By Tony Veneziano
Concord, NC-August 9, 2010-
Right in the title hunt: Jason Meyers used his win in the finale of the Ironman 55 to move to within 46 points of current leader Joey Saldana in the World of Outlaws championship standings as he chases his first series title. The veteran is 36 markers behind Steve Kinser, who is second. The Gold Rush Tour awaits the series next, with 11 races over a three-week stretch at six tracks in four different states and one Canadian Province, which wraps up with the $50,000 to-win Gold Cup Race of Champions in Meyers home state of California. He has won at each and every one of the tracks that compromise the 2010 Gold Rush Tour and the four facilities that follow down the stretch.
“We feel very confident,” said Meyers after his victory in the Ironman 55. “We needed this win. We have been working very hard and it hasn’t been paying off, so for it to pay off tonight is exactly what we needed heading into the western swing. We always do good on the West Coast and are really looking forward to it.”
Some number crunching: Jason Meyers win over Lucas Wolfe in the finale of the Ironman 55 came by just 0.092 seconds, making it the closest finish of the season. The margin of victory has been less than a second in 21 races this season for the World of Outlaws, with 94 leaders among 26 drivers, and 62 lead changes in the 49 A-Feature events that have been contested thus far this season. Already this season, more drivers have won A-Feature events and led laps than did all of last season, making the 2010 campaign another of the most competitive in series history.
Nearly getting that elusive first win: Lucas Wolfe finished second for the third time this season as he continues to close in on his first career World of Outlaws A-Feature win, coming up just 0.092 second short of Jason Meyers at I-55 Raceway. The second generation driver is currently seventh in points on the strength of a career-high 25 Top-10 finishes with 14 of those being Top-Five performances.
“Jason (Meyers) is a great competitor and has been running very well and is great at these types of places,” shared Wolfe on Saturday night. “I’m just glad to be up there racing with him and Tim Shaffer, who wins a lot of races. We are up there with the good guys and I am proud anytime we can be up there.”
The Iron dozem: A total of 12 drivers completed all 55 laps of the finale of the Ironman 55, the longest, most grueling event of the season for the World of Outlaws. Seven drivers finished in the Top-10 on both nights, led by Jason Meyers, along with Tim Shaffer, Friday night’s winner, Joey Saldana, Steve Kinser, Donny Schatz, Jason Sides and Paul McMahan.
First timers: Eight drives made the main event at the Ironman 55 for the first time in their career. Kerry Madsen, who was making his debut in the event, finished a very solid ninth after having some bad luck on Friday night while leading the dash. Toni Lutar, one of the contenders for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award with the World of Outlaws this season, also took part in the event for the first time. Veterans Doug Esh, Greg Wilson, Paul May and Bill Rose all raced their way into the Ironman 55. A.J. Bruns and Brad Greer, who often race in the Missouri-area, both qualified for the Ironman 55 for the first time in their respective careers.
“It’s pretty special to be in this field tonight,” said Bruns during driver introductions. “We always enjoy getting to race around here and to race with this group of guys is pretty neat. This is a great event they have here.”
First impression: Doug Esh, who is filling in for the injured Jac Haudenschild, visited I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Missouri for the first time in his career over the weekend. The native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania raced his way into the main event both nights, finishing 13th in the finale. In his stint driving for the Carnahan Motorsports team, he picked up a win at Lebanon Valley Speedway in New York and also led laps at Fulton Speedway, another of the tracks he was making his debut at.
“This is a pretty unique place,” said Esh of I-55 Raceway. “I can’t really compare it to anywhere I have ever been or to anywhere back home. It’s one of a kind. I’m glad I had the chance to come out here and race it.”
Well represented: The Pennsylvania Posse had three drivers in attendance at the Ironman 55, including icons Fred Rahmer and Lance Dewease, who made the two west to the high-banked 1/3-mile bullring for the second consecutive year, along with Esh, who was filling in for Haudenschild. Dewease finished eighth in the opener of the Ironman, while Rahmer was 15th. In the finale, Dewease came from the 20th starting spot to finish 11th to earn the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Award, while Rahmer retired from the race on the 28th lap with a mechanical problem.
“We love this place,” said Dewease during driver introductions last Saturday night. “We have a pretty good car so hopefully we can come from the back in the feature. There is definitely plenty of time to do it.”
Another new track record: Sam Hafertepe Jr. set a new track record last Tuesday night at Fulton Speedway in New York in his first visit to the high-banked 3/8-mile, charging around the ultra fast surface in 13.240 seconds at 101.964 mph to shatter the old mark by nearly seventh-tenths of a second. Each of the first 18 drivers in the final qualifying rundown broke the track record. A total of nine new track records have been established at World of Outlaws events this season.
“It feels good to set the track record, especially in our first visit to the track,” said Hafertepe. “We have a couple of track records this year and that is definitely a testament to this team and how hard everyone works.”
Hard charging: Jason Meyers had to start shotgun on the field at Fulton Speedway, 24th, after switching to a backup car following time trials. By way of World of Outlaws rules, any driver that switches cars following time trials or any racing event must start at the back of all events that they are qualified for. Meyers charged all the way from 24th to finish eighth to earn the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Award for the third time this season.
Making the main event: Two-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart competed with the World of Outlaws for the fourth time this season last Tuesday night when the series returned to Fulton Speedway in New York. The Eldora Speedway owner, who also owns the cars driven by Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz on the World of Outlaws circuit, made the main event for the first time in his career with the series. He came from the seventh starting spot to finish fourth in the first heat race to lock himself into the A-Feature, where he would come home 19th.
Strong end to the East Coast swing: Sam Hafertepe Jr. finished the second East Coast swing of the season on a very strong note at Fulton Speedway, coming home fifth after opening the night by setting a new track record in qualifying. He finished ninth or better in each of the last four races of the East Coast swing with two of those being Top-Five performances. During the nine race stretch that took the World of Outlaws to six different tracks in two states and two Canadian Provinces, Hafertepe racked up seven Top-10 finishes and recently moved into the 11th spot in points.
“We’re really happy about tonight,” said Hafertepe after his Top-Five run at Fulton Speedway. “A lot of times when we time in good we normally don’t keep the speed all night long. The track went away tonight and we were able to keep the speed, though not quite as much as we would have wanted. We were definitely a factor there at the end and we were able to keep it up front.”
On the air: A couple of re-airs of the 2010 Kings Royal from the famed Eldora Speedway will be on SPEED this week, with the first of those set for Tuesday, August 10 at Noon Eastern and also on Wednesday August 11 at 3 a.m. Eastern. All the excitement, pageantry and prestige of the 27th Annual Kings Royal will part of the super-sized two hour broadcast which originally aired last Saturday afternoon.
Photo galleries: The Media Gallery section of www.worldofOutlaws.com continues to be updated after each event. Visit http://www.worldofoutlaws.com/sprint/MediaGallery.aspx to see Photo Galleries from all 2010 World of Outlaws events. Photo Galleries from both nights of the Ironman 55 will be posted soon.
Keep up with all the action: The number of “Followers” keeping up with the World of Outlaws via Twitter online and through text messages on cell phones continues to grow and recently surpassed the 4,700 “Follower” mark. Updates are provided throughout race nights beginning with hot laps and continuing all the way through the final checkered flag of the night. To sign-up visit: http://twitter.com/worldofoutlaws and receive live race updates, anywhere, anytime.
On sale now: Tickets for a number of premier World of Outlaws events are currently on-sale, including the event at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in New York on October 9 and the World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, November 4-6. For tickets visit www.WorldofOutlaws.com/tickets.
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Chizmark & Larson Insurance , Goodyear Tires (Official Tire), SuperClean (Official Cleaner-Degreaser), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel); in addition to contingency sponsors, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, KSE Race Products, Penske Shocks , R2C Performance, Racing Electronics, S&S Volvo; Engine Builder’s Challenge participants Don Ott Racing Engines, Kistler Engines, Shaver Specialties and Speedway Engines; and Chassis Builder’s Challenge participants J&J Auto Racing, Maxim Racing and XXX Race Company.