ALGER, Wash. — Once Kerry Madsen crossed the finish line with the checkered flag waving behind him, it was safe to breathe.
Up to that point, not so much.
Five drivers had a bid for the victory end in contact or mechanical failure during World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series action on Friday evening at Skagit Speedway.
Madsen overcame a near mess of his own after colliding with Donny Schatz for the lead on a restart en route to his fourth World of Outlaws feature win of the season.
“Any of these races is tough to win,” Madsen said. “When you get around the front five, there’s not a lot of give and take. Luckily we had track position.”
The front row starters battled side by side for the opening lap before Schatz edged Madsen at the line to lead the first lap. He maintained the advantage as the drivers entered traffic on lap six. However, Cody Darrah spun in turn two on lap 11 to cause the first caution of the race.
Attrition to cars in the top five began to take its toll on the restart as fourth-running Tim Kaeding pulled to the infield following an engine issue around the same time there was contact for the lead.
As Schatz and Madsen took the green flag and raced toward turn one, a slight collision occurred near the flag stand. The contact was enough to flatten the left rear tire for Schatz, who dropped several positions before stopping on the frontstretch on lap 13 for a caution.
“It was very close,” Madsen said. “Unfortunately we banged wheels. Donny’s a great racer and he’s renowned for being clean, so really unfortunate for him. I hate that happened for him.”
Schatz’s crew changed the tire and he restarted 19th, but the attrition continued. Shane Stewart, who advanced to second for the restart, began to challenge Madsen for the lead when a broken rear end sent him to the infield on lap 16.
The drivers entered traffic on lap 22 before trouble struck for a pair of top-five drivers. With three laps remaining, Trey Starks spun on the frontstretch in front of the leaders. Kraig Kinser and his father, Steve Kinser, were nearly side by side in a battle for third place when both collided with Starks.
Kraig Kinser smashed into Starks’ car, which had spun around backwards, head on and Steve Kinser caught the left rear tire of Kraig Kinser’s car. The contact forced Steve Kinser’s car to tip over, which ended his night with an 18th-place result. Kraig Kinser was also done and credited with 17th.
That gave Sammy Swindell a final chance at recording his third consecutive win and he nearly pulled it off. Swindell, who started on the outside of Madsen on the double-file restart, dove to the bottom in turns one and two. However, Madsen’s momentum on the high groove exiting turn two proved just enough to give him the edge going into turn three.
“We got close, but I wasn’t expecting him to go to the bottom in (turn) three,” Swindell said after finishing second. “He changed directions and kinda went down there and shut down. I got in a little too low and gave him a little chance. But you gotta do whatever you can. He was in the right place.”
The runner-up performance was Swindell’s fifth top-two finish in the seven races since the Goodyear Knoxville Nationals.
The attrition also helped Craig Dollansky secure his 10th podium finish in the last 14 points events.
“There was a lot of banging wheels and cars were a little bit everywhere, but sometimes some of these races you just have to try to survive them,” said Dollansky, who maintained his championship points lead. “We didn’t have a real good car. We were kinda hanging in there at best, but we’ll go to work on that tomorrow.”
Jac Haudenschild charged from 13th to fourth and Chad Kemenah placed fifth. Travis Jacobson ended sixth and Travis Rilat earned the KSE Hard Charger Award after piloting from 22nd to seventh. Joey Saldana was eighth, Jason Sides ninth and Bill Rose rounded out the top 10 after starting 19th.