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Keeping Pace

World of Outlaws Preview: National Open at Williams Grove Speedway

Steve Kinser has won 38 times in his career at Williams Grove Speedway, including four times in the National Open. In his career at the track, the 20-time series champion has nearly 100 Top-Five finishes and well over 100 Top-10’s.


Courtesy: WoO Sprint Car Series Media Relations

Mechanicsburg, PA—September 30, 2009—Always the biggest event of the season at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, the National Open will have added significance this season as it will be the richest weekend of racing in the storied history of the half-mile, with a single driver having an opportunity to take home $78,000 if they win all three of the A-Feature events that will be contested over the two days beginning on Friday, October 2. Adding even more to the event is the fact that with the World of Outlaws championship point race coming down to the wire, with just nine points separating Donny Schatz and Jason Meyers at the top, with Joey Saldana third, only 38 markers behind. On top of that, the finale of the National Open on Saturday, October 3 will air live on SPEED beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Donny Schatz the three-time and defending World of Outlaws champion, won the National Open in 2007, with last year’s race falling to rain, though the track ran a version of the National Open a few weeks later with Cody Darrah coming out on top. Schatz has won the famed event four times in his career. If he can win the National Open this weekend, he would be the first driver in the 47-year history of the event to win it five times.

Steve Kinser, the 20-time series champion, has also won the National Open on four occasions with the most recent of those coming in 2003. He won the famed event for the first time in 1990. He has won 38 times in his career at the track and has well over 100 Top-10 finishes at the half-mile.

There has been two World of Outlaws A-Feature events at Williams Grove this season, with Greg Hodnett taking the checkered flag in both of them. Mother Nature has also won twice at the half-mile this season.

Following qualifying on Friday night for the opener of the National Open, the Crane Cams Dash and A-Feature from the Summer Nationals which was postponed by rain back in July will be completed. Joey Saldana is set to start on the pole of that dash with Cody Darrah on the outside of the front row, with the finish of that six-lap contest setting the first five rows for the $20,000 A-Feature. Following that, the rest of the opener of the National Open will be contested, with $8,000 going to the winner and then on Saturday night, $50,000 awaits the winner of the 40-lapper.


Slidejobs- National Open at Williams Grove Speedway:

Looking to make history: Donny Schatz has won the National Open four times in his career and is one of just two drivers along with Steve Kinser to accomplish this feat. Schatz has 15 career wins at Williams Grove Speedway along with 44 Top-10 finishes of which 33 are Top-Five performances. He has finished eighth or better in 20 of his last 21 starts at the track. This season he finished fifth in his first start at the track coming all the way from the 23rd starting spot and was eighth at the track back in July. The North Dakota native has won 12 times this season as he chases his fourth consecutive title and has won in five of the last six seasons at Williams Grove Speedway.


A lot of wins:
Steve Kinser has won 38 times in his career at Williams Grove Speedway, including four times in the National Open. In his career at the track, the 20-time series champion has nearly 100 Top-Five finishes and well over 100 Top-10’s. Kinser is currently fourth in points this season and has won twice. Like Schatz, if he won the National Open, Kinser would become the first five-time winner of the race.


Hone sweet home:
Williams Grove Speedway is Lucas Wolfe’s home track. The reigning Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year has eight wins at the track in his career. He has nearly 70 Top-10 finishes at the half-mile dating back to 2003 which was his first full season competing at the legendary oval. This season, Wolfe has 15 Top-10 finishes and is 10th in points in his sophomore year on the road with the World of Outlaws.


Chasing that elusive first win:
Jason Meyers finished third in the opener of the Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway back in July, which was his second podium finish in his last three starts at the half-mile as he chases his first win there. In his career, the native of Clovis, California has 15 Top-10 finishes at the half-mile with eight of those being Top-Fives. He is currently second in points heading into the National Open, just nine markers behind Donny Schatz as he chases his first title. Meyers lead the series with 49 Top-10 finishes in the 59 A-Feature events that have been contested this season.


A good spot to start:
Joey Saldana will start on the pole for the Crane Cams Dash on Friday night as the program from the Summer Nationals which was postponed by rain back in July will be completed. Saldana leads the series with 18 A-Feature wins this season and is currently third in points, 38 markers out of the lead as he also chases his first series title. The native of Brownsburg, Indiana has won once in his career at Williams Grove, with that coming in a preliminary feature in 2002. He has 25 career Top-10 finishes at the track with 13 of those being Top-Five performances.


Carrying momentum:
Jason Sides heads to Williams Grove having won the most recent World of Outlaws event at Eldora Speedway on September 25. The native of Bartlett, Tennessee has won twice this season and is currently fifth in points on the strength of 44 Top-10 finishes with 23 of those being Top-Fives. In his career at Williams Grove, Sides has nine Top-10 finishes, highlighted by a third-place performance in the opener of the 2007 Summer Nationals.


It’s been a while:
Danny Lasoski has won twice at Williams Grove Speedway with the most recent of those coming in 2004. The 2001 series champion has won five times this season including in the state of Pennsylvania at Lernerville Speedway in the opener of the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup Twin 30’s. Lasoski is currently sixth in points on the strength of 38 Top-10 finishes.


A return trip: Kraig Kinser continues to learn the intricacies of racing at Williams Grove Speedway after returning to the famed half-mile last season for the first time in three years. He has four career Top-10 finishes at the track with one of those being a sixth-place effort in 2005 while driving a team car to his father Steve. The third generation driver is currently eighth in the World of Outlaws championship standings this season on the strength of 28 Top-10 finishes with 10 of those being Top-Fives.


Plenty of starts: Jac Haudenschild made his first start at Williams Grove Speedway in 1983, finishing third in that event. He finished sixth or better in each of his first nine starts at Williams Grove Speedway between 1983 and 1986. He won for the first time at the half-mile later in the 1986 season and was victorious for the second time at the track in 1997. He has made well over 100 starts at the track over the last 25 years and has nearly 60 Top-10 finishes at the track. The Ohio native is currently ninth in points on the strength of 29 Top-10 finishes as he chases his first win of the 2009 campaign.


A trip across the state: Brian Ellenberger, the leading contender for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award, who hails from Butler, Pennsylvania on the Western side of the state will make the trip east to Central Pennsylvania this weekend for the National Open. He raced at Williams Grove for the first time in 1997 and has competed there in seven different seasons during his career.


By the Numbers: National Open at Williams Grove Speedway:
0.5-Miles around Williams Grove Speedway
2- Drivers that hail from the state of Pennsylvania competing full-time with the World of Outlaws this season
5- Feature events for the World of Outlaws at Williams Grove Speedway this season
7- Drivers competing full-time with the World of Outlaws that have won during their career at Williams Grove Speedway
8- Wins for Lucas Wolfe in his career at his home track
9- Points separating Donny Schatz and Jason Meyers in the series championship standings heading into the National Open
14-Drivers that have won A-Feature events with the World of Outlaws this season
15-Career wins for Donny Schatz at Williams Grove Speedway
16.140-Track record set by Brian Paulus in time trials in 2002
18- A-Feature wins for Joey Saldana this season to lead the series
19-Drivers that have been quickest in time trials with the World of Outlaws this season
20- Drivers that have won the Crane Cams Dash this season to earn pole positions
24- Drivers that have led laps in A-Feature events this season with the World of Outlaws
35- Laps led by Greg Hodnett this season at Williams Grove Speedway en route to winning both World of Outlaws events
36- Top-Five finishes for Donny Schatz through September 25 to lead all drivers
38- Career wins for Steve Kinser at Williams Grove Speedway
46- Times the National Open has been held dating back to 1963
49- Top-10 finishes for Jason Meyers to lead all drivers through September 25
59- A-Feature events contested this season through September 25 by the World of Outlaws
163- Total events contested by the World of Outlaws at Williams Grove Speedway including preliminary features dating back to 1978
432- Laps led by Joey Saldana this season to lead the series
475- Miles from Eldora Speedway in Ohio where the World of Outlaws competed on September 25 to Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
1939- Year that racing began at Williams Grove Speedway
1963- Year the National Open was first held
1967- Year that weekly sprint car racing began at Williams Grove Speedway
1978- Year the World of Outlaws first competed at Williams Grove Speedway
8,000- Dollars the winner will receive for the opener of the National Open on Friday, October 2
20,000- Dollars the winner will receive for winning the postponed finale of the Summer Nationals on Friday, October 2
50,000- Dollars the winner will receive on Saturday, October 3
332,535- Dollars earned by Joey Saldana this season to lead the World of Outlaws through September 25


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

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