Keeping Pace

World of Outlaws Preview: Riverside International Speedway

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)

Donny Schatz, the three-time and defending World of Outlaws champion, won for the first time in his career at Riverside last season, leading all 40 laps to take the victory over Craig Dollansky and Joey Saldana. Schatz has won three times this season and is the current series point leader on the strength of a series-best seven Top-Five finishes as he chases his fourth consecutive title.

World of Outlaws Preview: Riverside International Speedway

History abounds at Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, Arkansas and the World of Outlaws look to continue to add to the legacy of the historic ¼-mile this weekend. Nearly every legendary sprint car driver has competed at the track over the years and countless drivers cut their teeth at the always racy ¼-mile, which is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this season. The World of Outlaws will make their only stop of the season in the state of Arkansas this Friday, April 24 for a full night of racing at Riverside International Speedway, with $10,000 on the line to the winner.

The World of Outlaws competed at Riverside International Speedway for the first time in 1979 with Ron Shuman picking up the win. Steve Kinser also won that season to pick up the first of his two career wins with the series at the ¼-mile. He is the only driver that has won more than once with the series at Riverside. In eight events for the series at the track, seven drivers have picked up wins. In each of the last seven races, a different driver has taken the checkered flag.

For the first time since 1981, Sammy Swindell, the three-time World of Outlaws champions, will compete in a World of Outlaws event at his home track. He won in his last start with the World of Outlaws there and has only raced at the track twice over the last 24 years. Prior to that, he amassed an amazing record at the ¼-mile, winning nearly 60 times and finishing in the Top-10 in each and every race that he has ever taken part in there.

Donny Schatz led all 40 laps last season at the track to score his first career win there in just his second start. The three-time and defending series champion has won three times this year and is the current series point leader as he chases his fourth consecutive title.

Slidejobs- Riverside International Speedway

A home track advantage: Sammy Swindell, the three-time World of Outlaws champion has an unmatched record at Riverside International Speedway, his home track. The native of nearby Germantown, Tennessee has won at the track 59 times dating back to 1974 and has finished in the Top-10 in every single race he has ever competed in at the ¼-mile with most of those being Top-Five performances. His last win at the track came in 1983 and in the last 24 years he has only raced there twice, finishing second in an event in 1989 and eighth last season. He made his debut at the track in 1973, finishing fourth. He has one win with the World of Outlaws at the track, with that coming in 1981.

“It will nice to get back,” said Swindell. “I know the track is a little bit different and things aren’t exactly the way they used to be 25 years ago. It will be fun though.”


Another home town driver: Jason Sides lives just a stone’s throw from Riverside International Speedway on the Tennessee side of the state line in Bartlett. He made his first start at the historic ¼-mile in 1996, finishing sixth. He picked up Top-10 finishes in five of his first six career starts at the track. He has competed twice with the World of Outlaws at the track, where he has nine career Top-10 finishes. The 2003 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award winner is currently seventh in the series championship standings on the strength of eight Top-10 finishes with four of those being Top-Fives.


Always strong at Riverside:
Steve Kinser, the 20-time World of Outlaws champion, has four wins in his career at Riverside International Speedway with a couple of those coming with the series. He has 10 Top-Five finishes in 11 career starts at the ¼--mile. He was third at the track in 2007 in his first start there in 18 years and was fifth last season. The native of Bloomington, Indiana enters this weekend leading the series with 11 Top-10 finishes in 12 starts and is currently second in points.


Looking for two in a row: Donny Schatz, the three-time and defending World of Outlaws champion, won for the first time in his career at Riverside last season, leading all 40 laps to take the victory over Craig Dollansky and Joey Saldana. Schatz has won three times this season and is the current series point leader on the strength of a series-best seven Top-Five finishes as he chases his fourth consecutive title.

“We’re in good shape,” he recently said. “We just need to keep rolling. I’m proud of my guys. Every night they give me a car that will go anywhere on the race track. It will go on the top, the bottom or the middle and that is an accolade to this team and that’s why they do what they do and win the races they do.”


Sixth sense: Jason Meyers has made two career starts at Riverside International Speedway and has finished sixth in both of those races, the last two years. The native of Clovis, California won his second race of the season last weekend at Paducah International Raceway in Kentucky and is up to the third spot in the championship standings, just 12 markers out of second. He won earlier this season on a ¼-mile at Silver Dollar Speedway in his home state. He has 10 Top-10 finishes in 12 starts this season.

“In this sport, you always want to be hot,” Meyers recently said after winning. “You definitely want to be warming up as we get busy.”


Looking to gain a couple of spots:
Joey Saldana finished third at Riverside last season to earn his best career finish in his two visits to the ¼-mile. The second generation driver has won twice this year on ¼-mile tracks at Silver Dollar Speedway in California along with Houston Raceway Park in Texas. He leads the series with five wins in 12 starts and is currently fourth in points.


Closing in: Craig Dollansky finished ninth in his debut at Riverside in 2007 and was third last season at the track. In the midst of his first season driving for Kasey Kahne Racing, the veteran driver is fifth in points on the strength of seven Top-10 finishes.


A couple of Top-10’s: Terry McCarl has made two career starts at Riverside International Speedway and has finished in the Top-10 in both of them. He enters competition this weekend a very solid eighth in the championship standings on the strength of eight Top-10 finishes. The six-time Knoxville Raceway and Huset’s Speedway track champion plans to stay on the World of Outlaws tour.


A long time in betweens starts: Jac Haudenschild competed for the first time at Riverside International Speedway in 1982, finishing third. He did not race again at the track until the World of Outlaws return to the ¼-mile in 2007. He finished fourth last season at the track.


Looking to use what he learned:
Brian Ellenberger won last season at Riverside with the All Star Circuit of Champions and looks to use what he learned in that event as he returns to the bullring for the third time in his career this weekend and first with the World of Outlaws. The Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of Year contender recently added veteran crew chief Sonny Kratzer to his team.


By the Numbers: Riverside International Speedway
0.25- Miles around Riverside International Speedway
1- Event in the state of Arkansas this season for the World of Outlaws
2- Drivers competing with the World of Outlaws that call Riverside their home track, Sammy Swindell and Jason Sides
3- Consecutive years that the series has visited the track including this year
5- Drivers that have won A-Feature events with the World of Outlaws in 2009
6- Drivers that have been fastest in time trials this season
7- Drivers that have won A-Feature events with the series at Riverside International Speedway dating back to 1979
10- Drivers that have won the Crane Cams Dash to earn pole positions this season
11- Drivers competing full-time with the World of Outlaws this season that raced at Riverside with the series last year
11.060- Track record established by Jason Solwold in time trials in 2007
12- A-Feature events that have been contested by the World of Outlaws through April 17
32- Drivers that competed with the World of Outlaws at the track last season
40- Laps led by Donny Schatz en route to winning at Riverside last season
59- Career wins for Sammy Swindell at Riverside International Speedway
81.374- Track record in miles per hour set in 2007
112- Laps led in feature racing competition by Joey Saldana this season to lead the series
249- Miles from I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Missouri where the World of Outlaws were scheduled to race on April 18 (before being rained out) to Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, Arkansas
401- Laps completed in feature racing competition this season by the World of Outlaws
1979- Year the World of Outlaws first competed at Riverside International Speedway
10,000- Dollars the winner will receive on Friday, April 24
51,690- Dollars in the total purse on Friday, April 24




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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.




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