BARBERVILLE, Fla. – Feb. 14, 2012 – With scattered, white clouds and a persistent breeze all afternoon, the World of Outlaws ushered in the 2012 season on Tuesday.
Although it was officially only a practice, the sessions kicked off the 41st annual UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment, which runs through Feb. 25 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. The first sprint car feature begins tomorrow – Feb. 15 – with two days of UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions competition before the World of Outlaws hit the track Feb. 17-18-19 to decide the event’s sprint car champion.
A total of 20 sprint car drivers were split into three segments of three hot-lap sessions. Sammy Swindell posted the quickest lap overall in the first session at 13.216 seconds. That mark was good enough for an average lap of 136.199 miles per hour.
NASCAR star Tony Stewart had the second-best lap with a time of 13.270 seconds (135.644 miles per hour) in the fourth overall session. Stewart was the quickest in two of his three times on the track as was Steve Kinser, whose car is owned by Stewart.
Daryn Pittman was also fastest in two of his three sessions, while Dale Blaney and Joey Saldana were each quickest in a session.
“I figured we better come out here tonight and make sure we have everything okay,” Saldana said. “That last run there we actually had a really good time. The car was rolling pretty good, so I’m looking forward to coming tomorrow and hopefully having a good week at Volusia.”
With the sprint car competition beginning tomorrow, the usual dozen Outlaws will likely compete all week. Additionally, there are a host of other sprint car stars who will challenge for the top prize. Among those is former World of Outlaws champion Danny Lasoski, who claimed the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit victory in the 2008 finale at Volusia Speedway Park.
“You know when you go to Florida … you see how you stack up,” said Lasoski, who ranks sixth in World of Outlaws feature wins. “Everybody’s got brand new stuff. The air is usually sea level or better so the engines are hitting hard. It’s the ingredients for a great show.”
Pittman is another former winner as he was victorious in the 2007 UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit finale. Pittman, who sits tied for 14 th on the Outlaws victory list with 30 feature wins, competed on the tour for nearly a decade and often began his season at this event.
“The competition level is so good,” he said. “The best cars are here.”
In addition to the World of Outlaws drivers, here are a handful of other notable drivers who are slated to compete in this week’s UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit:
· Tony Stewart – The three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion picked up his first career World of Outlaws feature last season. He also owns the cars of World of Outlaws regulars Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz.
· Dave Blaney – The NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and 1995 World of Outlaws champion ranks eighth in career Outlaw victories with 70. He will be filling in for Brooke Tatnell, who is still competing in Australia.
· Sammy Swindell – A three-time World of Outlaws champion who ranks second in career wins with the Outlaws. He was victorious four times with the World of Outlaws last season, when he finished 12th in the points despite missing several races.
· Fred Rahmer – The defending PA Speedweek and Keystone Cup champion is one of the most accomplished sprint car drivers. He has racked up more than 500 victories and 50-plus series and track championships during his storied career.
· Brad Sweet – A former Short Track Nationals and Trophy Cup champion, Sweet is racing sprint cars part-time this year along with competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He is the third car under the Kasey Kahne Racing banner.
· Tim Shaffer – The three-time defending UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions points champion won two World of Outlaws features last season to move to 19th overall with 15 Outlaws victories. The 1999 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year also claimed the prestigious 50th annual Knoxville Nationals in 2010 and has won 47 features the past three seasons.
· Greg Hodnett – A three-time defending champion of the Central PA Sprint Series, Hodnett was the 1993 World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year. His 12 Outlaws feature victories ties him for 21st on the career list.
· Sam Hafertepe Jr. – After picking up his first career World of Outlaws victory last season, Hafertepe Jr. is driving for famed Zemco Racing this season. He spent several seasons racing full-time with the World of Outlaws.
· Dale Blaney – The 1998 World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year has six career Outlaws wins, including last year’s Don Martin Silver Cup. He has also claimed numerous series and track championships since his sprint car career began in 1990.
· Terry McCarl – After spending many seasons on the World of Outlaws tour, he is tied for 24 th on the victory chart with nine. He is also a numerous Knoxville Raceway track champion and winner.
· Jason Sides – The 2003 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year with the World of Outlaws also won the finale at Volusia Speedway Park last year. He ranks 21st on the career victory list with 12 World of Outlaws feature wins, including four last season.
· David Gravel – He has finished in the top five in the UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions points the past three years and picked up his first career World of Outlaws victory last season.
· Jac Haudenschild – A veteran of the World of Outlaws, he has picked off numerous top 10s in the series standings. He is also tied for 10th in career wins on the World of Outlaws list at 56.
· Paul McMahan – Driving for Bryan Grove Motorsports this year, McMahan is a former World of Outlaws full-timer. He finished fourth in the points last season and won four features to advance to a tie for 21st in career Outlaws victories with 12.
Tickets can be ordered online by clicking WorldofOutlaws.com/tickets or by calling 877-395-8606.
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: Armor All (Official Car Care Products), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Goodyear Tires (Official Tire), UNOH , VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel), Vicci (Official Apparel) in addition to contingency sponsors Comp Cams, JE Pistons, Superflow, Wix Filters, Penske Shocks, Intercomp, MSD Ignition, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, KSE Race Products, Racing Electronics and S&S Volvo. Engine Builders Challenge participants include Kistler Engines, Shaver Specialties and Speedway Engines. Chassis Builders Challenge participants J&J Auto Racing, Maxim Racing and XXX Race Company.