Joey Saldana heads to Paducah on the wings of two consecutive victories last weekend in Texas, which has brought his season total to five, which matches his total number of wins in all of 2008 with the World of Outlaws.
World of Outlaws Preview: Paducah International Raceway
With the weather warming up and the season kicking into high gear, the World of Outlaws make their first visit of the season to the Midwest this week for a doubleheader weekend beginning on Friday, April 17 at Paducah International Raceway in Kentucky. It will mark the series only visit this season to the Bluegrass State
The World of Outlaws have competed four times at the high-banked 3/8-mile dating back to 1998, with four different drivers scoring victories in those events. The winners of each of the series last two stops at the track will be in action this weekend, with Craig Dollansky the defending winner of the race, along with Danny Lasoski who was victorious at Paducah in 2007, which was his last visit to the track.
The race at Paducah will be the second of six consecutive stops at high-banked bullrings for the World of Outlaws. Donny Schatz, the three-time and defending series champions enters the event as the current point leader by 24 markers over 20-time champion Steve Kinser. Joey Saldana, who has won the last two races and has a series-best five wins in 2009, is just four points behind Kinser as the pair looks to track down Schatz. Jason Meyers is currently fourth with Craig Dollansky fifth.
Slidejobs- Paducah International Raceway
Carrying plenty of momentum: Joey Saldana heads to Paducah on the wings of two consecutive victories last weekend in Texas, which has brought his season total to five, which matches his total number of wins in all of 2008 with the World of Outlaws. He has come close to winning at Paducah in the past, leading 32 laps in 2007 before finishing second. He was eighth in his debut at the track in 2001. His two wins last weekend helped him move to third in points, just four markers behind 20-time series champion Steve Kinser, as the pair chases three-time and defending series titlist Donny Schatz.
Back up front: After having some bad luck during the final couple of races of the West Coast swing, three-time and defending series champion Donny Schatz got back on track last weekend scoring two runner-up finishes and extending his lead in the championship standings to 24 markers over 20-time champion Steve Kinser. Schatz finished seventh at Paducah last season after setting a new track record in time trials and was sixth the year before.
“The last couple of times we’ve raced there, we learned something,” noted Schatz. “We were really good there last summer. I had a mechanical problem during the feature and, basically, just held on to finish eighth. Obviously, the more you go to a track, the more information and notes you can build. I’m sure we’ll be ready to get back out there and try to do better than we have in the past.”
Podium power: Steve Kinser has finished on the podium in three of his four career starts at Paducah. He enters the event this week second in the World of Outlaws championship standings with a series-best 10 Top-10 finishes in 11 races. He is just 24 points behind Donny Schatz as he chases his record 21st title. He has six Top-Five finishes this season as he closes in on his first win.
Oh so close: Jason Meyers came close to winning at Paducah last season, taking the lead from Craig Dollansky on the 27th lap, though the caution flag came out before the lap was complete, putting him back to second, where he would eventually finish. The California native won earlier this season in his home state at Silver Dollar Speedway and is currently fourth in points on the strength of nine Top-10 finishes.
Back in the Midwest: Danny Lasoski, the 2001 World of Outlaws champion, has always run up front at Paducah with the World of Outlaws. He won in 2007, his last start at the track, coming all the way from 15th on the grid to take the lead from Joey Saldana with just three laps remaining. In two other starts at the high-banked bullring, Lasoski has finished fourth and sixth. After two Top-Five finishes last weekend in Texas, the native of Dover, Missouri is up to the eighth spot in the championship standings.
“I really like the race track and I have won there in the past,” said Lasoski. “I am looking forward to racing there and seeing if we can get our first win of the year.”
Closing in on a win: Craig Dollansky continues to close in on his first win of the season driving for Kasey Kahne Racing. The veteran drive finished second at Houston Raceway Park in Texas last weekend and is up to the fifth spot in points. He won last season at Paducah International Raceway holding off a late race charge by Jason Meyers.
“We’re working with our program and trying to get stronger as we go and I think we are making progress,” said Dollansky after his runner-up finish last Saturday night. “We’ll just keep plugging away and get this Direct TV car up in Victory Lane one of these times.”
One start, one strong run: Sammy Swindell, the three-time World of Outlaws champion, has made just one start in his career at Paducah International Raceway, with that coming in 1998. He finished fifth in that race, which was won by his brother Jeff. The native of Germantown, Tennessee has seven Top-10 finishes this season and is sixth in points.
Better each time: Jason Sides, the 2004 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year, has improved on his finishing spot in each of his last two starts at Paducah. He was 10th in 2007 and sixth last season. He scored his seventh Top-10 finishes of the season last Saturday night at Houston Raceway Park and is seventh in the series standings.
Three for three: Terry McCarl has three Top-10 finishes in his three career starts at Paducah International Raceway. He was third in his debut at the track in 2004, seventh in 2007 and eighth last season. The six-time Knoxville Raceway and Huset’s Speedway track champion has seven Top-10 finishes this season.
A consistent start: Kraig Kinser has started the 2009 season off with six Top-10 finishes as he looks for his first win of the year. The third generation driver has a couple of starts at Paducah International Raceway in his career and finished 10th at the track last season, which is co-owned by his car owner Tony Stewart.
“The key, now, is for us to figure out how to finish the race strong and move those finishes up to top-fives,” said Kinser. “This weekend, we’re going to places where we’ve been pretty good in the past. Hopefully, we can have more success at them again and this can be the start of a good swing through the Midwest for us.”
First timers: Lucas Wolfe and Brian Ellenberger will both make their first starts at Paducah International Raceway this weekend. Wolfe did visit the track last season in May and took part in hot laps and time trials before the rest of the racing program was washed out by rain during heat race action. He missed the make-up event in July as he was recovering from an injury sustained in early June.
Texas Two-Step Photo Gallery: A photo gallery from all of the action of last week’s Texas Two-Step weekend at Lone Star Speedway and Houston Raceway Park can be viewed at:
By the Numbers: Paducah International Raceway
0.375- Miles around Paducah International Raceway
1- Race this season for the World of Outlaws in Kentucky
2- Track records that have been established in time trials this year
4-Current and former series champions that will be in action in the race; A-Feature events contested by the World of Outlaws at Paducah dating back to 1998
5- A-Feature wins for Joey Saldana this season to lead the series
6- Drivers that have been fastest in time trials this season
9- Drivers that won races on 3/8-mile tracks with the World of Outlaws in 2008
10- Top-10 finishes for Steve Kinser in the first 11 races of the season to lead the series
12- Drivers that have led laps in A-Feature competition this season
13.107- Track record established by Donny Schatz at Paducah in time trials last season
21- Times the World of Outlaws competed on 3/8-mile tracks last season
24- Points that separate Donny Schatz and Steve Kinser at the top of the World of Outlaws standings
35- Laps led by Craig Dollansky en route to winning at Paducah last season
102.998- Track record in miles per hour established by Donny Schatz in 2008
775-Miles from Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas where the World of Outlaws competed on Saturday, April 11 to Paducah International Raceway in Kentucky
1998- Season the World of Outlaws first competed at Paducah International Raceway
10,000- Dollars the winner will receive on Friday, April 17
51,690- Dollars in the total purse on Friday, April 17
57,475- Dollars earned by Joey Saldana this season to lead the series