Short Track

#Winter Heat: Danny Lasoski Dominates In The Finale

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There were two faces familiar to Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown Victory Lane that stood atop the podium on Saturday during the 2nd edition of the marquee event at Cocopah Speedway.

Danny Lasoski, who captured the inaugural title in 2015, led the final 29 laps of the race, and dominated the field, to score his first victory of the year. Meanwhile, Shane Stewart, who won back-to-back features entering Saturday, charged from deep in the field in 19th starting position, to finish in seventh place to garner the 2016 championship by eight points over Dale Blaney.

“We didn’t really change a whole lot from our package that we had last year,” Stewart said. “The main thing was we came here and raced. We got ourselves back in the groove. I think this will help us going to Florida (next month to start the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series season).”

When the green flag waved began Lasoski quickly advancing to second place from his fourth starting position. He then passed Greg Hodnett, who led the first lap, with a classic slide job entering turn three on Lap 2.

The lone caution of the race came on Lap 6 as polesitter Jason Johnson, who was running third, spun exiting turn two. Lasoski quickly built a sizable advantage, almost a full straight way in length, following the restart and Daryn Pittman wasted little time passing Hodnett for the runner-up position.

Traffic came into play on Lap 11 and remained heavy until the checkered flag. With Lasoski mired behind traffic on the bottom groove, Pittman inched to the top of the track in turns three and four and reeled in the leader – a scene eerily similar to Friday night, when Stewart used a late-race pass by powering around the top groove to steal the victory from Lasoski.

“I wasn’t going to let that happen twice,” Lasoski said. “I knew what I did last night was completely driver error. We had a really good race car tonight. Hopefully we can come back next year.”

Pittman closed within a car length of Lasoski on multiple occasions, however he was unable to make a bid for the lead. Pittman settled for a second-place finish, which was his best result of the Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown.

“We made some changes there for the feature that, man, made all the difference in the world,” said Pittman, who placed third in the event standings. “I was really good on the top in (turns) three and four and then it got really clean. It started to rubber a little on the bottom in (turn) three and four. If it hadn’t done that I thought we had a shot at it, especially in traffic.”

Hodnett rounded out the podium, which wrapped up a fourth-place result in the standings.

“We put different bars, different shocks on it for the feature and just weren’t good enough,” he said. “The other guys were way better. We’re fortunate to come out of here with another top three.”

While the battle up front was intense, Stewart’s charge through the field was very impressive. His Larson Marks Racing team was forced to change an engine following a qualifier and Stewart narrowly made it onto the track in time for a B Main, where a runner-up finish transferred him into the 19th starting position for the main event.

“We struggled a little bit,” he said. “Our team is really good. They just put their heads down when we have a little bit of an issue and just get through it.”

Stewart advanced inside the top 10 by Lap 11 of the feature and he gained three more positions during the second half of the feature. That kept him in the lead of the championship standings, which paid $4,000 to win thanks to Cometic Gasket, JE Pistons and K1 Technologies.

Blaney, Pittman, Hodnett and Lasoski, who, respectively, placed second through fifth in the event standings, each received $1,500.

Blaney finished fourth in Saturday’s main event with NASCAR star Kasey Kahne in fifth.

Logan Schuchart was sixth with Stewart, Roger Crockett, Trey Starks and Dominic Scelzi rounding out the top 10, respectively.

Logan Forler, Terry McCarl, Lasoski, Jason Solwold and Johnson each won a heat race with Joey Saldana, Kahne, Starks, Bill Balog and Bud Kaeding claiming a qualifier. Rico Abreu and Aaron Reutzel were triumphant in the twin B Mains.

A Main results:

1. 33-Danny Lasoski (4); 2. 9k-Daryn Pittman (3); 3. 121-Greg Hodnett (2); 4. 1b-Dale Blaney (9); 5. 4-Kasey Kahne (5); 6. 1s-Logan Schuchart (8); 7. 2-Shane Stewart (19); 8. 11c-Roger Crockett (10); 9. 55t-Trey Starks (6); 10. 41s-Dominic Scelzi (12); 11. 83-Joey Saldana (14); 12. 21b-Brian Brown (20); 13. 24-Terry McCarl (7); 14. 24r-Rico Abreu (17); 15. 17a-Austin McCarl (11); 16. 1g-Christopher Bell (22); 17. 68-Chase Johnson (15); 18. 88n-D.J. Netto (13); 19. 55-Aaron Reutzel (18); 20. 18-Jason Solwold (21); 21. 7t-Tasker Phillips (24); 22. 17b-Bill Balog (23); 23. 6g-Bryan Gossel (16); 24. 41-Jason Johnson (1).

 

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About Leon Hammack

Leon Hammack is a retired airline pilot and avid race fan. Leon is a contributing writer and photographer for all three of NASCAR's touring series, as well as sprint car and midget racing. A native of Fresno, CA now wintering in Yuma, AZ., additionally, he spends the summer months near Coos Bay, OR. You may contact Leon on Twitter @captainblowdri

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