Pittman recovered to win the B-Main and finish 12th in the feature.
* Race review: Steve Kinser led all 30 laps and won by 15-car lengths over Tyler Walker in the Cactus Classic last season at Manzanita Speedway. It marked the eighth Outlaws feature victory in his career at the track, and the 498th overall. Kinser would go on to win No. 500 a month later at Houston Raceway Park.
* Tune into the Web: If fans can't get to Manzanita to see the racing this weekend, they can experience the excitement of the World of Outlaws Sprint Series live on Dirtvision.com through the new DIRT Radio Network, where announcer John Gibson keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the event. To listen to the audio broadcasts, log on to www.dirtvision.com and click on the DIRT Radio Network logo. Listeners will need Windows Media Player 9 or higher to listen to the DIRT Radio Network. Companies who are interested in advertising on the new DIRT Radio Network should contact Mark Noble, DIRT MotorSports VP Sales and Marketing, at 719-884-2141. For technical support or questions, e-mail email@example.com.
* Hear it firsthand: RACEceiver is the Official Driver Communicator of DIRT MotorSports. A compact radio receiver that conveniently fits into a driver's pocket, a RACEceiver allows each driver to hear directions from series officials, which greatly enhances the safety and timeliness of events. A similar version available to fans will allow RACEceiver users to hear what information series officials are relaying to the drivers. For more information about RACEceiver, visit www.raceceiver.com, call 866-301-7223, or look for their sales trailers at various events.
Steve Kinser, a 19-time series champion and the current points leader
* On returning to the World of Outlaws Sprint Series Mean 15: "I'm just looking forward to it. We got everything resolved and everything is looking good now. I'm glad it's all taken care of."
* On his outlook for the rest of 2005: "We're just going to try to do what we've been doing, try to win some races and win a championship. A lot of hard work goes on here. We have a pretty good race team so I think we're going to be in the hunt."
* On the high level of competition this season: "It's a tough thing. We had some tracks [last] weekend that were pretty heavy and hard to pass on, and there's a lot of good race cars. It's going to be like that all year."
* On racing at Manzanita: "I always like going to Phoenix and racing. It's a half-mile track, a little bigger than this past weekend. I hope the rain stays away because we had some pretty rough racetracks last weekend, due to weather conditions. We still had good racing, which is the main thing. I'm looking forward to being there."
Donny Schatz, winner of the season-opening feature in Australia who has also celebrated a victory at Manzanita
* On racing a big half-mile after a weekend on 1/3-mile tracks: "It's just one of those things you do. I think everybody's pretty excited after the [rough] conditions last week to get off the bullrings. We'll see what happens. I think everybody's looking forward to the sunshine."
* On racing in Arizona: "It has its perks. Racing is what we're all going there for, but some of the places you go to aren't like Phoenix where you don't care to get there early and have a little time or relax a little bit. It's nice to go there and have a few days to do what you want to do and also race in a nice part of the country. We're awful excited to back to Manzanita. We've actually won races there before and we were pretty good last spring. Hopefully we can see how our big track program is going to go for us."
Jason Meyers, driver of the No. 14 Elite Racing Team machine and co-promoter of the race Saturday night at Bakersfield
* On his first attempt at promoting: "We were very, very happy with the turnout. It went very well. The show went off well and I got a lot of comments from fans that it was a good show. We got a great response to the pre-party that we did, allowing people to come down to the pits before the races. The pits were full from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m."
* On doing it again next year: "Definitely. It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun. We learned a lot. Being our first time, everything didn't go perfect. We sat here all morning [Monday] talking about what went wrong, but I think what we saw went wrong was kind of on our side. For the fans, I think everything came off like it was supposed to. We were happy with it and we got a pretty good response from the people of Bakersfield and surrounding areas that came down to watch the race. Hopefully we'll put it together even a little bigger next year. Now that people know we can put on a good show there and do stuff like that, hopefully we can build into something bigger and better next year."
* On his 3rd-lap, high-side move around Mark Kinser and Steve Kinser at Bakersfield: "I had been telling people all night to watch on Turn 2 because it gets a little tight and here I am hanging out on the top with barely any room. I was a little frustrated with our performance all night long so. We made some really big changes for the feature so that we could run the top because I knew not very many people would go up there and we made some adjustments to the car and got up there. The biggest disappointment to me was when they opened the red [flag on lap 10] early in the race it allowed everybody to get to talk with their crews and change their cars around to where they could get up there. It allowed [Joey] Saldana and [Craig] Dollansky and a couple of the leaders to get up right where I was. I think before that red we were going to go straight to the front."
* On racing at Manzanita: "I'm definitely looking forward to going to Manzanita. I like all the big half-miles we go to. Manzanita is always a fun racetrack with a good turnout of people. We're going to make a few changes to our car this week to get ready for the big half-mile. We're going to put some new horsepower in. The motor we've been running since the start of the season is worn out now with all the races we've run on it so we'll put in some fresh horsepower for this weekend. We're still looking for our first victory of the year. Maybe we'll get it on the big half mile."
* On having Mean 15 settled for 2005: "It is really nice to have that in line now. I think everybody knew that we weren't all happy with the original contracts, but I don't think anybody's ever happy in any business thing I've ever been involved in with the first contract. When you wind up really not happy is when you can't work it out. Obviously we were able to sit down and work it out. I think it's a good positive for the series, for the teams and for the fans that we get in line. We certainly don't want to get to a point like you see in hockey and basketball and baseball having stand outs and all that type of stuff. We sat down at the table like grown men and got it handled."
Jason Sides, the 2003 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year who finished fourth last year at Manzanita
* On last year's race: "It's just one of those places we seem to like. It was kind of wet and rough and it seems to fit us." After racing last weekend on 1/3-mile ovals: "I like the small tracks like the past weekend, but on the half-miles the cars seem to get spread out a little more and there's not as much crashing and tearing up stuff."
* On setting up for Manzanita: "That's pretty much the same as most half-miles. Some are different than others, but it's not like a Williams Grove half-mile that is long and narrow. I guess it's what you'd call a nice half-mile."
* On Phoenix: "It's nice weather there. It's always fun to go there."
Kraig Kinser, driver of the No. 11k owned by Steve Kinser Racing
* On racing with his dad, Steve: "It's definitely a fun thing to do. Especially while we're running team cars and I get to talk with my dad all the time and you get two perspectives on the track and what different things are going. You can experiment a little bit with one car in one race and know what not to do in the next one. It helps us out a lot with setups. It's a lot better than us running in two different spots like we used to when I was still in school. He'd be running on one side of the country and I'd be back home still running. It's a lot better now. Everyone's together a lot more. It's a lot easier going. Everything runs a little bit smoother."
UPCOMING EVENTS: The World of Outlaws Sprints Series shifts to Las Vegas for the March 10-11 J.D. Byrider World of Outlaws Nationals before beginning racing March 18 at Pike County Speedway in Magnolia, Miss., and March 19 at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas.