|The World of Outlaws visited Arizona Speedway for the first time on Sunday, March 6th|
The stars of the World of Outlaws made their inaugural visit to Arizona Speedway on Sunday, March 6th. This marked the first time the famed Winged Sprint Car touring series visited the Phoenix-area since 2009, following the closure of Manzanita Speedway. Arizona Speedway is located in Queen Creek, which is about 40 miles southeast of Phoenix, just east of Chandler and North of San Tan Valley.
|Arizona Speedway is a 1/3 mile semi-banked dirt oval (view from turns 1 & 2)|
|Guard rails line the corners & back stretch, while concrete blocks protect the grandstands (view from turn 4)|
It was a beautiful Arizona day, in the mid-to-high 70’s, while scattered clouds provided some relief from the glaring sun. I arrived to the track around 2:30pm local time, surprised to discover there were already about 30 cars in the parking lot, with several fans enjoying cold beverages in preparation for the night’s racing, which began at 7:00pm. The pits were already busy, with several more haulers working their way onto the facility grounds! With the sun shining for most of the day, along with a steady breeze, track preparation would be very important, as it is at any Dirt Track.
|360 “NAPA Non-Wing” Sprint Cars accompanied the World of Outlaws on the night’s schedule|
Track officials applied a heavy amount of water, prior to hot laps, making the track very moist and heavy. 360 cubic-inch “NAPA Non-Wing” Sprint Cars were the first to hotlap and begin the track-packing process. 26 World of Outlaws Sprint Cars made the call and were separated into 3 hotlap sessions, along with 3 heat races. Hotlaps saw lap times drop nearly 1 full second, as they progressed. “The Madman” Kerry Madsen was the only driver to dip below a 13-second lap time in hotlaps, circling the 1/3 mile at 12.963 seconds!
|A packed crowd was on-hand as hotlaps begin, shortly after 6:00pm local time|
Qualifying was next on the docket and went-off without a hitch, as well. “Blackjack” Brian Brown claimed Quick Time on the evening, circling the 1/3 mile track in a jaw-dropping 12.531 seconds. Almost more impressive, 19 of the 26 cars laid-down qualifying laps under 13-seconds! Once qualifying had ended, the track was only about half-packed, with the top half still being very moist and sloppy. Track officials had push trucks circle the track on the outside, attempting to assist with the packing process.
|World of Outlaws Sprint Cars – Heat Race 1|
9 cars started Heat Race 1, with only 6 being assured a starting spot in the main event. After setting Quick Time, Brian Brown started on pole, but had a very poor start and faded quickly. It seemed the key to a fast lap was to keep the right rear tire above the packed surface, letting it eat-away at the moisture still remaining in the top-half of the track. “The Big Cat” Brad Sweet fended-off David Gravel to win Heat 1, with Donny Schatz, Brian Brown, Jason Sides and Sammy Swindell also transferring.
|World of Outlaws Sprint Cars – Heat Race 2|
Heat 2 provided a very high level of excitement and the night’s only red flag. “The Brownsburg Bullet” Joey Saldana fired-off from the pole and never looked back. However, all of the action happened behind him. Brady Bacon brought out the caution a couple of laps in, as he spun by himself in the middle of turns 3 and 4. Mayhem ensued on the following restart, as Dusty “Zoom Zoom” Zomer climbed the left-rear tire on Josh Baughman’s car, entering turn 1, sending him on a a wild end-over-end ride!
|What remained, after Dusty Zomer & Josh Baughman made contact, entering turn 1|
|Thankfully, both drivers were okay & their cars were taken-off on The Hook|
Thankfully, both drivers were okay. Unfortunately, the damage was too much to overcome for Zomer’s team, marking the end of their night. Baughman was unable to finish the Heat Race, but would return to compete in the night’s Last Chance Showdown. Shane Stewart finished 2nd in Heat Race 2, behind Saldana, with Jason Johnson, Logan Schuchart, Jacob Allen and Terry McCarl transferring as well.
|World of Outlaws Sprint Cars – Heat Race 3
There were only 8 cars scheduled for Heat Race 3, which saw “The Dude” Danny Lasoski dominate, winning by over 2 and a half seconds! Daryn Pittman finished 2nd with Kerry Madsen, Bryan Clauson, Greg Wilson and Kraig Kinser also transferring.
|World of Outlaws Sprint Cars – Dash|
In true World of Outlaws fashion, a very lucky young fan was asked to draw the starting order for the Dash. Much to David Gravel’s delight, the young fan drew a “0”, meaning he would start on the pole. Gravel made good use of that starting spot, as he fired-off and lead all 6 laps, for the win! Gravel held-off a hard charging Joey Saldana, who finished 2nd, followed by Shane Stewart, Daryn Pittman, Danny Lasoski and Brad Sweet. The order they finished the Dash will set the top-6 starting spots for the main event!
|World of Outlaws Sprint Cars – Last Chance Showdown|
Only 7 cars were able to make the call for the Last Chance Showdown, with Dusty Zomer’s team already loaded and getting an early start on the road. Trey Starks started on pole and never looked-back, leading all 12 laps for the win! Paul McMahan finished 2nd, followed by Logan Forler, Austen Wheatley, Brady Bacon and Josh Baughman, who all transferred to the main event!
Track conditions had progressed nicely throughout the night, as a distinct groove had developed and started taking rubber. As the picture illustrates, the track was very dry on the bottom, with a rubber-groove starting to develop in the middle. A cushion developed above the rubber, about two-thirds up the track, with still plenty of moisture above it, up near the guard rail.
|One of the best sights in all of racing, the World of Outlaws 4-wide salute!|
There are not many guarantees in racing. One I can assure you, is that you will get chills when you see the best Winged Sprint Car drivers in the world assemble into their trademark 4-wide salute to the fans! Accompanying the chills you are experiencing, Johnny Gibson comes over the speaker: “Arizona Speedway, you wanted the best, you got ’em 4-abreast! Often imitated, never duplicated, The Greatest Show On Dirt, the World of Outlaws!” At that exact moment, you hear engines revving, as the drivers know the start of the race is only moments away.
“The Brownsburg Bullet” Joey Saldana fired-off from the outside pole and took the early lead over David Gravel. It seemed the outside line was preferred, as it was a race to the high-side. Daryn Pittman brought-out the race’s only caution around lap 10, as I believe he clipped a tractor tire on the exit of turn 2, while trying to run the bottom line. Pittman’s crew made quick repair of the damage, allowing him to return and tag the field, prior to the restart.
On the ensuing restart, it didn’t take long for Shane Stewart to slip past Saldana, taking the lead around the halfway mark of the race. One of only a few drivers able to successfully make the bottom-line work, Stewart snuck-past Saldana on the exit of turn 2. Stewart stretched his lead and never looked-back, only having to deal with lapped track for the final 15 laps! Some of the best racing I’ve ever seen happened behind him, for 2nd place, as Saldana began to fade. David Gravel, Donny Schatz, Danny Lasoski and Brad Sweet all slipped by Saldana during the second-half of the race. Gravel, Schatz and Lasoski traded slide-jobs nearly every turn, while battling for 2nd place! However, it was clear that the night belonged to Shane Stewart, as he officially won by 2.259 seconds on the completion of the final lap!
|Shane Stewart won the World of Outlaws’ inaugural visit to Arizona Speedway on Sunday, March 6th!|
|David Gravel held-off several challenges to finish in the runner-up spot!|
|Danny Lasoski enjoyed a solid run with the World of Outlaws, finishing 3rd!|
Listed below are the full main event results, with each driver’s starting position in parenthesis:
1. Shane Stewart (3) 2. David Gravel (1) 3. Danny Lasoski (5) 4. Donny Schatz (7) 5. Brad Sweet (6) 6. Joey Saldana (2) 7. Jason Johnson (8) 8. Kerry Madsen (9) 9. Logan Schuchart (11) 10. Brian Brown (10) 11. Jason Sides (13) 12. Sammy Swindell (16) 13. Bryan Clauson (12) 14. Austen Wheatley (22) 15. Josh Baughman (24) *Hard Charger* 16. Paul McMahan (20) 17. Terry McCarl (17) 18. Daryn Pittman (4) 19. Greg Wilson (15) 20. Trey Starks (19) 21. Jacob Allen (14) 22. Logan Forler (21) 23. Kraig Kinser (18) 24. Brady Bacon (23)
|Final track conditions, following the World of Outlaws main event|