LAS VEGAS — With the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip in the distance, Tim Kaeding celebrated in style Thursday night after he won a World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series feature at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas for the second consecutive year.
“I think a couple of years ago I lost all my luck at the casinos and it’s paying me back out here at the race track,” he said. “We had a great race car all night long and we did what we had to do, and that was run up front and steal the win from everybody.”
Kaeding roared from his third starting position to the lead on the backstretch of the opening lap with polesitter and Wednesday’s feature winner — Donny Schatz — in close pursuit. By lap 12, Kaeding had established nearly half a straightaway lead as he entered traffic.
That advantage disappeared in two laps. Kaeding and Schatz raced side by side down the backstretch and into turns three and four on lap 14. Kaeding stayed on the inside groove as Schatz powered around the top, which gave him enough momentum to take the lead exiting turn four.
As they continued to battle through traffic and with Joey Saldana pressuring Kaeding for the runner-up position, Kaeding had a near-perfect entry in turn one with 10 laps remaining. He slid up in front of Schatz to regain the top spot as they exited turn two.
“It was a hard track to pass on,” Kaeding said. “We snuck by him there. He got stuck on the outside and we kinda got back to the bottom and had some clear track.”
Four laps later, Brady Bacon stopped in turns three and four to bring out the second — and final — caution of the 30-lap feature. Kaeding chose the inside lane on the double-file restart as Schatz’s left front tire went flat during caution.
That gave Kaeding a sizeable advantage on the restart as he rocketed to the lead. Schatz shot down to the bottom groove and struggled, which bogged down that lane.
“It hurt me, actually,” said Saldana, who restarted behind Kaeding on the inside of the second row. “I kinda thought it might help me, him being on the outside. He was smart enough he knew he needed to get down. It just took my groove away and that got Jason a clear run around there.”
That allowed Jason Sides, who restarted fourth, to drive around the outside of Schatz and Saldana for second place. However, he was unable to catch Kaeding, who had an open track without traffic until the checkered flag.
“The cautions kind of plagued us last night; we could have used a caution or two tonight,” Sides said. “But there again, TK was on a good run. We’d like to maybe have another caution to give us a shot at racing with TK off the start.
“I’m happy to run another second place like last night…two top threes both nights and make a little money, maybe offset some of my expenses from Vegas here.”
Saldana finished third to earn his first podium of the season.
“There was a point during the race I thought we had a shot at maybe getting them guys, but it’s just a good, solid effort all night,” he said.
David Gravel, who was racing for injured World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series driver Bill Rose, scored his best finish of the season in fourth place. Kyle Larson rallied from 15th to round out the top five.
Lucas Wolfe was fast qualifier for the second straight night.