Straight forward heats lead to truly spectacular main event
When forecasting special occasions it would be rare to place any special significance on the twenty-seventh of anything. Twenty-one, twenty-five okay. Fifty for sure, but twenty seven? That’s just one to survive on the way to some more important milestone. Twenty seven is every day, it’s normal. Steve Kinser standing on stage with a crown on his head being checkered as the victor is at this point normal as well. Saturday night’s victory was in fact his seventh Kings Royal triumph so in that sense it was both normal and predictable for him to arrive in victory lane at Eldora Speedway’s Crown Jewel Sprint Car event. The chain of events that transpired prior to his rolling off the scales and into victory circle was anything but predictable.
Heat races went off one after one with minimal passing for position as Stevie Smith, Daryn Pttman, Kerry Madsen, Sam Hafertepe Jr., Danny Lasoski and Steve Kinser took victories. The only major incident occurred in heat #6 when Tyler Walker jumped the cushion between turns one and two, collected the wall and was narrowly missed by several other oncoming cars. The track was holding moisture well and the groove slowly but surely was approaching the wall with the passing of each preliminary event. Many fans were uneasy in their seats over the lack of the usual barn burning action of King Royals past but time would tell and the track was about to produce more than its fair share of “edge of the seat action” that eventually drew most fans to their feet.
Tyler Walker’s crew made the needed repairs to the #17 machine to allow him to blast through both the C-Main and the B-Main to join the field for the 2010 version of Kings Royal where he would come home thirteenth. The lack of bent metal during prelims was in no way indicative of what was to come in terms of carnage during the main event paying $50,000 to the winner. Using a format which varies from customary procedures for lining up the feature for the Kings Royal made this event an “equal points” contest for any World of Outlaws competitor who made the haul to Rossburg Ohio’s famed palace of dirt, concrete and wood. The prestige of being declared “King XXVII” was all that was at stake as twenty four of the finest winged sprint car drivers strapped in for forty all out laps around the recently watered and manicured clay surface. Tony Stewart’s pride and joy would shine in a race that will go down as one of the best in the storied half mile track’s illustrious history.
The green flag flew and Steve Kinser jumped from his pole position to the lead but the man on the move from the jump was ninth starting Donny Schatz who was in fact the only one who wanted to see if the low line had been brought to life by a few rounds of watering. The answer was yes as he picked off one car after another as he’d made his way up to fourth while Kinser began lapping the back of the field. “The Knight Before the Kings Royal” winner Joey Saldana was looking good until he wiped nearly twelve feet of dirt from the turn three wall with his right rear tire, tagging the concrete and somersaulting down the banking to bring out the first red flag of the event. He was fine but the destroyed red number nine machine would serve as one part of a rough night for Kasey Kahne racing as a whole. World of Outlaws officials would make this an “open red flag period” where teams would be allocated two minutes to refuel and work on the cars. They would not be permited to change tires but many crews took the opportunity to fine tune wing placement and make other setup changes to machines.
The field roared back to life at the drop of the green flag, the restart continued what would be a pattern of inconsistent restarts by the leader of the pack. Throughout the night fans were reminded of the relatively new double file restart rule instituted by the World of Outlaws where the leader of the race was in charge of when to smash the gas and initiate the all out assault on the lead. The interpretation of the rule confounded fans in that sometimes the leader would fire out of turn four, other times it would be more like the center of three and four and even more confusing was when the leader took off near the track’s exit to the back pits. Kinser used the new rule to his full advantage over the less experienced Kerry Madsen who lined up next to him on many restarts. On this particular occasion the pack would only be at full speed for five laps before they would be slowed by Jac Haudenschild flipping down the back chute and being drilled by Dale Blaney. Both were done for the evening but walked away under their own power. Fans loved the battle for the lead between Madsen and Kinser as they diced back and forth numerous times before heeding the race’s second red flag.
This time the field would line up for the double file restart sporting a number of drivers having made a great deal of progress in just sixteen laps. Jason Sides had rocketed from his fifteenth starting place to reside in fourth, multi-time All Star Circuit of Sprints champ Chad Kemenah fought his way from 23rd to sixth and Jason Meyers moved from 17th to ninth. Tyler Walke was also one of the bigger movers up to this point as he advanced six spots up to eleventh but he gave that up in order to pull into the work area for service from his crew.
The drop of the green brought another heated battle between Kinser and Madsen with the younger pilot coming out ahead on this occasion. He began to build a lead which he seemed perfectly willing and able to extend to his heart’s content. Lap after lap clicked off the once luxurious total of forty as he put more and more real estate between himself and the twenty time World of Outlaws champion in the eleven machine. Madsen would lead twenty seven circuits on the night…remember that number? The number would now become much more significant in that if it would have been just a few more, the outcome of the race may very well be different. The laps wound down and Kinser began to reel in the leader who encountered thick traffic during the longest continuous green flag run in the race. Madsen’s right rear tire began to show the slightest haze of white smoke in turn two for a few laps and it seemed as if the veteran Kinser was biding his time as he got closer and closer to the one car between him and a seventh Kings Royal victory. Within two laps of biding his time he began to turn up the wick and a sense of urgency took over. He then began biting off big chunks of the lead and he banked off the front stretch wall, the back stretch wall and was deep in the fluff up in turn four when Madsen “zigged” while Kinser “zagged” around the spinning car of Jaon Meyers.
Fortunate to avoid catastrophe on several occasions, Kinser knew that he’d have to beat Madsen off the jump on the restart because laps were few in number and he wouldn’t have time to chew up another big lead also allowing time for passing the #3 which had been leading since lap twelve of the contest. Madsen was great on the restarts as he leaped out to an advantage, riding the rim around one and two. He blasted down the back chute and continued to battle with Kinser as laps ticked off the scoreboard. Kasey Kahne racing formed the bookend stoppages in green flag action as Kahne himself flipped in turn three to set up three lap shootout for the win. Upon the drop of the green Kinser knew that Madsen was great on restarts and he’d have to time his jump perfectly to make a run on him going into one and two. He didn’t account for the charging Danny Lasoski who took his #6 machine to the bottom of the track to make one desperate attempt to fly by Madsen and Kinser while they had their minds on each other. He lost momentum and as Kinser made the most of his perfectly timed jump off the green. Kinser and Madsen got together entering the corner. Kinser slid up in front of the slightly off kilter Madsen and held the lead long enough to pass under the checkers before a roaring crowd of mixed reviews. The boisterous throng literally drowned out Steve Kinser’s victory interview and coronation ceremony. One thing was for sure, every fan that stuck around for the duration of the event saw one high quality dirt track auto race. The cameras of Speed Channel were on hand to capture the race and it’s set to air on August 27th. Check out more on all the upcoming events on the World of Outlaws schedule and at Eldora Speedway. Speed Channel features a wide variety of motor sports events in the upcoming months. Let’s support everyone who supports the best sport on the planet.