HORSEHEADS, N.Y. — Column by Race Chaser Online New York Dirt Correspondent Steven Ovens — Kasey Kahne Racing photo —
Kasey Kahne Racing Starts Season at Four-for-Five
Anyone other than the folks at Kasey Kahne Racing who say that they saw four out of five wins coming to start the 2016 season on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series is probably lying.
What they have done so far with Brad Sweet and Daryn Pittman is nothing short of impressive and just short of wizardry.
After having an inconsistent 2015 season, where Sweet and Pittman combined for just ten wins between themselves and only scored one more top five than series champion Donny Schatz did all on his own, the crew went to work this winter on improving their team’s performance and the results in 2016 have shown that they’ve done just that. KKR has shown speed right off the trailer winning three out of the first five Quick Time awards — already just two off their 2015 mark of five.
Sweet started out the season by picking up two wins in Florida at DIRTcar Nationals and winning the “Big Gator” for being the Florida high points man — an honor Pittman collected a year ago. He has yet to finish outside the top five in the five races run so far between Florida and Texas and picked up his third win of the season last weekend at Cotton Bowl Speedway with a last turn, last lap pass of his Oklahoma compatriot.
Pittman has not been far off the mark himself, as his Great Clips No. 9 picked up their first win of 2016 this past Saturday at Royal Purple Raceway Park. He has finished in the top five all but one race and has contributed two of KKR’s three Quick Time awards. An injury in 2015 took Pittman out of title contention, but his start to this season has shown how prepared they are to make a serious run at it.
For Sweet, the question remains — Can this team and driver make this momentum and strong performances last throughout the 2016 season? We have seen Sweet and KKR show moments of brilliance in their time racing together, but we haven’t seen the consistency that would provide them a shot to win a World of Outlaws championship.
Certainly Donny Schatz’ performances the last couple seasons was a big part of that, but it looks like KKR has raised their game this year.
And for the entire series going into the rest of the year? That’s a pretty great thing to see happening.
Donnelly Exits Rolling Wheels
Glenn Donnelly broke the internet on Wednesday afternoon when he announced that his management team that is heading up the construction at Central New York Raceway Park would end their affiliation with Rolling Wheels effective immediately.
They will be turning their 100% focus to CNYRP, which is slated to be completed in Summer 2016 and scheduled to host the new era for Super DIRT Week in October.
I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in.
Rolling Wheels Raceway Park is now in trouble, in my humble opinion. We don’t know if this separation was planned or unexpected, but what we do know is this — “The Wheels” just lost the team that brought their track instant credibility in the dirt racing world.
Donnelly brought with him a management team that built the Dirt Motorsports empire and shaped the Super DIRTcar Series as we know it. This team built the foundation and created over 30 years of history with the wildly popular Super DIRT Week in Syracuse, NY before Dirt was sold and eventually purchased by current owner World Racing Group.
Sponsors starting jumping onboard with Rolling Wheels, major events and some of the Northeast’s best in Dirt Modifieds, Crate Sportsman and winged Sprint Cars flocked to Rolling Wheels to compete. Donnelly also brought with him a television production crew that within a matter of one month, had put together a national TV package that aired Rolling Wheels Raceway Park events on MavTV.
The team headed up by Donnelly also brought their state-of-the-art SYNDI (synthetic dirt) racing surface to the five-eighths-mile oval for it’s first trial at the Elbridge, N.Y. facility. Although it took time, the SYNDI surface proved to be very consistent and showed record speed when the new track record was set at last October’s World of Outlaws Sprint Car series event.
Prior to Donnelly’s involvement, Rolling Wheels had been the butt of a lot of dirt track racing jokes in the racing community. New ownership and management had gotten off to a terrible start when they offered purses and promises that race fans felt were way too good to be true. In an age where social media is vitally important in event promotion, the social media management for the track was a dumpster fire.
With Donnelly and crew heading for the gates to go finish CNYRP, we all have to sit back now and wonder — are we headed down familiar roads with this iconic track?
The opinions expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Race Chaser Online, Speed77 Radio, Turn 5 Live, the Performance Motorsports Network, their sponsors or other contributors.
About the Writer
Steven Ovens is the Northeast Dirt Correspondent for Race Chaser Online and the creator and host of the Turn 5 Live dirt track racing radio show, airing at 7:30 p.m. Eastern every Tuesday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Ovens has spent his lifetime in the sport of dirt track racing, growing up in the garages of the Kerrick and Ovens families. He spent 11 years behind the wheel between go-karts and 4 Cylinder Mini Stocks which brings a unique perspective to his dirt track editorials.
The 29-year-old has a career in the growing health care business world, and is also serving as the full-time announcer and PR Director for both Outlaw Speedway (formerly Black Rock Speedway) in Dundee, N.Y. and Woodhull Raceway in Woodhull, N.Y.
Email Steve at: [email protected]
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