Fast Talkers: Driver quotes about Merced, Calistoga

Merced was reconfigured while Calistoga remains one of the most scenic venues

MERCED, Calif. — March 27, 2012 — The World of Outlaws spring swing through the West Coast wraps up this weekend at two very different tracks.

On Friday, Merced Speedway – arguably the smallest on the series last season – hosts its lone Outlaws event of the season. The track was reconfigured in the offseason from a quarter mile to a one-third miler with wider turns.

Calistoga Speedway is the site of Saturday’s World of Outlaws race. The historic half-mile oval is picturesque and features an unusual drive near vineyards to arrive at the track.

Here are quotes from the full-time World of Outlaws drivers about each venue:

Merced Speedway:

Cody Darrah (Red Lion, Penn.) – “Last year it was pretty tight. It was a tough race track to move around. It’s one of those race tracks that have really tried to make a good event and I’m sure it will play out to be.”

Craig Dollansky (Elk River, Minn.) – “It was probably the smallest track I’ve ever raced at. We learned some things there that we’ll try to apply this year. We weren’t where we needed to be gear-wise and where we needed to be with our race car.”

Chad Kemenah (Findlay, Ohio) – “There’s nothing quite like Merced.”

Kraig Kinser (Bloomington, Ind.) – “When I first started driving I got to race on a lot of bullring tracks and I got used to driving on them. It’s hard to tell how the track is going to be without going there and looking at it, seeing how it’s going to start out, how much water they’ve got, how much prep they’ve got on it, but hopefully it’s going to be a racy track.”

Steve Kinser (Bloomington, Ind.) – “I enjoyed racing there last year. Anything can happen on these kind of smaller tracks.”

Kerry Madsen (St. Marys, New South Wales, Australia) – “It’s still quite interesting to go to a different place all the time. There are some unique challenges for that track.”

Jason Meyers (Clovis, Calif.) – “I know when we went to Merced last year they had weather problems coming into the weekend. Hopefully the weather holds out for them this year. I know they’ve been working on it over the winter to get it ready to go, so it should be good racing.”

Bill Rose (Plainfield, Ind.) – “Merced is one little, bitty, tight bullring. It’s fun, but it’s so tight. You’ve got to watch your car because it’s really wheel to wheel.”

Joey Saldana (Brownsburg, Ind.) – “Last year we had a great car. We were running second to Sammy (Swindell) and felt like we were going to be in the race for the win. A lapped car almost took him out and eventually took me out. So definitely being bigger will help.”

Donny Schatz (Minot, N.D.) – “I don’t think Merced’s size is really a big issue. It is a tight, little place and we do manage to get around tight places fairly well.”

Sammy Swindell (Germantown, Tenn.) – “As tight as it was, that gets it pretty exciting. You can’t get very far away from somebody.”

Lucas Wolfe (Mechanicsburg, Penn.) – “It was pretty tight last year. I’m not really sure what the changes they made. It’s the same for everybody so we’ll see how it is.”

Calistoga Speedway:

Cody Darrah (Red Lion, Penn.) – “Driving there in the scenery is like nothing we have back on the East Coast. The race track is something more toward what I like – a bigger race track.”

Craig Dollansky (Elk River, Minn.) – “Calistoga is another track that I’ve enjoyed. Last year we ran out of fuel on the last lap and ended up coasting across the finish line in second. We’ve won some races at Calistoga. It’s a big track; not a typical California track. It’s kinda cool to get a half mile thrown in the mix in the California swing.”

Chad Kemenah (Findlay, Ohio) – “That’s kind of what I grew up on – big, flat half miles. It can be a little like a survival thing at times.”

Kraig Kinser (Bloomington, Ind.) – “It’s a flatter half mile, a lot different than some of the smaller, high-banked tracks that we run in California. We get to run a lot of that back in the Midwest.”

Steve Kinser (Bloomington, Ind.) – “I’ve always enjoyed running Calistoga over the years. It’s a track long enough where you can really get in the throttle and run hard. To me it’s always been a fun race track to race on.”

Kerry Madsen (St. Marys, New South Wales, Australia) – “Every time you go to Calistoga it’s a unique experience going through the vineyards to get up there. I’ve never really felt like I’ve ran that great there so I’ll be really looking forward to going there and coming away with a great result.”

Jason Meyers (Clovis, Calif.) – “I remember the first time I went there and we’re turning left and turning right through these little tiny neighborhoods in Calistoga and I’m thinking, ‘Where are we going?’ All of a sudden we pop through the trees and there’s a race track; not just a race track, but a half-mile race track in California. It’s a great facility. It’s always a lot of fun going up there.”

Bill Rose (Plainfield, Ind.) – “Just the history of Calistoga is really cool. That whole town and the race track is neat. It’s kind of like Williams Grove in the California area. There’s just a big history of the place and it’s a lot of fun to race on.”

Joey Saldana (Brownsburg, Ind.) – “I enjoy racing there. I’ve had some seconds and last year we ran fourth with a flat tire. We were leading the race and had issues at the end. So definitely looking forward to going back there and racing there, and hopefully we can keep air in our tires for the end of the race.”

Donny Schatz (Minot, N.D.) – “It’s definitely one of the most unique places we go to … the setting that it’s in and the mountains. It’s not commercialized. There’s not your local Outbacks and gas stations and hotels like everywhere else. It’s pretty proprietary to the area of bed and breakfasts and stuff like that.”

Sammy Swindell (Germantown, Tenn.) – “I’ve always enjoyed racing there. I’ve won there quite a few times, so I’m looking forward to going back up there.”

Lucas Wolfe (Mechanicsburg, Penn.) – “It’s certainly a crazy drive to get to, going through all the wineries and stuff. It’s certainly a historic track. Obviously from being on the East Coast … that was a track you always heard about and wanted to come to. So I was excited to get to go there last year and I have a little idea of what it’s about now so I look for some better results this year.”

Tickets for both races can be ordered online by clicking WorldofOutlaws.com/tickets or by calling 877-395-8606.

The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: Armor All (Official Car Care Products), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Goodyear Tires (Official Tire), Gravely Tractors (Official Lawn Equipment), University of Northwestern Ohio, VP Racing Fuel (Official Racing Fuel), Vicci (Official Apparel); in addition to contingency sponsors, including: Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, JE Pistons, KSE Racing Products, MSD Ignitions, Penske Shocks, Superflow Dynos and Wix Filters; along with manufacturer sponsors, including: Astro Titanium, Fuel Safe, Intercomp, J&J Auto Racing, Jake’s Carts, Racing Electronics, S&S Volvo and TNT Rescue.