Kemenah Dodges the Carnage to Claim Victory at Eldora
The Ohio native picks up his first World of Outlaws win since 2009
ROSSBURG, Ohio – May 4, 2012 – There had to be a full moon hiding behind the incoming storm Friday night at Eldora Speedway.
A variety of issues plagued drivers running in the top five and a wild crash eliminated four competitors in the top 10 with seven laps remaining on Night 1 of the Outlaw Thunder presented by Goodyear.
It all worked in favor of Ohio native Chad Kemenah, who survived the melee to record his first World of Outlaws victory since 2009.
“We got lucky there,” he said after an emotional appearance in Victory Lane. “You don’t want to win like that, but we’ve given some away so I’m not complaining. A win is a win and they pay the same.
“When you’re this close to home it makes it that much better. It’s only an hour and a half to home, so this is kinda like home to me.”
As lightning loomed in the distance, the feature began with a blazing start. Polesitter Jac Haudenschild was easily the quickest in the field and he proved it by maintaining a sizeable lead against runner-up Steve Kinser, who owns a series-best 35 World of Outlaws feature wins at the high-banked, half-mile oval.
After a caution on lap three for Randy Hannagan’s stalled car on the frontstretch, Haudenschild quickly powered to a straightaway advantage as he entered traffic on lap eight. However, a red flag for Stevie Smith, who flipped in turn two on lap 17, erased more than a three-second lead for Haudenschild.
That mattered little as he again drove to a large lead only to have the caution flag wave on lap 18 because debris shattered one of the lights on the frontstretch. The race resumed with Haudenschild setting a blistering pace as David Gravel, Sammy Swindell and Tim Shaffer battled in a thrilling three-wide race for fifth place.
With 10 laps remaining, things became hectic. While running second, Kinser’s left rear tire gave way in turn four. He returned from the pits at the last minute and restarted 14th.
Haudenschild again rocketed to the front as Swindell and Kerry Madsen traded slide jobs for fourth place for a trio of laps. On lap 24, Swindell brought out a caution while running fifth because of a left rear tire issue.
During the caution, Haudenschild gave up the lead and pulled to the pits because he ran out of fuel. That provided second-running Dale Blaney the top spot, but a lap later – while the race was still under caution – Blaney drove into the pits because of a flat tire.
That moved Gravel into the lead, which was also short-lived. Gravel chose the outside lane for the double-file restart with Madsen lining up inside. The two viscously collided on the bottom in turn one, sending both flipping up the track.
Craig Dollansky and Tim Shaffer, who were competing for top-five positions, had nowhere to go and smashed into the mess. Paul McMahan was also caught up in the incident, which forced all five cars to the pits for the remainder of the night and left debris scattered across turns one and two.
That also advanced Kemenah to the lead, which he didn’t relinquish en route to a victory at his favorite track.
“I could see there was going to be a wreck going in there,” he said after leading the final seven laps. “I just aimed for the bottom. I figured they were going to the outside.
“Any time you get an opportunity like that, you’ve just got to seize the moment and go get it.”
Donny Schatz drove from 12th to earn the runner-up position, which moved him into the World of Outlaws championship standings lead by one point over Swindell.
“There were a lot of things going on and I’m glad we weren’t in it,” Schatz said. “We had a so-so car; it wasn’t the greatest. We were just kinda riding around and trying to be cautious and stay out of trouble.”
Kinser rebounded to round out the podium as he held off a late charge from 13th-starter Cody Darrah to claim third place.
“Just one of those nights,” Kinser said. “I’m awful lucky after having a flat tire there to miss everything and to finish third.”
Daryn Pittman, who started 11th, finished fifth and Swindell was sixth. NASCAR star Tony Stewart, who owns Eldora Speedway, charged from 17 th to seventh and Joey Saldana placed eighth. Kraig Kinser earned the KSE Hard Charger Award after piloting from 20th to ninth and Cap Henry moved from 19th to round out the top 10.
Gravel set quick time in qualifying with a lap of 13.228 seconds before Blaney, Dollansky, Madsen and Swindell each won a heat race. Kraig Kinser led all 12 laps to win the Last Chance Showdown.
The World of Outlaws concludes the Outlaw Thunder presented by Goodyear at Eldora Speedway on Saturday.