World of Outlaws Wrap-up: Night Three of the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH
38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals Champion: Stevie Smith, who is eighth on the World of Outlaws all-time win list with 66 career A-Feature triumphs, used a runner-up finish on Sunday night to wrap up the overall title in the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH at Volusia Speedway Park.
The second generation driver finished sixth or better in five of the six races during the week of action at the half-mile, including two consecutive Top-Five finishes with the World of Outlaws to wrap up the his stay in the Sunshine state. He was victorious last Thursday with the All Star Circuit of Champions as well and was quickest in time trials twice en route to the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH crown.
“We’re very excited about winning it,” said Smith. “Coming into this week, we didn’t really know what to expect, because this is a new team. I’m very happy with how everything went this week and am very proud of my team. Everyone worked very hard.”
Putting on a show: After changing an engine and a fuel tank after the Crane Cams Dash, 20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser, elected to start Sunday’s 30-lap A-Feature at the back of the field, as his engine was not running right when the car was pushed off. After taking the green flag at the back of the field and feeling out the car for the first couple of laps to determine if he could run the event or not, Kinser began passing cars just three laps into the race. He fell back to 24th on the seventh lap and after that he steadily progressed through the field, passing a car nearly every lap over the course of the remaining 23 laps to finish a very impressive fifth, which moved him into second in points as he chases his record 21st title.
“We had something wrong,” Kinser explained. “We don’t know if it was a fuel problem or what, but it wouldn’t even run at all. I elected to go to the tail because I was afraid I would cause a wreck. I was just going to hang in there and run a few laps and pull in, and that first yellow came out, it acted like it started running a little bit better. I kept hanging around and it came in a little bit, but it never came in right. It was so sick it could barely spin the tires. I just went ahead and kept running and the car itself was pretty good and we came back up through there somehow. It just goes to show you don’t need a whole lot of horsepower sometimes.”
Young and fast: Cale Conley won his first career Crane Cams Dash on Sunday night to earn the pole position in the A-Feature, in addition to turning the second fastest lap in time trials. The native of Vienna, West Virginia is just 16 years of age and is in just his second season behind the wheel of a sprint car. He ran in the Top-Three of the A-Feature event for a number of laps on Sunday night en route to a very impressive ninth-place performance to earn his first career Top-10 with the World of Outlaws. The 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH marked Conley’s first trip to Volusia Speedway Park and the first time he has ever competed on a half-mile track in a sprint car.
“It’s really intimidating, standing here looking through the pits and you see guys like Craig Dollansky and Wayne Johnson,” shared Conley. “It makes you think where you are at. When you get out on the track, everyone is a competitor, and you look beside you and see you guys that you have seen on TV. It’s a weird feeling.”
Finishing on the right foot: Chad Kemenah, the 2006 World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year, finished third on Sunday night to wrap up the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, to score his second Top-10 run of the week, as he and his Hard 8 Racing team continue to gel after the addition of veteran crew chief Bonzai Bruns over the winter. After an early caution, the race went the remaining 24 laps nonstop, with the leaders in lapped traffic for most of the rest of the way, which suited Kemenah just fine.
“Everyone is so professional and wants to win,” Kemenah noted. “The fans get to see a great race. With the caliber of guys we have racing out here that has a lot to do with seeing long green flag runs.”
Steady & solid: Daryn Pittman had a very consistent week at the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals, capping it off with a fourth-place run on Sunday night. The native of Owasso, Oklahoma, who won four times with the World of Outlaws last season, had four finishes of seventh or better in the six nights of racing at Volusia Speedway Park, where he is a former winner. Pittman set fast time as well on Sunday night with a stout field of cars in attendance.
“We finished on a good note and were solid all week,” said Pittman. “Besides (Donny) Schatz, Stevie (Smith) and Steve Kinser, I feel like we were one of the five most consistent cars all week. We qualified well and raced well all week. It would have been nice to get a win. We accomplished what we wanted to do. We came down here at the last minute and fielded a real competitive car and that was my first goal.”
Alltel DIRTcar All-Star Voting: Voting is underway for the 2009 Alltel DIRTcar All-Star. Each driver that wins an A-Feature event during the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH is eligible, with the top vote getter on February 28 receiving $10,000. World of Outlaws drivers that are eligible include Joey Saldana and Donny Schatz. Also eligible in the sprint car category is Stevie Smith. Fans can vote via text message or online.
Through six nights of competition at the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH, the Alltel All-Star contenders and their text message Letter Codes (in parenthesis) include: Sprint Cars — Donny Schatz, Fargo, N.D. (b); Stevie Smith, Broken Arrow, Okla. (d); Joey Saldana, Brownsburg, Ind. (f).
Media gallery: Photos from the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series portion of the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH for the World of Outlaws can be seen online by visiting http://www.worldofoutlaws.com/sprint/Media/020309_ALLTEL_DIRTcar_Nationals_UNOH/Media.aspx. Video clips from the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals can also be viewed in the media gallery.
Up next: The World of Outlaws head west for a return to Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Thursday, February 26. It will mark the series first visit to the half-mile since the 2006 season finale.