|Photo courtesy of Shawn Miller, World of Outlaws|
Lady Luck was in attendance at The Dirt Track in Las Vegas Thursday night. She held good things for some and bad things for others. She played her cards with a ruthless and unforgiving manner that showed her to be the fickle mistress she is. But the Outlaws stood fast against the cold of the desert and the gusts of wind and played the hands they were dealt. At the end of the night it was a young warrior from California that stood on the top step of the podium.
Thursday the World of Outlaws played host to their smaller USAC counterparts. The 360 Non Wing Sprints were one of the support classes for the evening. The 360 non wings all have cast iron blocks and 50 cubic inch smaller engines than the bigger winged sprints of the Outlaws. The difference showed in speed. The average lap speed of the 360 cubic inch engines was 100 mph, where the 410 cubic inch aluminum block engines of the outlaws were turning average laps of 120 mph. The group of drivers who were in for the “Sin City Showdown” are some of the best in the world - names like Cory Kruzeman, Richard Vander Weerd, Bryan Clauson, Ryan Bernal, R.J. Johnson, and Bud Kaeding. They put on an exciting show that showcased the talent within the non wing ranks of the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car Series.
Bryan Clauson, the AMSOIL Sprint Car Champion, already had a phenomenal record this year with seven wins in a sprint and two in a midget and in Vegas, he picked up where he left off in Florida with a little help from the lady luck. Clauson took home win number eight when Ryan Bernal spun leading the field with two to go and a two second lead. Clauson took the green-white-checkered finish with a half-second lead over R.J. Johnson. Bernal finished a dismal and heartbreaking 12th.
The Outlaws accepted the challenge of the non wings in true Outlaw style putting on one of the best shows we have seen in a long time. The racing was close and fast, with three wide throughout the pack and slide jobs for positions all through the field. If they were intimidated it didn't show. If they were worried about the competition with their USAC brothers you couldn't tell.
Qualifying saw Quick Time honors change hands six times before Lucas Wolfe finally took it home for the second night in a row with a lap of 14.507 seconds. He was followed by Daryn Pittman, Paul McMahan, Jason Sides, and Joey Saldana for the top-five qualifiers.
The heat races highlighted some of the incredible new talent coming on the horizon for the series. The top-five in all four heat races was loaded with young drivers with bright futures and incredible talents. The first heat was won by one of those young talents, Tim Kaeding. Kaeding held off a hard charging Joey Saldana to win. But right on Saldana’s rear bumper was the young phenom who has been compared to Tony Stewart with his ability to drive any kind of car, Kyle “Yung Money” Larson. Larson didn't just walk into third, he had to hold off yet another young star in Cody Darrah. who finished fourth, and Lucas Wolfe, who, in his new Buffalo Wild Wings ride, has made his mark in only two races with the Outlaws thus far.
The second heat was taken by another up and comer, Sam Hafertepe Jr. Hafertepe, who has run Wings and Indoor midgets so far this season, has shown himself to be diverse and skilled with incredible car control and instincts. Behind him in second was Rico “The little Giant” Abreu who is becoming more impressive with every race he runs. Coming home in third was two-time Outlaws champion Jason Meyers, who was followed by the series point leader Daryn Pittman. The final transfer went to a rising young star Brady Bacon, who will be joining the non wing ranks this year.
The third heat saw Wayne Johnson take the checkers but he would be followed very closely to the line by the feel good story of the season, David Gravel. Gravel, who is filling in for the injured Bill Rose, has taken the opportunity and turned it into a stepping stone by taking the No. 6 car to places it has not been in a long time - the dash for one. Gravel was chased to the line by Paul McMahan and Sammy Swindell, but coming home fifth was yet another promising young man, Kyle Hirst.
The final heat race of the night was a race of the old guard. Won by Kerry Madsen with Donny Schatz in hot pursuit, the finish was a close and hotly contested one. With Craig Dollansky closing fast and bringing Jason Sides with him, Brian Brown rounded out the top-five transfers. It seemed as if Madsen had shaken out the demons of Wednesday night's run until on the cool down lap his car jumped and turned right into the concrete retaining wall on the backstretch. The front end of the car was destroyed and the damage was too extensive to repair. Madsen was relegated to a backup car taking away his spot in the Dash and leaving him to start 24th in the A Main.
The Dash was a fore gone conclusion when the inversion of six was drawn putting series champion Donny Schatz on the pole. Schatz jumped out to a huge lead and never looked back. If he had he would have seen the familiar school bus yellow 71M of Joey Saldana closing in on him. Saldana could spare not a single inch of race track because on his rear tank was Tim Kaeding. The dash was not without its drama. Daryn Pittman was disqualified for violating the push rule under caution. The rule states that once the caution lights have gone out you cannot push a car on to the track surface. Pittman’s crew did just that and officials quickly disqualified the Kasey Kahne Racing Great Clips No. 9. Rico Abreu struggled and never took the green because the car lost power and would not refire on the pace laps.
The B Main was an exciting affair from second place back. Chad Kemenah would win, but Danny Lasoski, Steve Kinser, Kraig Kinser and Terry McCarl battled to the checkered flag for the remaining three spots in the A Main. Terry McCarl went home, but only by inches.
The A Main was set and, with Schatz on the pole and 30 laps to run, it seemed destined to be a wire to wire run for the reigning champion, but appearances were deceiving. Tim Kaeding got a jump on Saldana and Schatz on the green and took the lead into one. Although Schatz would take the lead back briefly, Kaeding came back out of Turn 4 six laps later and retook the lead. On the final restart the field lost Sammy Swindell with a flat left rear tire with 11 laps to go. On that restart the deciding card would be handed out by lady luck. Donny Schatz had a flat left front tire. Saldana had a right rear tire going down. Kaeding was on a fast track to victory. Schatz was able to hold on to a top-five position with a flat tire until the final turn when Kyle Larson finally made his way around the champ. Saldana held on until three to go when Sides rocketed by him to take second. All the while sitting quietly and making his way up was the 6 car of Bill Rose with David Gravel behind the wheel. Gravel brought home a top-five finish for the injured Rose and the first the car had seen in over two years. Kyle Larson came home the Hard Charger of the race after starting 15th and finishing fifth.
The story here in Las Vegas was the future of our sport. It was David Gravel and his ability to take a car he had never been in and make it competitive. It was Rico Abreu who runs few winged sprint races but yet made the feature both nights and, had it not been for magneto issues, showed the muscle and ability to run in the top-five. It was Kyle Larson and his incredible flexibility and instincts with a car. It was the resurgence of Jason Sides whose struggles over the last two years have been heart wrenching. It was the courage of a five-time champion to battle a flat tire and yet still hold on to a top-10 finish. It was Joey Saldana who after a long run with Kasey Kahne Racing made the decision it was time to move on and crawled into a legendary car, number and owner and then fought his way back from a difficult start to rekindle the memories of the 71M.
The story was about racing yes. It was about bad luck. It was about good luck. But it was about what will keep us all coming back for years to come. It was about youth and promise and the future of motorsports as the next generation of heroes and champions took the track to reassure us all that the end is nowhere near.
Qualifying Results: 1) Lucas Wolfe 14.507 2) Daryn Pittman 3) Paul McMahan 4) Jason Sides 5) Joey Saldana 6) Jason Meyers 7) Sammy Swindell 8) Brian Brown 9) Kyle Larson 10) Rico Abreu 11) Wayne Johnson 12) Donny Schatz 13) Tim Kaeding 14) Sam Hafertepe Jr. 15) David Gravel 16) Kerry Madsen 17) Cody Darrah 18) Chad Kemenah 19) Danny Lasoski. 20) Craig Dollansky 21) Steve Kinser 22) Jason Johnson 23) Kraig Kinser 24) Mitch Olson 25) Terry McCarl 26) Brady Bacon 27) Johnny Herrera 28) Logan Forler 29) Greg Wilson 30) Austen Wheatley 31) Kyle Hirst 32) Henry Van Dam 33) Roger Crockett 34) Mark Dobmeier 35) Glenn Styres 36) Carson Macedo 37) Jason Solwold 38) Mitch Mack 39) Jody Rosenboom 40) D.J. Netto
First Heat Race Results: 1) Tim Kaeding 2) Joey Saldana 3) Kyle Larson 4) Cody Darrah 5) Lucas Wolfe 6) Steve Kinser 7) Terry McCarl 8) Greg Wilson 9) Roger Crockett (DNS) 10) Jason Solwold (DNS)
Second Heat Race Results: 1) Sam Hafertepe Jr. 2) Rico Abreu 3) Jason Meyers 4) Daryn Pittman 5) Brady Bacon 6) Jason Johnson 7) Mark Dobmeier 8) Austen Wheatley 9) Mitch Mack 10) Chad Kemenah
Third Heat Race Results: 1) Wayne Johnson 2) David Gravel 3) Paul McMahan 4) Sammy Swindell 5) Kyle Hirst 6) Johnny Herrera 7) Gelenn Styres 8) Danny Lasosoki 9) Jody rosenboom 10) Kraig Kinser
Fourth Heat Race Results: 1) Kerry Madsen 2) Donny Schatz 3) Craig Dollansky 4) Jason Sides 5) Brian Brown 6) Logan Forler 7) Carson Macedo 8) Mitch Olson 9) Henry Van Dam 10) D.J. Netto
Dash Results: 1) Donny Schatz 2) Joey Saldana 3) Tim Kaeding 4) Lucas Wolfe 5) Sam Hafertepe Jr. 6) David Gravel 7) Wayne Johnson 8) Daryn Pittman 9) Rico Abreu 10) Kerry Madsen
B Main Results: 1) Chad Kemenah 2) Danny Lasoski 3) Steve Kinser 4) Kraig Kinser 5) Terry McCarl 6) Logan Forler 7) Johnny Herrera 8) Mark Dobmeier 9) Austen Wheatley 10) Henry Van Dam 11) Carson Macedo 12) Glenn Styres 13) D.J. Netto 14) Mitch Mack 15) Jason Johnson 16) Greg Wilson 17) Mitch Olson 18) Jody Rosenboom
A Main Results: 1) Tim Kaeding 2) Jason Sides 3) Joey Saldana 4) David Gravel 5) Kyle Larson 6) Donny Schatz 7) Daryn Pittman 8) Sam Hafertepe 9) Wayne Johnson 10) Lucas Wolfe 11) Paul McMahan 12) Craig Dollansky 13) Cody Darrah 14) Chad Kemenah 15) Brian Brown 16) Kerry Madsen 17) Jason Meyers 18) Steve Kinser 19) Kraig Kinser 20) Sammy Swindell 21) Brady Bacon 22) Kyle Hirst 23) Danny Lasoski 24) Rico Abreu
USAC SOUTHWEST & WEST COAST (SE) SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS: March 7, 2013 – Las Vegas, Nevada – Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track – “Sin City Showdown”
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Shon Deskins (#20 Deskins), 2. Rusty Carlile (#51 Carlile), 3. Mike Martin (#16 Martin), 4. Charles Davis Jr. (#50 Massey), 5. Bruce St. James (#7K St. James), 6. Colby Copeland (#74 Williams), 7. James Aragon (#94 Aragon). NT
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Ryan Bernal (#73 Ford), 2. Stevie Sussex (#1AZ Sussex), 3. Bud Kaeding (#29 Bowman), 4. Richard Vander Weerd (#10 Vander Weerd), 5. Jace Vander Weerd (#88 Vander Weerd), 6. Trevor Cooper (#89K Kruseman). NT
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. R.J. Johnson (#77M Michaels), 2. Mike Spencer (#7M Priestley), 3. Bryan Clauson (#16B Martin), 4. Cory Kruseman (#21K Kruseman), 5. Brody Roa (#91 BR), 6. Andy Reinbold (#19 Underwood). NT
FEATURE: (25 laps) 1. Bryan Clauson, 2. R.J. Johnson, 3. Richard Vander Weerd, 4. Rusty Carlile, 5. Shon Deskins, 6. Charles Davis Jr., 7. Cory Kruseman, 8. Bruce St. James, 9. Bud Kaeding, 10. Mike Martin, 11. Brody Roa, 12. Ryan Bernal, 13. Jace Vander Weerd, 14. Mike Spencer, 15. Andy Reinbold, 16. Trevor Cooper, 17. Colby Copeland, 18. James Aragon, 19. Stevie Sussex. NT