World of Outlaws Alters Racing Format By Richard Day PLANO, TX (March 20) -- Following a four-event analysis of its new racing format, the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series has made a slight alteration, series President Ted Johnson announced...
World of Outlaws Alters Racing Format
By Richard Day PLANO, TX (March 20) -- Following a four-event analysis of its new racing format, the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series has made a slight alteration, series President Ted Johnson announced Monday. The change will take effect this weekend when the series' fire- breathing, mudslinging sprint cars christen Joplin 66 Speedway. "We believe the change will make for an exciting, more interesting race," Johnson said. The slight adjustment will decrease the number of cars starting the feature by how they finish the Channellock Dash races. While the Channellock Dashes formerly determined the first 20 positions in the feature races, that number has dropped to 12. The first six finishers in the Channellock Dashes will make up the first six rows of the feature, with the remaining four cars lining up behind them by their qualifying times. The four cars qualifying for the evening's main event through the "B" Feature will also retain their times. "We realized the new format was penalizing our faster qualifiers," Johnson said. "If a driver sets quick-time and he has a problem in his NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race, he will start 13th rather than 21st in the feature." The five Vivarin Fast-Time Award winners have started the feature race 21st three times, 15th once and fifth once and finished in 11th place on the average. Most of the drivers appreciate the new arrangement because it allows them to improve their position in both the NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Races and the Channellock Dashes. Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Jac Haudenschild qualified 18th-quick, but started on the fifth row and raced into third place at Perris Auto Speedway. He was the Vivarin Fast-Time Award winner in the second preliminary program in the Silver State Shootout at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but finished sixth in the First NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race. "The Wild Child" raced past 15 cars to finish sixth, however, before a national television audience on TNN. "I think it's going to average out for guys throughout the year," said Johnny Herrera, who won the season opener at Kings Speedway. "It will probably do them more good than bad. The only thing I didn't like was if a fast qualifier had some bad luck in his heat race, the best he could start would be 21st. Now they've improved that." Lance Blevins had nothing but praise for the series' new format. "I like it," the driver of the #21 PC Joey J&J said. "It makes it where time trials aren't quite as crucial and puts more importance on the heat races. Time trials used to be everything. If you had problems in time trials, you were behind the rest of the night. The new format gives you some lee way. You can miss in time trials a little and get back in the game. If you don't finish in the top five in your heat race though, you're in trouble." The new format allowed 1998 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Dale Blaney to improve his starting position from the eighth row to the fourth row during the series' first telecast of the year on TNN. "It can definitely help you," he said. "If you don't qualify that well, you have a shot to move up by racing well in the heat and the dash. You still have to qualify well, but you have to race well to go with it. Giving you more time on the race track helps, too. Before, if you were 17th-quick or so, you knew you only had one chance - in your heat race. Now guys will race harder in the heats and the dashes. "If you have a good car and you're fast enough, you're going to get to the front." Australian Brooke Tatnell says the new format will improve the entertainment aspect of the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series. "I think it's good in a lot of ways," he said. "I think it will make the racing more exciting for the fans. They're the ones who pay our salaries, so we need make them happy."