DENISON, Iowa — Kerry Madsen was the car to beat throughout Friday night’s World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series feature at Crawford County Speedway but it was Shane Stewart who battled past the leader with two laps to go and claimed the inaugural Outlaws win at the track.
Stewart started the night in fourth and battled third place running Joey Saldana much of the night. Disaster almost struck on the first lap as the two made contact going into turn three, but Stewart recovered. Stewart tried to get around ‘The Brownsburg Bullet’ on lap 10, drag racing the No. 71M car down the front stretch, but Saldana held him off. A short time later, Stewart took advantage of lapped traffic and got around Saldana for third.
As the leader, Madsen, battled through traffic, three-time series champion Sammy Swindell, who was running second, tried to run him down. The battled stayed close until lap 21 when Swindell fell off. First Stewart got around him and then Saldana. Eventually a hard charging Donny Schatz worked his way around to take over fourth.
As the field came around to complete lap 28, Stewart slid Madsen with his Larson Marks Racing No. 2 as the two drivers dove into turn three and took over the lead. Stewart, who sits second in the championship standings, cruised to his fourth series win of the season.
“I knew I had to be a little bit patient. Coming off of turn four my car was really, really good. I just had to be patient and not hit those tires (at the bottom of the track),” Stewart said. “I felt like my whole key was getting off the exit of four. I knew Kerry was kind of getting held up by lapped traffic. When the track is this fast the lapped cars are as fast as we are. Everything just worked out for us.”
Madsen, who sits third in the points standings and is the only driver in the top seven in points without a win, said it wasn’t the finish his No. 29 American Racing Custom Wheels team wanted but it was still a good run.
“Look, I always knew it was going to come down to traffic, and with where I was, I felt like I was doing a good job with it,” Madsen said. “I was getting by and then I bogged down two or three times with the same car and lost my momentum. I maybe should have gotten up and just ripped it and I would have been fine.”
The closing laps for Saldana featured one of the tightest battles of the night. After getting around Swindell to retake third place on lap 22, Saldana had a new challenge to face – reigning series champion Schatz. Schatz started in 10th and steadily worked his way forward as the night went. When he and Saldana took the white flag, Schatz tried to make his move for third.
As the two drivers entered turn three, with a lap car on the high side, Saldana dove low as Schatz tried to use the outside lane. The lapped car killed Schatz’s momentum and he ended up making contact on the front stretch short of the checkered flag.
“I wasn’t going to go to the top down there – I knew a lapped car was there so I checked up. The lapped cars were pushing up off the corners, I figured (someone was going to run into him) but I thought it would have been me,” Saldana said. “I did what Schatz did earlier in the race and Shane got a run on me, so don’t mess up again. I didn’t do it and then Schatz ran into the back of the lapped car. Obviously, I did one thing right tonight.”
Earlier in the night Saldana took home the quick time with his No. 71M Motter Equipment car and set a new track record with a fast qualifying lap of 12.838. Saldana’s quick time, his fifth of the season, came on the first use of the Outlaws new two-flight qualifying format. He is now the leading qualifier on the season.
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series returns to action tomorrow night at the historic Knoxville Raceway for the Mediacom Shootout. For more information on the event and to learn how to purchase tickets, visit http://woosprint.com/mediacom-shootout.
-World of Outlaws Press Release. Photo credit: Davey Johnson