Kreitz wins First Summer Nationals Preliminary MECHANICSBURG, PA (July 24) -- Ageless wonders Don Kreitz, Jr., Keith Kauffman, Steve Kinser, Danny Lasoski and Fred Rahmer all showed they still have what it takes to run up front with the best ...
Kreitz wins First Summer Nationals Preliminary
MECHANICSBURG, PA (July 24) -- Ageless wonders Don Kreitz, Jr., Keith Kauffman, Steve Kinser, Danny Lasoski and Fred Rahmer all showed they still have what it takes to run up front with the best sprint car racers in the world Thursday at Williams Grove Speedway.
The 40-plus drivers finished 1-5 as the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series opened the Second Annual Cleveland Brothers Summer Nationals. Kreitz's flag-to-flag victory in the First Preliminary Feature was his 48th at the legendary half-mile oval. The first six starters, including the five veterans, have combined to win 240 "A" Features at Williams Grove Speedway.
"My daughter's birthday is July 28, and two years ago when she was two years old I won one of these races and she got to hold the checkered flag in victory lane," Kreitz told the appreciative, partisan crowd. "She didn't get to hold a checkered flag when she was three, and with the rainout last week I knew we only had three more races to get it done this year.
"It's amazing that Keith and Steve can still be as competitive as they are -- they're a bunch older than I am. We had three old guys run up front tonight, and Freddy was up there too, so maybe we still have something. Running with these guys is really the reason we're still racing, but I never thought I'd have another chance to win an Outlaw race."
Kreitz, who has recorded five of his eight O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series main event victories at "The Grove," was the 16th-fastest qualifier in the 43-car field. Lasoski, the fastest qualifier, gave Kreitz the luxury of starting the First Dash Race on the pole by picking the #6 inversion pill. Kreitz earned the privilege of starting the 25-lap Preliminary Feature inside the front row by beating Kinser and Lasoski across the finish line in the five-lap dash.
Kreitz drove his #69K Avenger into the lead as the green flag fell in the evening's main event. Donny Schatz, who dominated O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series feature races at Williams Grove in 2000 and 2001, passed Sean Michael and Lasoski during the first 10 laps before challenging Kauffman for fifth place.
Daryn Pittman collided with Heat Race winners Mark Kinser and Mark Smith in turn one and brought out the caution flag early in the 12th lap. Len Thompson collided with defending Summer Nationals champion Greg Hodnett in the fourth corner and flipped 2 ½ laps later.
Steve Kinser, who has won 23 O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series main events at Williams Grove, had his #11 Quaker State Maxim on its way to the front as the green flag replaced the red. "The King of the Outlaws" passed defending Williams Grove National Open champion Lance Dewease in the low groove between turns one and two on the restart, then exchanged second place with Rahmer three times during the 18th and 19th laps.
Kauffman raced past Dewease and Rahmer during laps 20 and 21, then won a back-straightaway drag race with Kinser to claim the runner-up spot midway through the final lap. Kreitz was 1½ car-lengths ahead of Kauffman when he took the checkered flag.
"It looked like someone was going to drive by me there before the (14th-lap) red flag," Kreitz said. "I just wasn't running on the right part of the race track. I came in there on the red and asked Davey (Brown) what we needed to do, and he said 'the car's pretty good, but they're going to go around you on the top, so it's up to you if you want to go up there.' I went back out and went to the top, and I was scared to death running up there. I normally look at the scoreboard to see who's second or third, but I couldn't look at the scoreboard or at my guys. I was just focused straight ahead and hanging on.
"We had a new car tonight, something that was a little different than the Avengers we've been running all year, and as good as this car was if someone who could really run the top would have driven it tonight they would have run away with this race."
"The King of the Outlaws" finished in third place, ahead of Lasoski, Rahmer, Schatz, Michael, Dewease, Paul McMahan and Second Heat Race winner Tim Shaffer.
Cris Eash, the 1987 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year, won the First Heat Race and passed 10 cars to finish 11th. Joey Saldana won the "B" Feature, then raced into 12th place from inside the ninth row.
Jac Haudenschild, who claimed the final qualifying position in the evening's main event by passing 11 cars in the "B" Feature, coasted into the infield with mechanical problems midway through the Preliminary Feature.