The way Tim Kaeding celebrated, it was as if he hit the jackpot.
In a way, he did. The Californian outlasted a furious battle with Jason Sides and an onslaught of cautions to claim the $10,000 World of Outlaws victory at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on a windy Thursday night.
It was his seventh career World of Outlaws feature win and his first since April 24, 2009, at Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, Ark. And Kaeding celebrated in style.
With fists pumping and several shouts, Kaeding drew a loud cheer from the packed crowd when he hopped out of his car on the fronstretch, hugged almost anyone in sight and climbed on the back of the high-powered race car with his arms held high.
“We weren’t even expecting to come here,” the reigning King of California said. “About a week and a half ago we made the decision to come.
“It’s a hard-fought battle when you can start up front and stay up front with the Outlaws. They’re definitely fast on the half miles. Tonight we just got lucky. We just went out, had a lot of fun and enjoyed ourselves.”
Kaeding qualified sixth quickest and finished second in his heat race to earn a spot in the dash. The invert for the dash was “six”, giving Kaeding the pole. He led all six laps to earn the pole for the feature, which he then commanded for all but two of the 30 laps.
However, it was anything but easy. Kaeding survived nine cautions, including one on the opening lap when Brian Brown jumped the start from his 21 st starting position. He was penalized a row on the restart.
Kaeding and the rest of the field were slowed on the third lap for a caution by Sammy Swindell, who sustained a flat left front tire. Swindell restarted last – 24th.
Chad Kemenah, who opened the night as the fastest qualifier with a lap of 15.093 seconds, took the lead for the seventh and eighth laps before Kaeding regained the top position in lapped traffic entering turn three on the ninth circuit.
Jason Meyers brought out a caution on lap 10 as he came to a spinning stop because of front end damage. He then stopped on lap 23 with a similar issue and NASCAR star Tony Stewart was forced pitside because of a flat right rear tire.
Kerry Madsen’s flip in turn one on the restart prompted a red flag. Two laps later, Terry McCarl spun in turn two for the fifth stoppage and Lucas Wolfe ran out of fuel on lap 26 while running fourth. Second-running Kraig Kinser had a flat right rear tire, but elected not to pit and therefore be forced to the back. However, he brought out a caution with two laps remaining because of the flat tire.
Sides, who maintained a close second for most of the second half of the race, dove under Kaeding for the lead entering turn one on the restart. However, Sides slide up the track and Kaeding drove underneath as the duo exited turn two.
“We had a right front tire going low there,” Sides said. “The last couple of laps I’d get in there and get on the right front. The one time I got by Tim, I got in there and he got back underneath me. It took a little push and I think that allowed him to get back underneath us.
“Our car was good. I don’t know that we could have done much better setup-wise or anything like that. We needed longer green-flag runs. It seemed like we were better on longer runs rather than those little short runs.”
Kaeding regained the lead and the final caution came as he received the white flag when Cody Darrah spun out in turn four.
Kaeding again pulled to a good advantage on the restart and held on for the victory with Sides a close runner-up. Steve Kinser, who started 14 th, charged to third.
“We passed a lot of cars, got by a few on a restart,” he said. “To get a third after starting 14th, I can’t complain.
“There at the end, once we got strung out the first couple of laps, the only guys probably making up time were guys that had come in and already had new tires on their right rear.”
Kemenah was fourth and Brown worked his way back to fifth, which earned him the Hard Charger Award.
Swindell, Meyers and Stewart overcame their issues to finish sixth through eighth, respectively. Donny Schatz, who started 16th, was ninth and Kraig Kinser drove from 20th to 10th in the final two laps after his caution for a flat tire.
Swindell, Madsen and Craig Dollansky each claimed a heat race victory and McCarl won the Last Chance Showdown.
The World of Outlaws will compete next on Saturday in the NAPA Know How SoCal Showdown at Perris Auto Speedway in Perris, Calif.