Why I-55 Always Delivers Exciting Racing

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By Alex Nieten
PEVELY, MO (April 11, 2024) – Thirty minutes south of St. Louis lies one of the country’s most exciting racetracks.

Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 is a 1/3-mile oval of dirt that thrills Sprint Car fans year in and year out. Crowds flock to the Pevely, MO bullring to see the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars twice a year – once in the spring and the other in August for the famed Ironman 55.

The spring stop is slated for this weekend (April 12-13) and promises to deliver more of the wild action I-55 is known for. But what exactly is it about this racetrack that lends itself to such good racing? Why does it consistently “wow” spectators and leave them with memories they’ll never forget? Let’s let some of the best to strap into the 900 horsepower beasts answer that question.

Craig Dollansky is one of the most successful competitors to ever take on I-55. The Elk River, MN driver bagged five World of Outlaws wins in Pevely including three Ironman 55 wins in a row from 2011 to 2013. Eleven years have passed since his third Ironman triumph, and he’s still the only competitor with a trio of the iconic dumbbell trophies.

“It’s an Eldora in a smaller box,” Dollansky said. “The intensity level is a little bit elevated. The straightaways aren’t as long as what Eldora is, so the thought process is shortened up a bit. It’s a track where you’ve got to be getting after it from start to finish. It’s just a very aggressive type of racetrack.”

Dollansky owns 66 career World of Outlaws wins, and the Ironman titles are three he puts toward the top of that list considering the difficulty.

“It’s a hard track to win at to start with for a World of Outlaws show,” Dollansky said. “And when you add the more laps to it, a 55-lap race, it makes it all the more difficult. I can tell you that when it’s in August, it’s definitely challenging because it’s very hot and humid. I remember winning there a couple times, and the water was running off me like a river for about two hours afterwards. You’ve got to be prepared all the way through.”

Whenever the World of Outlaws invade Pevely nowadays, Sheldon Haudenschild has become the name to watch. The Wooster, OH native has topped four Series shows including a pair of Ironman 55s. One of those wins saw him cross the finish line more than 10 seconds ahead of second place. Safe to say I-55 suits his style.

“I think it’s a perfectly shaped racetrack and perfectly banked,” Haudenschild said. “They always seem to get the track conditions pretty spot on, too. I think it’s a combination of all those things. And great competition is kind of what makes it the perfect setup.

“I think it’s just a track that comes naturally to me. It’s a track that you’re able to move around on. It always seems to have options. Just from the start of going there it was a natural feeling place for me.”

Before he became a perennial NASCAR Cup Series championship contender, Christopher Bell scored his second career World of Outlaws victory at I-55 in 2015. It was Keith Kunz’s first win with The Greatest Show on Dirt as an owner. Like Dollansky, Bell views I-55 as having half mile elements in a smaller package.

“I just think that it’s the best of both worlds,” Bell said. “So, if you go to a half mile racetrack, you get the high speeds. And then if you go to a short track, you have the tight confines. With Pevely, the way that it’s shaped and the way that it’s banked, you have super high speeds in a tight, confined 1/3-mile racetrack. That’s how I’ve always viewed it as kind of a mini half mile.”

Bell’s win was vintage I-55. The Norman, OK driver had to trade sliders with Sammy Swindell and Kerry Madsen in a thrilling battle before taking the KKM #67 to Victory Lane.

“That was a very special win for myself and Keith because neither of us were full-time Sprint Car guys,” Bell said. “Keith had dabbled in Sprint Car Racing a little bit, and we kind of got our feet wet together. We hadn’t really raced a lot, and then it all came together at Pevely where we were able to win. It was a very special win. The Outlaw wins I have are definitely in my top percentage of wins. It’s just a really big deal anytime you win an Outlaw race.”

Another one of the top Pevely drivers among the current crop of full-time World of Outlaws drivers is Logan Schuchart. The Shark Racing pilot claimed the 2018 Ironman 55 and has been wildly consistent with 14 top fives in the last 18 I-55 races.

“A lot of it has to do with the size and shape of it,” Schuchart said. “As far as the fan’s perspective, I think, for 410 Sprint Cars, it’s almost perfect as far as excitement from a fan’s point of view. It’s high banked, short. It’s almost the perfect size for a 410 Sprint Car as far as excitement goes. And track conditions have a lot to do with it. It seems like the track crew at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 does a great job at prepping the racetrack and giving us a great surface.

“It’s a track that I have fun racing at. It’s technical as far as hitting your marks but kind of being aggressive at the same time. If you miss a line, you can lose a couple car lengths on somebody, but then the same goes vice versa. It’s a racer’s racetrack.”

Last year, Schuchart threw haymakers with Kyle Larson in the Ironman 55 before Larson arose victorious and dubbed the battle, “probably the most fun Sprint Car race I’ve ran maybe ever.” Another testament to I-55 offering thrilling race after thrilling race.

The World of Outlaws roll into I-55 this weekend to add two more chapters of Series history at the bullring, and they promise to provide plenty of can’t-miss action like so many previous races in Pevely.

For tickets to this weekend’s races at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, catch every lap live on DIRTVision.

The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink® Sprint Car Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: NOS Energy Drink (Official Energy Product), DIRTVision (Official Live Broadcast Partner), Hoosier Racing Tire (Official Tire), iRacing (Official Online Racing Game), Milton Hershey School (Official Education Partner), Racing Electronics (Official Radio Supplier), Simpson Performance Products (Preferred Safety Gear Partner), SIS Insurance (Official Insurance Provider), Toyota (Official Vehicle), and VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel); contingency sponsors include: ARP (Automotive Racing Products), Cometic Gasket, COMP Cams, Evolve Transporters, Federated Auto Parts, KSE Racing Products (Hard Charger Award), Lifeline USA, Micro-Lite LLC, MSD, Quartz Hill Records, Stone Country Records, and Smith Titanium Brake Systems. Manufacturer sponsors include, FIREBULL, and Intercomp, and Sea Foam.

Founded in 1978, the World of Outlaws®, based in Concord, NC, is the premier national touring series for dirt track racing in North America, featuring the most powerful cars on dirt, the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series and the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. Annually, the two series race nearly 140 times at tracks across the United States and Canada. CBS Sports Network is the official broadcast partner of the World of Outlaws. DIRTVision® also broadcasts all World of Outlaws events over the Internet to fans around the world. Learn more about the World of Outlaws.