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Keeping Pace

2009 Season Review: Craig Dollansky

Craig Dollansky was victorious for the first time in 2009 at Lebanon Valley Speedway in New York in late July and followed that up with a victory in the opener of the inaugural Ironman 55 at I-55 Raceway in Missouri and also triumphed at River Cities Speedway in North Dakota.

Courtesy: WoO Sprint Car Series Media Relations

Concord, NC— Craig Dollansky was anxious for the 2009 season to get underway, after missing the final two months of the 2008 campaign after suffering a broken arm that required surgery. After a slow start, the veteran driver hit his stride in the middle of the summer and wound up winning three times on the World of Outlaws trail, finishing the season seventh in points on the strength of 41 Top-10 finishes with 21 of those being Top-Five performances.

Dollansky was victorious for the first time in 2009 at Lebanon Valley Speedway in New York in late July and followed that up with a victory in the opener of the inaugural Ironman 55 at I-55 Raceway in Missouri and also triumphed at River Cities Speedway in North Dakota.

After a parting of ways with the Kasey Kahne Racing team in September, Dollansky began to finalize plans to compete in 2010 for the Big Game Motorsports team and car owner Tod Quiring. The native of Elk River, Minnesota made his first start for the new team during the third annual World Finals at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway, with the car carrying Dollansky’s traditional No. 7 on it. He charged all the way from the 11th starting spot to finish fourth in his debut for the team in the first A-Feature of the season ending event.

“It had some bright spots in it, but overall, I think I’m happy to see it come to an end,” shared Dollansky when asked about the 2009 season. “I’m definitely looking forward to 2010 with this new team that we are starting up here with Tod Quiring and Big Game Treestands. I’m very encouraged with what I saw during the World Finals. Everything came together pretty good and there is a lot of work to be done for 2010 still, but to get things together as quick as we did to try to make the World Finals, I am pretty proud of everyone involved.”

One of Dollansky’s three wins this past season came in the opener of the inaugural Ironman 55 at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Missouri in thrilling fashion. He led the race early before reigning series champion Donny Schatz got around him on the 16th lap to take the point in lapped traffic. On the 25th lap, Dollansky went high off of turn four and nearly took the lead as the front pair charged down the front straightaway. He then took the top spot in turns one and two on the very next lap, with Jason Sides closing in as well and the trio running side-by-side. Dollansky would hold on for the final five laps to score his second career win at I-55 Raceway and his second win of 2009, which was the 30th win of his World of Outlaws career.

“That’s a great event that they created there and I think it’s going to be a successful event,” he said of the Ironman 55. “Anytime you get some crown jewel type races that are set up that way like the Kings Royal, Knoxville and they call that one the Ironman now, those are types of races you want to go and win.”

For the third consecutive season, Dollansky and his wife Julie promoted the Arnold Motor Supply Shootout at Clay County Fair Speedway in Spencer, Iowa. The couple added a “Pit Crew Challenge” to the event in 2009 which faced the teams off against each other and the clock as they changed a front axle on their race cars. Another huge crowd was on hand for the race which came down to the last lap with Jason Meyers taking the lead from Joey Saldana in turn two to pick up his first career victory at the historic fairgrounds track.

“We’re happy to be down to one show,” stated the native of Elk River, Minnesota when asked about his promoting duties. “Before we were trying to do two shows and it was pretty tough with the schedule that we have. It’s a pretty big undertaking there, but we have great support from the fair board. It’s turned out be a pretty good event, so we don’t mind being involved in that.”

The 2009 season marked the ninth consecutive year that Dollansky took to the road full-time with the World of Outlaws and his seventh-place showing in points was his sixth consecutive finish of seventh or higher and the eighth time overall in his career he has been in the Top-10 with the series at season’s end. Dollansky finished the year as one of just six drivers that won at least three A-Feature events. He led the fourth most laps of any driver this season and also won the Crane Cams Dash three times to earn pole positions in feature events.

“The competition is always as good as it gets out here,” explained Dollansky. “These teams work very hard and to win races out here is not something that is not easy to do. You have to have a good strong team all the way through and that is what we are focused on getting ready now.”

As he has for the last three off-seasons, Dollansky will head to New Zealand to do some racing during the off-season, as he looks to stay sharp for the open of the 2010 campaign, which is less than three months away. Dollansky has picked up four wins at a couple of different tracks in New Zealand over the past three off-seasons along with eight Top-Five finishes in a limited number of starts. He will also pay a visit to Australia to get a few more races in prior to the 2010 season.

“I’ve got some off-season race plans in New Zealand as well as Australia,” he said. “I’ll be home a little bit in the wintertime, do some snowmobiling and hang out with the family and friends and then get ready for February.”

The 2010 World of Outlaws season kicks off on February 5-7 with the 39th annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals by UHON at Volusia Speedway Park, where Dollansky had two career wins, including in the 2008 World of Outlaws season opener. He also won the overall Florida DIRTcar Nationals title that same season as well as in 2007.

By the Numbers Craig Dollansky 2009:
1-Race for Dollansky in his home state of Minnesota this season, Deer Creek Speedway; Event that he and his wife Julie promoted, with that coming at Clay County Fair Speedway in Iowa
2-Canadian Provinces that Dollansky competed in during 2009
3-A-Feature wins this season; Wins in the Crane Cams Dash to earn pole positions; Countries that Dollansky competed in this season- Canada, New Zealand & United States
4- Wins in the Last Chance Showdown to lead all drivers to race his way into the A-Feature
5- Penske Power Positions earned by finishing in the third position in feature events
6- KSE Hard Charger Awards earned, which was second best in the series; SuperClean Start of the Night Awards for having the best start in a racing event over the course of a race night
7- Spot in the final standings to earn the eighth Top-10 finish of his World of Outlaws career
8- Feature races in which Dollansky led laps in 2009
8.8- Average finishing spot for Dollansky in 2009
9- Consecutive years that Dollansky has competed full-time with the World of Outlaws
14- Spot on the all-time World of Outlaws win list for Dollansky
21- Top-Five finishes in 2009 for the native of Elk River, Minnesota
24- States that Dollansky competed in this past season
30- Times that Dollansky raced his way into the Crane Cams Dash in 2009
31- Career A-Feature wins which is 14th on the all-time list
41- Top-10 finishes this past season for Dollansky
44- Tracks that Dollansky competed at this season
151- Laps led in feature events
8172- Points earned to finish seventh in the championship standings
147,800- Dollars earned by the veteran driver in 2009

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Keeping Pace

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