Danny 'The Dude' Lasoski Hoping To Pull Off Million-Dollar Miracle in Atlanta
Monday, September 13, 2004
Danny ¿The Dude¿ Lasoski isn¿t a name familiar to all race fans.
But after the Oct. 30 Crown Royal IROC season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway, it might be.
Lasoski, 45, drives a World of Outlaws car owned by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. Entering the final IROC event in Atlanta, Lasoski is sixth in points, behind all of the names familiar to NASCAR fans ¿ Newman, Kenseth, Johnson, Harvick, Busch.
But only 13 points separate Lasoski from leader Ryan Newman, meaning the World of Outlaws driver is by no means out of the hunt.
And if fans catch wind of just how energetic, enthusiastic and charismatic this driver is, he¿ll easily be the sentimental favorite of the crowd.
Spend 10 minutes with Lasoski, and you feel like a lifelong friend. You know his hopes, his dreams, his goals, and how much it means for him to be included in the field of 12 all-star drivers from different disciplines of auto racing.
After winning the second race of the four-race Crown Royal IROC season, of which he led every lap, Lasoski said he was so excited that he didn¿t sleep for three days. He called it the single biggest thing that had ever happened to him.
¿He puts more effort into winning races than anyone I¿ve ever seen, and I¿ve been testing these (IROC) cars for 28 years,¿ NASCAR veteran Dave Marcis said. ¿He¿s very determined, and it¿s nice to see somebody invited to this series with such dedication. It makes me proud to work with him. And with $1 million on the line, I think it also shows how smart he is.¿
That¿s right -- $1 million. For the first time in history, the IROC champion crowned in Atlanta on Oct. 30 will pocket a cool million. That¿s a major increase from the 2003 season, when champion Kurt Busch received $250,000, a series record.
And it¿s enough to catch the attention of all 12 drivers, who will be gunning for that huge payoff. For a guy like Kevin Harvick, who won¿t be in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup and its huge purse, the Crown Royal IROC race will represent one million reasons to excel in Atlanta.
But for Lasoski or Harvick to have a chance at the championsip, Newman will have to suffer early trouble and lead no laps. That would open the door for the rest of the field, including Matt Kenseth, who won last week¿s race in Richmond, as well as Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Harvick and Lasoski.
Lasoski knows he¿ll need to pull off another race like his flag-to-flag win in Texas ¿ plus receive some help from his open-wheel peers to put the NASCAR racers at the back of the finishing order.
Mathematically, though, anything is still possible, with the winner of each IROC race receiving 21 points, and last place receiving only 3 points. Bonus points are also awarded to lap leaders. With just 13 points separating the top six, this race is sure to be a thrill-seeker¿s dream.
The IROC race will be part of a star-studded fall race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The weekend kicks off with Georgia-Pacific Qualifying Night on Friday, Oct. 29, when the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers will be pushing to break the track record at NASCAR¿s fastest track. Immediately after qualifying, the American Speed Association (ASA) drivers will battle it. The action continues on Saturday with the Aaron¿s 312 Busch race, featuring the drama of 12 extra miles, and the championship IROC race. The weekend culminates with the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 on Sunday, Oct. 31.