Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kaeding survives Thunderbowl Raceway to pick up his second win with the Outlaws

Photo Credit: Tim Kaeding Racing
Funny things happen to race tracks when they sit dark for several months. One of them is a concept that is somewhat difficult to understand - the dirt surface begins to die. Basically what this means is that even with water, the surface won’t adhere to itself and when this occurs it begins to rut and hole up. If a rut or a hole gets deep enough, it can flip a winged or non winged sprint car. This process can be sped along when you try to put too many different kinds of cars on the same track that has had nothing on it for several months. Especially, when the cars are very different in how they wear the track and their weight. That is what happened last night when the World of Outlaws and the Non Wings of USAC came to race at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway.

Photo Credit: Shawn Miller for the World of Outlaws
It didn’t take long before the huge hole in Turn 1 claimed its first victim during Outlaws qualifying. It claimed none other than the "King of the Outlaws" himself, Steve Kinser. On his first lap of qualifying, Kinser caught the hole in one located in the center of the track and flipped violently up into the wall, then back onto the track. The crowd held its breath. When track workers put the car back on all four wheels Kinser announced he was alright and wanted the car taken to the work area for repairs so that he could claim his one lap of qualifying allotted to him after the incident. He couldn’t qualify any better than 17th but it was better than 32nd. The top wing of the car was mangled and the nose wing was askew but there didn’t appear to be a lot of damage other than that to the car so it was pushed to the work area. Kinser’s Tony Stewart Racing crew swarmed the car and began removing damaged parts to begin repairs. In the mean time, qualifying went on. At the end of qualifying Kraig Kinser, who had engine problems on his run, made a single lap run and came home with the 32nd fastest time out of 32 cars.

This left only one car remaining to qualify, Steve Kinser. There was a hush and an anticipation about how would "The King" make it back out for that single lap? After a brief delay the nose of the Bad Boy Buggies No. 11 cleared the pit wall on the back stretch and Steve Kinser accelerated. The nose wing of the car was still damaged, there hadn’t been time to replace it and it sat askew. But the top wing and the majority of the down force for the 1400 pound, 900 horse power sprint car was new and intact. Kinser made his run. It wasn’t a good run but he logged a lap. It wasn’t the worse run; however, it was close. Kinser would qualify 31st with the missing front down force on the car but he was qualified.

Photo Credit: Shawn Miller for the World of Outlaws
Throughout qualifying and the heat races, cars literally bounced through Turns 1 and 2. Sammy Swindell bounced the car so hard and so many times that the No. 1 Big Game Tree Stands car resembled a basketball with its orange and black coloring, a less experienced driver would have crashed hard. Jac Haudenschild took the top side in his heat and still bounced the car so badly that by the end of the dash the engine had to be changed for the A Main. 

The hole claimed many experienced and non-experienced drivers in both the wing and non wing ranks. When the modifieds hit the track it became obvious what was causing the hole in the first place. The heavier modifieds would shear off the track surface and dig in to the track when they accelerated in that part of the corner, causing ruts that with continued running became holes. Three different attempts were made to wet the area and run it back in to rid the surface of the villain but none were successful. The rough track was going to have to be navigated as best as the Outlaws could. 

The Outlaws ran four heat races of eight laps a piece. The top two drivers transferred to the Dash while the top five transferred to the A Main. The heats would see experience win out over the younger drivers in all four cases. The first heat of the night was won by Jac Haudenschild, who led flag to flag over Lucas Wolfe, Daryn Pittman, Willy Croft and Rico Abreu. Abreu was running second when the hole would bicycle the car and send him spinning. He would come back from the tail end of the eight car field to finish fifth. The hole would claim Chris Martin in another flip situation and he would not return to the heat.

The second heat race would be won by Craig Dollansky who was chased to the line by current series champion Donny Schatz followed by Cody Darrah, Kyle Hirst and two-time champion Jason Meyers. Although there were no red flags in the second heat, the competitors had to tip toe around the widening cavern in Turn 1.

Heat three would see Thunderbowl Speedway’s maestro Tim Kaeding win over Wayne Johnson, Sammy Swindell, D.J. Netto and Steve Kinser. Although he started eighth, Kinser used the prowess and skill that earned him the title "King of the Outlaws" to capture the final transfer position into the A Main.

Heat four was a hard fought affair that had newly returned Australian driver, Jonthan Allard, taking the checkers over young sensation David Gravel, Joey Saldana, Paul McMahan and Greg Wilson. Kraig Kinser would finish just out of transfer in the sixth spot with a car that simply did not perform to expectations.

The Dash inversion draw was a six putting Donny Schatz on the pole with Jac Haudenschild starting to his outside. When the green flag dropped Schatz lead into Turn 1 and was second by Turn 2. Jac “The Wild Child” Haudenschild moved to the top of the track and rim rode his way to victory by 2.8 seconds. But it was not without its costs. At the checkered flag Haudenschild was losing power and smoking, he had nursed the car home with a failing engine. Though the engine change would not cost him the A Main pole, it would add an element of the unknown to the equation. 

The Last Chance Showdown was a mass of yellow and red flags that started 12 cars and finished with seven cars running. It was won by young Cory Eliason who was involved in two yellows and started at the very back of the field. Eliason would head to the top of the track and come all the way back to win in the final lap beating Jason Sides, Kerry Madsen and Brian Brown. Kraig Kinser would never take the green flag experiencing engine problems yet again. The No. 11K would also undergo an engine change before taking an outlaws provisional to get into the A Main.

The A main was a scary affair that featured three very frightening crashes. The first was Steve Kinser, who appeared to break something in the front end and hit the wall out of Turn 4, flipping for the second time last night. The car was taken to the work area where it was checked over and the steering piece replaced, Kinser would return to the track with a mangled top wing on the right side. The wing was so mangled that it provided little if any down force to the car but "The King" drove it anyway. Team mate Donny Schatz had jumped to an early lead over Jac Haudenschild and when the green flew again he took up where he left off until Cory Eliason hit the rough and flipped the car violently end over end into the fence. The car instantly erupted into flames. Fellow drivers Cody Darrah and Daryn Pittman jumped from their cars to assist Eliason from his burning car. Eliason was unhurt but the car was destroyed as was the fence post that he hit.

Photo Credit: Shawn Miller for the World of Outlaws
Photo Credit: Shawn Miller for the World of Outlaws
With the long delay to weld the fence post back together the track was placed under an open red condition allowing the teams to make any change they wished other than changing tires. There was engine work, chassis work, wing work and a plethora of other adjustements that were done to the race cars. It was decided that all restarts from that point out, 28 laps, would be single file due to the roughness in Turn 1and the slickness in Turn 4. Donny Schatz would lead the field to the green but in Turn 1 he would hit the hole and break a front axle bringing out the caution yet again. Although he was taken to the work area his STP/TSR team could not repair the damage in time and Schatz’s night was over.

It would hand the lead to Tim Kaeding. He would lead until Lap 32 when Cody Darrah, who had slid by Jac Haudenschild, passed him on the low side entering the back stretch. Darrah wouldn’t hold the lead long though because he would hit the slick in Turn 4 and complete a 360 degree spin handing the lead back to Kaeding. Haudenschild would capitalize and take second back from the former rookie of the year, Kevin Gelbrecht. Darrah would fight back on the outside and retake second at the checkers.

“It was typical of Tulare,” said last year’s repeat winner and track record holder, Kaeding. “The track was rough and it never did take rubber until the very last.”

“We needed a super cross bike in one and two,” said second place finisher Cody Darrah.

Only the old veteran seemed pleased with the end result. "Car felt really good. We had a good night. 3 and 4 were really slick. 1 and 2 was really rough and sticky. It made for a great race track," said Jac Haudenschild on the podium.

The Outlaws will return to Thunderbowl tomorrow night and try again. Maybe with some overnight TLC the track will be in better shape. But whether it is or it isn’t one thing is for certain, it will take more than an evil hole to intimidate the greatest show and greatest drivers on dirt.

Qualifying Results: ‎ 1) Daryn Pittman 12.974 2) Cody Darrah 3) Brian Brown. 4) Joey Saldana, 5) Lucas Wolfe, 6) Jason Meyers, 7) Sammy Swindell, 8) David Gravel, 9) Jac Haudenschild, 10) Donny Schatz, 11) Tim Kaeding, 12) Jonthan Allard, 13) Rico Abreu, 14) Craig Dollansky, 15) Wayne Johnson, 16) Carson Macedo, 17) Kerry Madsen, 18) Kyle Hirst, 19) D.J. Netto, 20) Paul McMahan, 21) Willy Croft, 22) Jason Sides, 23) Austen Wheatley, 24) Greg Wilson, 25) Craig Stidham, 26) Dominic Scelzi, 27) Mike Faria, 28) Sam Hafertepe Jr., 29) Chris Martin, 30) Cory Eliason 31) Steve Kinser 32) Kraig Kinser.

First Heat Results: 1) Jac Haudenschild, 2) Lucas Wolfe, 3) Daryn Pittman, 4) Willy Croft, 5) Rico Abreu 6) Craig Stidham, 7) Kerry Madsen, 8) Chris Martin.

Second Heat Results: 1) Craig Dollansky 2) Donny Schatz 3) Cody Darrah, 4) Kyle Hirst, 5) Jason Meyers, 6) Jason Sides, 7) Cory Eliason, 8) Dominic Scelzi.

Third Heat Results: 1) Tim Kaeding 2) Wayne Johnson, 3) Sammy Swindell, 4) D.J. Netto 5) Steve Kinser, 6) Mike Faria, 7) Brian Brown, 8) Austen Wheatley.

Fourth Heat Results: 1) Jonathan Allard 2) David Gravel 3) Joey Saldana, 4) Paul McMahan 5) Greg Wilson, 6) Kraig Kinser 7) Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 8) Carson Macedo.

Dash Results: 1) Jac Haudenschild 2) Donny Schatz 3) Lucas Wolfe 4) Cody Darrah 5) David Gravel 6) Tim Kaeding 7) Craig Dollansky 8) Jonthan Allard 9) Wayne Johnson 10) Daryn Pittman.

LCS Results: 1) Cory Eliason, 2) Jason Sides, 3) Kerry Madsen, 4) Brian Brown, 5) Austen Wheatley, 6) Sam Hafertepe Jr. 7) Mike Faria, 8) Chris Martin. 9) Dominic Scelzi, 10) Craig Stidham, 11) Kraig Kinser, 12) Carson Macedo.

A Main Results: 1) Tim Kaeding, 2) Cody Darrah, 3) Jac Haudenschild, 4) David Gravel, 5) Daryn Pittman, 6) Lucas Wolfe, 7) Craig Dollansky, 8) Joey Saldana, 9) Rico Abreu, 10) Kerry Madsen, 11) Jonthan Allard, 12) Kyle Hirst, 13) Brian Brown, 14) Sammy Swindell, 15) Wayne Johnson, 16) Jason Meyers, 17) Paul McMahan, 18) Kraig Kinser, 19) Jason Sides, 20) D.J. Netto, 21) Steve Kinser, 22) Greg Wilson, 23) Donny Schatz, 24) Cory Eliason, 25) Willy Croft.

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