|Photo courtesy of Craig Dollansky Racing|
The normally wide sweeping banks of Salina were narrowed to a basically one groove lightening fast track last night. A track that was too fast and too narrow to allow for much passing. Fans in attendance described the action as “follow the crowd pleaser” racing.
There were more problems than just a wet sloppy track, transponders malfunctioned for whatever reason leaving the finishing order in question until the early hours of the morning. The temperatures, although in the 50’s, were deemed too cold for spectators and the event was pushed through at a weather approaching pace even though the sun had come out briefly before sunset.
With only 22 cars in the field qualifying went quickly with Joey Saldana setting a new track record with a run of 11.177 seconds or 120.784 mph. The event was originally scheduled for Friday night but wet weather forced the race to run a day later, the cool temperatures equaled big horsepower as all but one of the competitors qualified under the previous track record of 12.874 seconds that had been held by Craig “The Crowd Pleaser” Dollansky.
The heat races showed minimal passing with the most positions gained being a single spot. Heat race winners were Sammy Swindell, Steve Kinser and Craig Dollansky.
The Dash held more of the same type racing with Dollansky showing the way over Outlaws points leader Daryn Pittman.
The A Main was hampered by the groove and a half track and was evidenced by the hard charger of the race Cody Darrah, picking up only four positions. The A would be won for the second time by Craig Dollansky. Dollansky fought off Paul McMahan’s relentless effort through heavy traffic in the 30-lap A-main to remain perfect in Outlaw competition at Salina, where he also won in 2011. Points leader Daryn Pittman was third with Sammy Swindell and Joey Saldana rounding out the top five.
“It’s a great racetrack, a beautiful facility,” said Dollansky, of Elk River, Minn. “I was up in the grandstands earlier today, it’s just nice all the way around. It was a fast racetrack tonight with the rain, it definitely made for a fast race. To start with we had to put ourselves in position to have a little luck on our side to get a good pill draw for the dash, but then you also have to capitalize on it. It was a great win for this entire race team.”
“I felt like we were losing some air in the right rear tire and I could feel myself getting tighter, especially behind cars, so I was trying to adjust our line a little bit and watch what we were doing behind lapped cars,” Dollansky said. “Some of those lapped cars we were able to get by pretty easy but we definitely got pretty tight behind some other ones.”
McMahan was trying to seize the lead in his CJB Motorsports machine, but while he could get up to Dollansky he was unable to carry enough momentum to surge past him. Still, it was a remarkable performance after the team was forced to change motors early in the night, putting them behind from the start.
“We started off the night real bad,” said McMahan, a California native who lives near Nashville. “We had to change motors after we broke a pin on the mag so we had to change motors and got no hot laps. We went out to qualify and ended up third quick that made a good night for us. It put us in the dash and we were able to gain a couple of spots in the dash and start fourth in the feature. We got rolling pretty good, we got to third right on the start and got underneath Daryn when he got a little tight with a lapped car. We freed up a lot from the dash to the main event and I just kept trying to run the bottom as hard as I could. Craig was getting a little tight and kind of sliding up a little bit. I was getting close to him off of turn four a couple of times but I just didn’t have enough to get by.”
Dollansky who was in traffic by Lap 3 never missed a mark and held the lead from the drop of the green.
“You’re trying to hit your marks on every lap and he was opening up the corner far enough where I could actually get underneath him a little bit on entrance to make the tight corner ... but that was the only way I was going to get by him,” McMahan said. “There was no way I was going to be able to drive around him on the top.”
Outlaws points leader Daryn Pittman, who is from Oklahoma, started alongside Dollansky on the front row and tried to hold back McMahan while chasing down Dollansky, but wound up settling for third in the Kasey Kahne Racing Great Clips car.
“If you got in at all too hot you get the air off you and get tight and push up,” said Pittman, who was raised near Tulsa and definitely drew the majority of cheers during driver introductions. “It felt like it would kill the motor and it seemed like it would take a lap for it to get wound up again. It felt like you were going to lose spots. As tough as it was to pass, you still had to be on it and hit your marks, make sure you kept clean air on the wing so the car did work as good as possible.”
In the heat of the summer, a clay surface is a God send to dirt racing. In the spring not so much, just as its ability to hold water is a blessing in the heat and dry of summer, it is equally a curse in the spring and fall when the heavy rains of spring bring life to the earth. It’s an understood thing that Mother Nature is not a race fan. She never has been and likely never will be. But the Outlaws went toe to toe with the elegant lady and this time they broke even and move on to the historic high banks of the Grand Dame of Dirt, Eldora Speedway.
Qualifying: 1. 71M-Joey Saldana, 11.177; 2. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr, 11.220; 3. 51-Paul McMahan, 11.245; 4. 82-Lucas Wolfe, 11.271; 5. 29-Kerry Madsen, 11.291; 6. 63-Chad Kemenah, 11.328; 7. 1-Sammy Swindell, 11.383; 8. 6-David Gravel, 11.390; 9. 7-Craig Dollansky, 11.421; 10. 9-Daryn Pittman, 11.424; 11. 11-Steve Kinser, 11.464; 12. 41-Jason Johnson, 11.539; 13. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 11.541; 14. 77X-Wayne Johnson, 11.590; 15. 15-Donny Schatz, 11.608; 16. 4-Cody Darrah, 11.764; 17. 74X-Josh Hodges, 11.779; 18. 2L-Logan Forler, 11.846; 19. 93-Dustin Morgan, 11.878; 20. O5-Brad Loyet, 11.891; 21. 97-Kevin Cummings, 14.086; 22. 1J-Danny Jennings, 12.606
Heat 1 - (8 Laps - Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 1-Sammy Swindell ; 2. 9-Daryn Pittman ; 3. 71M-Joey Saldana ; 4. 82-Lucas Wolfe ; 5. 11K-Kraig Kinser ; 6. 93-Dustin Morgan ; 7. 1J-Danny Jennings ; 8. 4-Cody Darrah 
Heat 2 - (8 Laps - Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 11-Steve Kinser ; 2. 6-David Gravel ; 3. 29-Kerry Madsen ; 4. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr ; 5. 77X-Wayne Johnson ; 6. 74X-Josh Hodges ; 7. O5-Brad Loyet 
Heat 3 - (8 Laps - Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 7-Craig Dollansky ; 2. 41-Jason Johnson ; 3. 51-Paul McMahan ; 4. 63-Chad Kemenah ; 5. 2L-Logan Forler ; 6. 15-Donny Schatz ; 7. 97-Kevin Cummings 
Dash - (6 Laps, finishing order determined first 10 starting positions of A-feature): 1. 7-Craig Dollansky ; 2. 9-Daryn Pittman ; 3. 1-Sammy Swindell ; 4. 51-Paul McMahan ; 5. 6-David Gravel ; 6. 71M-Joey Saldana ; 7. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr ; 8. 11-Steve Kinser ; 9. 41-Jason Johnson ; 10. 82-Lucas Wolfe 
A-Main - (30 Laps): 1. 7-Craig Dollansky  [$10,000]; 2. 51-Paul McMahan  [$5,500]; 3. 9-Daryn Pittman  [$3,200]; 4. 1-Sammy Swindell  [$2,800]; 5. 71M-Joey Saldana  [$2,500]; 6. 11-Steve Kinser  [$2,300]; 7. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr  [$2,200]; 8. 41-Jason Johnson  [$2,100]; 9. 6-David Gravel  [$2,050]; 10. 29-Kerry Madsen  [$2,000]; 11. 82-Lucas Wolfe  [$1,500]; 12. 63-Chad Kemenah  [$1,200]; 13. 15-Donny Schatz  [$1,100]; 14. 77X-Wayne Johnson  [$1,050]; 15. 4-Cody Darrah  [$1,000]; 16. 11K-Kraig Kinser  [$900]; 17. 93-Dustin Morgan  [$800]; 18. 74X-Josh Hodges  [$800]; 19. 97-Kevin Cummings  [$800]; 20. 2L-Logan Forler  [$800]; 21. O5-Brad Loyet  [$800]; 22. 1J-Danny Jennings  [$800]. Lap Leader: Craig Dollansky 1-30. KSE Hard Charger Award: 4-Cody Darrah [+4]