World of Outlaws Sprint Series invades Thunderbowl Raceway with double header on February 23 & 24
By Gary Thomas
February 16, 2007... The best sprint car drivers on the planet are set to invade the Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway on February 23 & 24 as the World of Outlaws Sprint Series make their first visit to the Thunderbowl in over a year.
The World of Outlaws Sprint Series competed at the Tulare Thunderbowl for the first time in September of 2003 and including that night have run in a total of six races at the quick 1/3 mile clay oval. Although they have only made a handful of trips to the Thunderbowl Raceway, those few night’s have been legendary events and February 23 & 24 should be no exception.
The return of the World of Outlaws Sprint Series to Thunderbowl Raceway will also see the return of the Parker Store Racing No. 15 of defending World of Outlaws champion, and current point leader Donny Schatz. The Fargo, North Dakota driver has had much success at the Thunderbowl in the past and his 2005 stats at the track were impressive. In the three World of Outlaws Sprint Series races held in ‘05 at the Thunderbowl, Schatz set fast time twice and finished on the podium in all three of the main events. Included in those numbers was a victory during opening night of the October double header where he diced it up on a super slick surface with legend Sammy Swindell in the closing laps of the feature, and won by less than a car length.
Schatz, the 1997 World of Outlaws Sprint Series Rookie of the Year, captured the $140,000 to win Knoxville Nationals last season after finishing second in the event on four separate occasions this decade. The 29 year old driver will be just one of the expected 40 plus drivers looking to write their names in the Thunderbowl Raceway record books.
Twenty-time World of Outlaws Sprint Series champion Steve Kinser of Bloomington, Indiana will be another favorite. The driver of the Q Oil’s No. 11 won the World of Outlaws Sprint Series very first visit to the Thunderbowl Raceway in 2003. In addition to that win, "The King" also swept the National Sprint Tour double header last February at the track, and was leading the NST event in October before engine failure forced him out of the race. Kinser was also leading the World of Outlaws Sprint Series main event at the Thunderbowl on October 20, 2004 until his right rear tire exploded coming down the front stretch on a restart with less than five laps left. His illustrious career shows over 500 A-main event victories including 12 wins in the Knoxville Nationals, 12 in the Gold Cup Race of Champions, 10 at the Eagle Nationals and 6 wins in the Kings Royal. Last season he finished second in NST points with five main event wins. Kinser however, is off to a slow start this season and is coming off of a nasty crash in the last World of Outlaws event on February 11. He currently sits 13th in points coming into Tulare and a good showing will be crucial for him to get back into the title fight.
Another likely entrant with heavy Thunderbowl Raceway credentials is California fan favorite "TK" Tim Kaeding. The San Jose native had the best season of his career in 2006 winning 15 National Sprint Tour main events and finishing third in the final NST point standings. Kaeding, a multiple time winner in his career with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series, is always one of the drivers to beat at the Thunderbowl when he signs in at the back gate. During the NST finale in October he set quick time, but took a tumble in his heat race that forced him to run the B-main, which he won going away. He then charged all the way from 13th starting to pick up the 40 lap main event win in dominating fashion.
Kaeding also utilized a drive from 16th to 2nd in the Trophy Cup Saturday night main event in November, which gave him high points for the weekend and earned him his second career Trophy Cup title worth a sweet $15,000. Known as one of the hardest charging and fearless drivers in the country, Kaeding has even won a main event at the Thunderbowl from the 16th starting position, which happened in November of 2002. "TK" is one of the most accomplished sprint car drivers in Northern California history and was the 2002 Golden State Challenge Series champion and has also won two track championships at the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico. Other big wins in California for the 28 year old include the World of Outlaws season opener in 2002 at Kings Speedway, the Mini Gold Cup, the Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial, the Cotton Classic, the Pacific Sprint Fall Nationals and the Pombo/Sargent Classic. He also sits in a tie with Steve Kent for second place on the all-time Golden State Challenge Series win list with 28 victories under his belt.
Clovis, CA’s Jason Meyers is back with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series in 2007, once again driving for locally based Guy Stockbridge and Elite Racing. Thunderbowl Raceway has always been good to Meyers as he ranks second on the all time 410 win list at the track with five victories. Last season in the three NST races at the Thunderbowl, he had finishes of third, second and fifth. In April he made a special guest appearance at the Thunderbowl during a Golden State Challenge race and won the main event. The driver commonly referred to as "Hotfoot" also had a strong run at the season ending Trophy Cup. In Saturday night’s 40 lap feature Meyers started 22nd and drove through the field to finish fourth, losing the Trophy Cup championship to Kaeding by just a few points.
During his most recent full season with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series in 2005, Meyers finished a strong second in the season long point standings. In the past Meyers has had big wins in the Mini Gold Cup, the Tribute to Gary Patterson, the Cotton Classic and has also captured 13 career World of Outlaws Sprint Series victories.
Defending National Sprint Tour champion Danny Lasoski of Dover, Missouri is back behind the wheel of the locally based Roth Motorsports machine and will be gunning for the World of Outlaws Sprint Series title this season. The 2001 World of Outlaws champion returned to the Roth Motorsports team last year after spending five seasons with Tony Stewart Motorsports and won 10 races en route to the NST championship. "The Dude" also captured a handful of wins with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series in limited appearances.
Other than a win in a Northern Auto Racing Club sanctioned event in 2001, Lasoski hasn’t had all that much success at the Thunderbowl. In his career however, Lasoski has won four Knoxville Nationals titles and is the all-time winningest driver at the Knoxvllle Raceway in Iowa. Lasoski comes into Tulare sitting second in the WOO point standings, 12 behind Schatz for the lead.
Other top World of Outlaws Sprint Series drivers expected to compete over the two days of action include: Brownsburg, IN’s Joey Saldana; Elk River, MN’s Craig Dollansky; Wooster, Ohio’s Jac Haudenschild; Nashville, TN’s Paul McMahan; Owasso, OK’s Daryn Pittman; Mount Vernon, WA’s Jason Solwold; San Souci NSW, Aust’s Brooke Tatnell; Findlay Ohio’s Chad Kemenah; Aliquippa, PA’s Tim Shaffer; Altoona, Iowa’s Terry McCarl; Memphis, TN’s Jason Sides and San Jose, CA’s Randy Hannagan.
WOO drivers making either their first or second visit to the Thunderbowl include: Sioux Falls, S.D.’s Justin Henderson; Monroe, MI’s Jeremy Campbell; Houston, DE’s Becca Anderson; Albuquerque, NM’s Dion Hindi; Liberal, KN’s Jason Martin; Plainfield, IN’s Bill Rose and Linden, IN’s Brian Carlson.
The contenders for this year’s Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year award with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series include: St. Mary’s, NSW, Aust’s Kerry Madsen; Burlington, WA’s Chad Hillier; Liberal, KN’s Tony Bruce Jr; Sunnyvale, TX’s Sam Hafertepe Jr. and Albuquerque, NM’s James Mosher. Of the five drivers, Hafertepe and Mosher are the only ones who have never competed at the Thunderbowl.
The California contingent looking to knock off the travelers will be led by defending Thunderbowl Raceway track champion Ronnie Day of Salinas and defending Golden State Challenge King of California Series champion Jonathan Allard of Chico. Other possible locals looking to steal the glory will include: Rocklin’s Robert Ballou, Grass Valley’s Brad Sweet, Clovis’s Peter Murphy, Campbell’s Brent Kaeding, Tipton’s Mike and Danny Faria Jr, Caruthers’ Garrett Ishii, and Fresno’s Tommy Tarlton & Craig Stidham.
Fairmont, Indiana’s Brandon Wimmer will be making his maiden voyage aboard the ARB Inc./Redi-Green Motorsports 1k during the weekend. Wimmer is set to run in California this season and will be contesting the full Golden State Challenge King of California Series schedule. The GSC sprint cars will make four individual stops at the Thunderbowl this season including such big races as the Pombo/Sargent Classic on April 28 and the Chris Faria Memorial on May 19.
The World of Outlaws Sprint Series event at the Thunderbowl will be the fourth and fifth races of the season for the world’s premier sprint car series. They kicked off their 2007 campaign on February 9, 10 and 11 at the Volusia Speedway Park in Florida. Winners during the weekend included Donny Schatz, Kerry Madsen and Daryn Pittman.
Several rule changes have also been implemented by the World of Outlaws Sprint Series this year. One of the new rules that is sure to please fans is the fact that most two-day events will now be considered a pair of single-day events. This means that no cars will be locked into the feature from opening night and you will get to see your favorite stars run complete programs each night. Full points will be awarded both nights as well, whereas in the past the first night of a two-day event was considered a prelim and less points were handed out, with less of a drop in points, per position. With the new rule put in place, it puts more premium on performing well each and every night.
Other rule changes include new heat race and dash procedures, new single file line-up procedures and new work area rules. All of these are designed to improve the entertainment and excitement level at all World of Outlaws Sprint Series races. For more info on the World of Outlaws Sprint Series visit http://www.worldofoutlaws.com
The front gate next weekend will open at 5 pm each night. Ticket prices for Friday evening are $30 for bleachers and $35 for grandstands. Saturday’s prices will be $35 for bleachers and $40 for grandstands. Pit passes will be $45 each night.
For a seating chart, list of hotels, directions and more, log onto http://www.thunderbowlraceway.com
To order tickets and for any additional information call 559-688-0909