There was at least one happy dude parked in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series Victory Lane on a frigid Sunday night.
It was the winningest dude in Volusia Speedway Park history, ‘The Dude’ – Danny Lasoski – who picked up his first win of the season and 20th career at the half mile to conclude the sprint car week at the 42nd annual UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment.
“I really like this place,” he said wearing a big grin.
Lasoski shared the spotlight with Daryn Pittman, who was crowned the overall champion of the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit and received a unique three-foot, bronzed gator trophy. His win, runner-up and fifth-place finish during the three-day event – which combined qualifying, heat races and feature points – earned enough points to edge Paul McMahan by 18.
“We had a conversation on our way down here between me and the whole crew on what our goals were for the year and the No. 1 goal was to come here and win that gator,” Pittman said. “I’m just having a lot of fun. Just a great way to start the year off accomplishing one of our goals that we had set out.”
As impressive as Pittman’s weekend was, including a late rally from ninth to fifth in the final three laps on Sunday, Lasoski stole the show to win a wild feature. With the temperature at 35 degrees when the cars were pushed onto the track for the main event, it sure heated up quickly.
Lasoski, who started on the pole of the 30-lap feature, was three wide with Chad Kemenah and Cody Darrah exiting turn two on the opening lap. Lasoski was able to secure the lead as the cars slid through turn four and he remained the leader for the first five laps before Kemenah drove under him entering turn one on lap six.
Kemenah got into traffic on the ensuing lap and Darrah passed Lasoski for the runner-up position in turn two on the eighth lap. The trio battled within a handful of car lengths amid traffic for several laps before Brooke Tatnell brought out the first caution of the race when he stopped in turn three on lap 13.
Kemenah, Darrah and Lasoski continued to put on a show after the restart and after reaching traffic on lap 17, Darrah made his best bid for the lead and pulled next to Kemenah around lap 20. However, Kemenah maintained the lead and pulled to a sizeable advantage until Craig Dollansky, who was running fifth, broke in turn two with three laps remaining for another caution.
Darrah appeared to get into the inside wall entering turn one on the restart and he got sideways, corrected himself and continued on in the top five. However, Terry McCarl – Saturday night’s winner – came to a stop in turn two for a caution. The field reverted to the previous restarting order, but Darrah’s left front tire was damaged.
He tried to nurse it on the next restart and would have caught a huge break as Kemenah drove beneath the cone on the frontstretch, bringing out another caution and penalizing him two positions.
“I thought I was out of tear offs and the tear offs ear was broke off and it’s just like being out of tear offs,” Kemenah said. “I couldn’t see. I come by there and I thought, ‘Well, why didn’t they put the cone out?’ But they did and I was completely underneath of it they said. It was just a mistake on my behalf.”
Darrah would have inherited the lead, but was forced to pit with the tire starting to come off the wheel. That moved Lasoski back to the front with Kemenah in tow.
The duo were neck and neck on the restart, but fifth-place running Steve Kinser spun in turn one. Brad Sweet, who was in ninth, flipped after making contact and Jac Haudenschild also slid into Kinser.
Since contact caused a caution on a restart, the race went back to green with the drivers running in single file. Lasoski committed to the bottom groove and Kemenah rode the cushion. The shorter distance around the inside allowed Lasoski to come up just in front of Kemenah on every straightaway and Lasoski edged Kemenah by a car length at the finish line.
“You had to keep your nose clean; everything was happening so fast,” Lasoski said. “The race track actually widened out where you can run top, bottom and middle, and that’s all we can ask for.”
A dejected Kemenah blamed himself for not ending in Victory Lane.
“I’m just really mad,” Kemenah said. “I thought we were going to drive back around him on that last lap going into (turns) three and four, but it just wasn’t there and I came home second.”
Meanwhile, Justin Henderson was thrilled after earning his first podium of the season by surviving the attrition.
“We had a really good car,” he said. “I was watching them battle and nobody was really pressuring me.”
Donny Schatz drove from 14th to fourth and Pittman rounded out the top five.
Sammy Swindell was sixth, McMahan placed seventh and Kerry Madsen earned the KSE Hard Charger Award after driving from 22nd to eighth. Darrah finished ninth and Jason Sides ended 10th.
The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series is off for the next two weekends before resuming action on Wednesday and Thursday, March 6-7, at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas in Las Vegas.