The first-ever Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown is a throwback to the Slick 50 days in the early 1990s, when many of the prominent sprint car competitors headed to the desert during the offseason for several premier races.
“I’ve always wanted to promote one of the biggest sprint car events and after a couple of years of planning, with the help of Tony Stewart and others, we decided to debut the Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown in 2015,” Burgess said. “There was a lot of risk involved, especially in the first year. We believed if we worked hard it would come together and everything worked extremely well for the first year. Now the plan is to make this an annual event for the drivers, teams and fans to look forward to.”
More than 35 of the top sprint car competitors in the country, including drivers from the West Coast to the East Coast and former champions with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, All Star Circuit of Champions and ASCS National Tour as well as NASCAR stars Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson, embarked upon Cocopah Speedway during the first two weeks of the year.
World of Outlaws veteran Paul McMahan held off fellow Outlaw Joey Saldana to claim the opening round before Larson outlasted Stevie Smith during an epic slide-fest in thick traffic to win Round 2.
Steve Kinser, who is the winningest driver in the history of the World of Outlaws, powered to the victory during the midweek race as McMahan used a runner-up result to regain the lead in the championship standings during the midpoint of the event.
Danny Lasoski capitalized on a last-lap pass in traffic to garner the triumph during Round 4 after Dale Blaney, the winningest driver in All Star history, led the majority of the main event.
Aaron Reutzel capped the inaugural Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown by earning his first career 410ci feature victory during the finale. Meanwhile, Lasoski earned the Hard Charger Award for maneuvering from 16th to sixth, which also propelled him into a tie with Smith for the overall championship. However, Lasoski was awarded the title based on the first tiebreaker of feature victories.
Saldana, McMahan and Northwest standout Roger Crockett rounded out the top five in the championship standings, respectively.
Parity was the name of the game throughout the event as there was a first-time winner in every main event and B Main during all five races and there wasn’t a repeat Hard Charger Award recipient.
Eight different drivers led at least one feature lap, including Reutzel, whose 46 laps led was the event high.
Reutzel and Lasoski were the only feature winners to have not won a B Main. McMahan, Kinser and Larson each recorded a consolation victory.
A total of 13 drivers scored at least one heat race win with Craig Dollansky recording an event-best three.
Kahne and Sam Hafertepe Jr. each claimed three qualifiers to lead the 13 drivers who recorded at least one.