BARBERVILLE, Fla. — He was “only” second fastest in time trials, but other than that, Daryn Pittman’s first World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series race in Kasey Kahne’s No. 9 went perfectly.
Pittman won his heat, then scored a convincing $10,000 victory over Jac Haudenschild, teammate Brad Sweet and race-long rival Sammy Swindell in Friday night’s 30-lap season opener at Volusia Speedway Park.
Dash winner Swindell and Sweet led the field to the green flag with Swindell taking command over Sweet and third-starting Pittman. However, Greg Wilson tagged the inside fence in turn one, leading to a complete restart. Swindell again prevailed, leading through the second yellow flag for a slowing Brooke Tatnell on lap 10.
Pittman made the move of the race on the restart, taking the high line into turn one to blow past Sweet before shooting to the bottom to get inside Swindell and take the lead.
“We had the best car all night,” declared Pittman. “Sammy got us on the start but I got in above the cushion, got it turned and carried a lot of speed down the backstretch and got him going to three. What a way to start the year.”
Swindell was closing on Pittman in traffic midway through the race, but a yellow flag on lap 22 got the duo out of the lapped cars and let Pittman pull away again. Just four laps later the caution flag waved again when Lance Dewease tried to get in the back pit gate, missed it and turned for the infield, sending cars scrambling on the backstretch.
The ensuing restart was even wilder with a scramble in the front telescoping back until Justin Henderson got into the wall and flipped.
With a single-file restart on the next try, Pittman was home free, with Swindell appearing to have second locked up until the last lap when he slowed, letting Haudenschild and Sweet pass before the checkered flag. Fast-timer Paul McMahan was fifth, ahead of Craig Dollansky, Jason Sides, Donny Schatz and Kraig and Steve Kinser.
“I lost part of the nose wing on that one restart, so the car got really tight,” offered the disappointed Swindell. “Then they ran us out of fuel on the last lap.”
Haudenschild, on the other hand, was extremely pleased, as his tie rod had a big bend in it, giving his mount a huge amount of toe-out.
“It was a little hard to steer,” he declared with a laugh. “It happened about ten laps in, so it was a long race. Before that, the No. 9 was a little quicker than us, but the car was really good then and not all that bad after.”