WORLD OF OUTLAWS SPRINT SERIES AT A GLANCE: Locking In At Williams Grove Mechanicsburg, PA -- May 26, 2005 -- By Chris Dolack, World of Outlaws Senior Writer When the World of Outlaws Sprint Series invades Williams Grove Speedway tonight, it...
WORLD OF OUTLAWS SPRINT SERIES AT A GLANCE: Locking In At Williams Grove
Mechanicsburg, PA -- May 26, 2005 -- By Chris Dolack, World of Outlaws Senior Writer
When the World of Outlaws Sprint Series invades Williams Grove Speedway tonight, it will mark beginning of the last two-night event until the series rolls June 17-18 into Eagle Raceway.
While the objective for every driver is always to win every night out, the key to a Preliminary Feature is to be in the top four when the checkered flag waves. A top-four finish earns drivers a spot in the Stacker 2® Dash on the following night to set the field for the main event.
By locking into the Dash during the Preliminary Feature, drivers guarantee they'll start no worse than sixth in the A-main, usually with a shot at $12,000. Last weekend at Lernerville Speedway, the four drivers who locked into the Dash -- Joey Saldana, Steve Kinser, Brooke Tatnell and Daryn Pittman -- all finished in the top six in the A-main.
Locking into the Dash, though, also means a driver doesn't have to go through time trials or heat races, therefore a driver won't get any track time until a warm-up session well into the race program on the final night. Nobody wants to give up a spot in the Dash, but for some that time of watching and waiting can be restless.
"A guy like myself, I think it does hurt," said Saldana, who won the Preliminary Feature last Friday at Lernerville Speedway. "A guy like Steve Kinser and [crew chief] Scott Gerkin and Danny Lasoski and [crew chief] Jimmy Carr, I don't think it does because they rely so much on what they see not necessarily what they feel. They've been to so many races and so many tracks that they see so much, to them it's no big deal. But we need track time, we need to be running. It does hurt a guy like myself, but I don't think it hurts that guy in the green No. 11 car."
With 521 World of Outlaws wins under his belt, Kinser and his crew have demonstrated time and again an ability to adjust quickly to changing track conditions, even with minimal time on the racing surface.
"You've already run one night," said Kinser, who has won the past two nights. "You just watch the racetrack. For me, you get a chance to sit down and think about what you want to do, maybe throw a setup on it for your hot lap session. I don't think it's any disadvantage because we've already run the night before. We can watch the racetrack and pretty well know what we think we need to change. I'd like to do it every two-day show there is."
One of the many keys to Kinser's success is that has developed a series of setups through the years and knows he can switch from one to the other quite fast if necessary.
"There's a lot of times we don't make the right decisions, either," he said. "We have a sort of system or a routine we go through of what we think we need to do. Sometimes it's right, sometimes it's not. If everybody knew everything about all these things, they would never have any problems. We don't get too far off. We have two or three setups we run on these cars and we don't get away from them too much. We don't venture off into changing a whole lot. We have two or three setups we think we like and if we hit all three of them and we can't seem like we're gaining anything, usually we've got more serious problems than chassis setups."
Tatnell isn't about to give up a spot in the Dash, either, but he always is looking for as much track time as possible.
"From a car owner's point of view, it's great for the aspect of knowing you're locked in," Tatnell said. "I'm going to need every hot lap session. I'd much rather go out in the back of one of the heat races and run around just to get a feel for it. I think it's an advantage, but it's definitely a disadvantage. You see it a lot of times that the guys who set quick time on the second night and get locked into the Dash get past the guys that were locked in from the night before because they've got the track time. We're sitting around until the Dash and they've hot lapped, time trialed and heat raced.
"It's a lot easier from the mechanical point of view to have your car right. I don't think a driver has a problem getting his head around it, it's just a matter of getting your car set up right."
By this point in the season, with nearly 30 nights of World of Outlaws races already completed, Pittman believes the drivers and teams have gained sufficient track time to be able to adjust to changing conditions from one night to the next.
"If we don't have enough lap time by now then we're not going to," Pittman said. "I'll take being locked in, I don't care if it's first or fourth, any day of the week. It takes the draw out of the equation, it takes qualifying and it takes making it out of the heat race out of it. At worst, if you crash in the Dash you're going to start sixth. It's hard to start in the top six on any night so I'm definitely happy to do that. It's just that much less pressure so we know we have only one race to concentrate on rather than a whole night of racing and qualifying and all that."