World of Outlaws Race Recap – USA Raceway
It was a beautiful sunny, 80-degree day in Tucson, Arizona on Monday, April 18th. That’s right, I said Monday. Sure, Monday Night Football is popular, how about Monday Night Racing? The track was soaked and appeared to have been worked for at least 1 hour, when I arrived to USA Raceway around 3:30pm, local time.
|USA Raceway is a large 3/8th’s mile clay oval with wide, sweeping turns|
Track conditions were the talk of the pits, for multiple reasons. For one, last year’s World of Outlaws event at USA Raceway was a rubber-down bottom feeder. The track had taken so much rubber in hot laps that the quick-line in Qualifying was very high, with a few drivers bouncing their right rear tires off the wall. Secondly, USA Raceway is currently experiencing ownership issues, so there has not been a weekly program. The last race at this track was the Wild West Shootout, 3 months ago. The track crew stayed vigilant in working the track consistently, while watering often. They also used the water truck and push trucks to pack the high-side of the track, while the racing groove was the middle-to-low line.
|Mud packing & engine heat session. Unfortunately, the crowd was not much bigger than this on Monday|
Monday night proved to be a difficult “sell” for the Greatest Show on Dirt, as the fans simply did not pack the stands. As most everyone knows, racing is generally a family sport. Tough to bring the wife and kids out to the races on a Monday night. Also, Monday and Tuesday are both normal working days, so that may have had a hand in the smaller-than-normal crowd. Even given their small size, the crowd was lively and voiced their pleasure throughout the evening.
|The Desert Dwarf Car Club (DDCC) accompanied the Outlaws in Tucson, on Monday night|
Accompanying the Outlaws in Tucson on Monday night, were the Desert Dwarf Car Club (DDCC). They had a very healthy car count for a Monday night, with 16 cars making the call. 34 cars total raced that night, as 18 World of Outlaws showed-up for battle. I believe that was the biggest factor in not having a more desirable racing surface, lack of laps on the track. With all of the water poured on the racing surface and only 2 divisions in action, the track just didn’t have a chance to dry or widen-out.
|The Track held moisture all night and never really had a chance to dry or widen-out|
|The sun began to set in the background, as hot laps finished & Qualifying began|
The Track retained moisture and proved the bottom-line was the place to be, in Qualifying. Running flat-out and wide-open around the large 3/8th’s mile track, you could literally hear the time ticking off the clock, if a driver had to let-off the throttle. Daryn Pittman went QUICK TIME running a blistering 13.061 second lap, averaging over 113mph on the 3/8th’s mile clay oval.
|Heat 1 goes green with QUICK TIME Daryn Pittman on the pole!|
Daryn Pittman proved what we all already knew, the track was very quick and narrow. Passing was at a premium, as Pittman launched from the pole position in Heat 1 and never looked back, easily cruising to the victory. “The Brownsburg Bullet” Joey Saldana finished 2nd, followed by Shane Stewart, Donny Schatz and Jacob Allen rounded-out the top-5 in Heat 1.
|Heat 2 goes green, check out the start by “The Ragin’ Cajun” Jason Johnson!|
Heat 2 proved that “The Ragin’ Cajun” Jason Johnson is a veteran of Sprint Car racing. Firing-off from the outside pole, he grabbed the lead over David Gravel entering turn 1 and never looked back, easily winning the 2nd Heat race. Gravel settled for 2nd, with “The Big Cat” Brad sweet, “Pauls to the Wall” Paul McMahan and “T-MAC” Terry McCarl rounding-out the top-5.
|A “0” pill-draw put Daryn Pittman on pole for the Dash & foreshadowed what the evening had in-store|
Daryn Pittman really enjoyed starting on pole for the World of Outlaws Dash. Just like his Heat race, he fired-off from the inside front row and never looked back, cruising to the Dash win. Passing continued to be at a premium, as the track was still moist and remained hammer-down. Joey Saldana finished 2nd in the Dash, followed by Jason Johnson, Shane Stewart, Donny Schatz, Paul McMahan, Brad Sweet and David Gravel. This finishing order was how they would line-up for the Main Event!
|USA Raceway, you wanted the best, you got ’em 4-abreast!|
The electricity can always be “felt” in the air, when you attend a World of Outlaws race. However, in my opinion, that electricity reaches an all-time high when you see the World’s best Sprint Car drivers make that famous 4-wide salute to the fans. Coupled with the sensory overload, Johnny Gibson gets on the microphone and makes his famous call: “USA Raceway, you wanted the best, you got ’em 4-abreast! Often imitated, never duplicated, the Greatest Show on Dirt…it’s the World of Outlaws”!
Daryn Pittman proved that he was unbeatable, when starting on the pole. He fired-off and enjoyed a half-straightaway lead, at times. “The Brownsburg Bullet” Joey Saldana flexed his veteran muscle, keeping pace with Pittman and getting within 1-2 car lengths, at times. “The Big Cat” Brad Sweet and Donny Schatz were on the move! Both drivers showed that if you had a better car and the “guts” to challenge the next driver, you could force your way through on the bottom. It was just past the halfway mark of the race that Shane Stewart, 3rd place at the time, had difficulty lapping Jacob Allen. Stewart pushed very high, well above the groove, which had only worked its up to the middle of the track. Stewart did a masterful job of keeping his car off of the wall on entrance of turn 1, but he quickly lost positions to Schatz and Sweet. Schatz worked the bottom line just like you’d expect from a 7-time Champion and he slipped by Saldana with about 5 laps to go, in the 30-lap Main Event. Schatz seemed to be closing on Pittman in the final laps, but no one had anything for DP, as he picked up his 3rd World of Outlaws main event win of the season and his second in-a-row, after winning at Perris in Southern California on Saturday night!
|Daryn Pittman truly was “the man” on Monday Night, going undefeated on Monday Night. He went Quick Time, won Heat 1, the WoO Dash & Main Event!|
|7-Time WoO Champion, Donny Schatz made a solid charge from 5th to finish 2nd!|
|After stalking Pittman the whole Main Event, “The Brownsburg Bullet” Joey Saldana, settled for 3rd place!|
|The Track never dried or widened-out, making it a hammer-down speed fest. Still the Greatest Show on Dirt!|
(Starting positions listed in parenthesis)
1. Daryn Pittman (1), 2. Donny Schatz (5), 3. Joey Saldana (2), 4. Brad Sweet (7), 5. Shane Stewart (4), 6. Jason Johnson (3), 7. David Gravel (8), 8. Paul McMahan (6), 9. Terry McCarl (12), 10. Dusty Zomer (11), 11. Dominic Scelzi (10), 12. Jason Sides (14), 13. Logan Schuchart (18), 14. Greg Wilson (13), 15. Jacob Allen (9), 16. James Mosher (16), 17. Randy Waitman (15), 18. Lance Norick (17)
We’re still early in the World of Outlaws racing season, but one thing is apparent: Kasey Kahne Racing is for real! Brad Sweet and Daryn Pittman have now accounted for 8 wins through the first 17 races, almost half! Still too early to “count-out” Donny Schatz and Shane Stewart has remained competitive. Who do you think will prevail in the 2016 World of Outlaws Sprint Car season? Stay tuned!
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