‘The Dude’ Tops Short Track Nationals Opener
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – I-30 Speedway’s week of STN festivities kicked off in rousing fashion with Dover, Mo., native Danny Lasoski besting a field of 95 competitors in Wednesday night’s inaugural Short Track Nationals Open 25-lap feature.
After taking the lead from Johnny Herrera on the 15th circuit, Lasoski went on to not only pick up the $2,500 winner’s share, but also assured himself a provisional starting position in Saturday night’s $15,000-to-win, $2,500-to-start STN championship feature should he not race his way in. Lasoski can also pick up a $2,500 bonus courtesy of Dixon Road U-Pull-It in the event of a win in the finale.
Lasoski was chased to the line by the battling trio of Herrera, Christopher Bell and Tim Crawley, who are also eligible for the STN Open provisional that goes to the highest finisher among Wednesday night’s top four that fails to race into Saturday’s championship finale.
“It’s fun to drive when the car is working that good,” Lasoski said of Mark Burch’s No. 1m Wolfweld.
While Lasoski took top honors in the inaugural STN Open, Cody Gardner took care of some unfinished business earlier in the night by winning the sixth annual Ralph Henson Memorial that was postponed Sept. 28.
While Lasoski started the night’s STN Open main event from inside row three, Crawley and Tony Bruce Jr., led the way to the green flag after accumulating the most passing points in heat race action.
Crawley, the 1998 STN champion, gunned into the lead at the outset with Herrera quickly moving from the third position into second before the red flag flew after one lap for Blake Hahn’s flip off of turn two.
Back under way, Herrera made quick work of Crawley by racing into the lead on the third circuit with fourth-starter Bell and Lasoski moving past two-time STN winner Bruce for third and fourth, respectively by the fifth round.
Lasoski closed in on Herrera quickly, offering a brief challenge on lap 12 before rallying by on the 15th round for keeps.
“I knew right away we were good,” Lasoski explained. “I could see those guys spinning their tires, I knew I just had to be smooth and we’d be faster as the race went on.”
Racing through traffic adeptly, Lasoski opened up nearly a straightaway lead by the time the race’s second and final interruption occurred for a David Gravel spin in turn two with 19 laps in the books. Gravel, who had been running eighth, rejoined the field at the tail.
With Herrera, Crawley and Bell back on his tailtank for the six-lap dash to the stripe, Lasoski slipped away to comfortably win his 11th overall feature of the year and assure himself of a fourth career STN championship feature start after finishing sixth last year and fourth the previous year when he won a preliminary feature event.
In Lasoski’s wake, the battle for runner-up honors was a furious one among Herrera, Bell and Crawley, with Herrera bringing the Print Place No. 45x across the stripe second. Bell snared the show position in Brandon Berryman’s No. 31b machine with Crawley fourth in Mike Ward’s No. 88.
Kevin Swindell climbed from 11th to claim fifth, with Bruce, sixth at the stripe. Sammy Swindell turned in the top passing performance by racing from 20th to seventh with Greg Wilson, Sam Hafertepe Jr. and Derek Hagar completing the top 10.
Hagar, Sammy Swindell, Jerod Roller, Bruce, Kevin Swindell, Seth Bergman, Ray Allen Kulhanek, Wilson and Hafertepe topped heat race action.