ALLENTOWN — Fans swarmed Limaland Motorsports Park on Wednesday for the 23rd annual Brad Doty Classic. And while the pits for Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne were must-see stops for those shooting photos and seeking autographs, the presence of the NASCAR Sprint Cup stars wasn’t the only reason the thousands of fans came out.
“Absolutely not; I would come out here whether they were racing or not,” Lima resident Cindy Foust said. “It does add some excitement.”
Foust is a Sprint Car fan, normally taking in races at Eldora Speedway and Limaland, and the normal roster of World of Outlaw drivers was more than enough to get her back out to Limaland. Including the NASCAR stars, there were 39 Sprint Cars in the field Wednesday night.
West Liberty resident Greg Blaker and his daughter Erica were at Limaland a few weeks ago for the Ohio Sprint Speedweek, so they’re in the same boat as Foust.
“We were going to come, but it’s great to see these guys come back to their roots,” Greg Blaker said.
Kahne ran the Doty in 2007, the race’s second appearance at Limaland. He finished 11th in the feature after winning the B-Main, and the track and facilities brought him back out.
“It’s a neat short track,” Kahne said. “For the size, it’s a small track with a lot of banking, and it’s really wide so there is a lot of side-by-side racing. … The Brad Doty Classic is one of the Outlaws’ best races.”
Kahne grew up racing on dirt tracks in winged Sprint Cars like the Outlaws. Despite his success at every level of racing, Stewart is a novice in the world of wings. He struggled last year, not making it out of the C-Main race. This was his fifth Outlaws race of the season; he qualified toward the back of the pack with a fast lap of 12.004 seconds.
Even with his history in winged cars, though, Kahne still sees enough difference between his NASCAR ride and the Sprint Cars to make him less than comfortable.
“I enjoy racing these. They’re a light car and they move around a lot,” Kahne said. “I’m more at ease in my NASCAR these days. These cars are so quick and they accelerate so fast they take getting used to.”
Kahne showed his ease in the car, qualifying second quick with a time of 11.434 seconds. It put him in great position to start toward the front of the feature later in the evening.
Both drivers own teams on the Outlaw circuit; Kahne’s roster included Joey Saldana, who won the 2006 Doty Classic at Limaland, and Stewart has 20-time WoO champion Steve Kinser. The success or failure of their drivers adds to some competition at the NASCAR tracks.
“We enjoy it,” Kahne said. “We have a couple of teams and we enjoy them competing against each other, and we talk about it at Sprint Cup races.”
Here come the Outlaws