Donny Schatz Captures Harvest Classic Crown at Calistoga Calistoga, CA -- Sept. 4, 2005 -- Donny Schatz's right rear tire was plugged, Steve Kinser's was blistered but they both held up long enough to stage an epic World of Outlaws Sprint Series...
Donny Schatz Captures Harvest Classic Crown at Calistoga
Calistoga, CA -- Sept. 4, 2005 -- Donny Schatz's right rear tire was plugged, Steve Kinser's was blistered but they both held up long enough to stage an epic World of Outlaws Sprint Series duel Sunday night in the $20,000-to-win Harvest Classic finale at Calistoga Speedway.
An open red flag for fuel with 16 of the 30 laps complete around the abrasive half-mile oval revealed the tire wear and gave each team a chance to make adjustments. Schatz's right rear was losing air pressure, but changing the Hoosier tire would send him to the back of the field so his father, Danny, found the leak and plugged it as crew chief Ricky Warner and Dion Hindi made other adjustments.
That might have been the move of the race because after a caution with 20 laps down it gave Schatz, who led the first 14 laps, a chance to get a run on Kinser down the backstretch on Lap 26 in his ParkerStore J&J. The tire held up as he slid in front of Kinser going into Turn 3, made it stick coming out of Turn 4 and drove off to the checkered flag for his sixth A-feature victory of the season.
Kinser, the championship points leader who put his Quaker State Maxim on the pole for the third consecutive night, held on to finish second. Tim Shaffer, in his Casey's General Store Maxim, and Jason Meyers, in his Elite Landscaping Maxim, made late moves around Daryn Pittman to grab third and fourth with Pittman's Titan Garages and Carports Maxim rounding out the top five.
Terry McCarl drove his Big Game Treestands Eagle to sixth with Jason Solwold in the City Wide Insulation Schnee, Jason Sides in the Wetherington Tractor Services Maxim, Shane Stewart in the Snap-On Tools Maxim and Kraig Kinser in the Remy Maxim completing the top 10.
Second qualifying-night winner and three-time Harvest Classic champion Danny Lasoski was on his way to earning the final spot in the Stacker 2® Dash in his Bass Pro Shops Eagle when he ran over a piece of debris going into Turn 3 during his heat race. His right rear tire exploded and sent him hard into the wall. The Tony Stewart Motorsports team pulled out a backup car, forcing Lasoski to start at the rear of the field. He raced his way back to a 14th-place finish.
When Jonathan Allard stopped in Turn 2, bringing out a caution with 10 to go, it figured to be the last chance for anybody to take a shot at Kinser, who dominated the first qualifying night feature and was on his way to victory on the second night when he was caught up in a five-car accident as he raced into Turn 3. Kinser came off the fourth corner low and powered into Turn 1. Pittman got a run on Schatz as Shaffer and Meyers kept pace. Shaffer and Meyers watched as Schatz fought off Pittman and they took advantage. On Lap 24, Shaffer and Meyers shuffled Pittman to fifth as Schatz was beginning to reel in Kinser.
Schatz was fast around the top in Turns 1 and 2 while Kinser was protecting the bottom. On Lap 26, Schatz carried his momentum off the corner and motored into Turn 3, beginning the crowd-thrilling pass that would push him into Victory Lane for his first Harvest Classic crown. Schatz also won a preliminary feature in 2004 at Calistoga.
"I knew if I followed him in I was going to follow him out," Schatz said of the move. "He'd have done the same thing to me. He might have had to park it but he had every chance in the world to drive back by. I'm just glad it worked. I was better on the top in Turns 1 and 2 and he was better than me in Turns 3 and 4 so I knew if I was going to pass him I was going to have to do it in Turns 3 and 4 and get a little run away from him in Turns 1 and 2 and it worked.
"I knew I was better than him after we got the tire sealed, but with Steve Kinser you better not show him anything until you're ready to go by and stay by. If you give him one opportunity, your opportunity is gone because he can adapt to anything. There are a lot of other guys you can pass and then they'll pass you back and then they'll make a mistake, but not Steve Kinser. He does not make a mistake so I just had to wait and wait and wait, and when I got close enough and I felt like it was time, I was going to do it in my bad corner that way I had a corner to make up for it and it worked."
Still, the plugged tire was in his mind "the whole time," wondering if it would last to the finish.
"The first night, we had one and it didn't stay," said Schatz, a Mean 15 racer from Fargo, N.D., who moved into the top five in points with the win. "Last night and tonight it did. I just thank God for those tire plugs and my dad does know what he's talking about with them. I kept telling him he didn't so I'm going to shut up and listen."
Steve Kinser had such a dominant car the first two nights of the Harvest Classic, it appeared that once he grabbed the lead in traffic to complete Lap 15 that he might control the rest of the event, especially following the red flag when he had clear track to work with on the single-file restart. But Schatz also had a strong car and earned the most points after the two qualifying nights.
"I caught the bottom there in Turns 1 and 2 and was running pretty good when everybody was slinging that stuff off of the bottom," said Kinser, a Mean 15 racer from Bloomington, Ind., who is closing in on his 20th World of Outlaws championship. "We got the rubber laid down there late in the race but I just stayed on the bottom in Turns 1 and 2 too long. I could pick it up and I thought maybe I'd wait and get a little peak of him, but Donny got a run on me coming off of Turn 2 and passed me going into Turn 3. I just waited too long. Once I got back up there I think I was a little bit faster around Turns 1 and 2 than he was. If I would have just jumped back up on the top I would have won the race but I didn't, I stayed on the bottom and got out ran.
"I just got so slow in Turns 1 and 2 and that's where he beat me. In Turns 3 and 4 we were both getting around the top pretty well. It was sort of my fault. I was running the top of this thing all weekend and sat there and second-guessed myself and knew I should have gone back up but I didn't do it and got out run."
For Schatz, the runner-up in the prestigious Knoxville Nationals, the victory is just the latest showing of his team's resurgence since it has added Warner and Hindi. In the past eight races he has two A-feature victories and would have had a third if the rear end on his car had not let go while he was leading with two laps remaining in Billings, Mont.
"Most of it is just getting on the driver's page and adapting to his driving style and more or less helping him," said Warner, who joined the team in August after working as a NASCAR crew chief at Evernham Motorsports. "On the motor side of it, we just needed some stuff changed but everybody knows what Donny is capable of when his stuff is right."
Shaffer's third-place run was his third top-five in the past three race nights and moved him to eighth in the championship standings.
"As long as you keep going better each night, the guys are working their butts off," said Shaffer, a Mean 15 racer from Aliquippa, Pa., who won the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup in July. "[Car owner] Lonny [Parsons] had to go home [to attend to some family issues] and we're short a guy. These guys never quit at all and we worked real hard together and it's showing.
"The main thing is we got better at the end. The first night is critical of this three-day race. It's all about points and you can't give up any. We were lucky enough to get locked in. We were fortunate enough to come back up through the pack Saturday night, but it wasn't all racing, it was luck. And I'll tell you, the crew never gave up. My guys worked hard and they gave 100 percent. I could go on and on about them but the main thing is we're working together, it's fun again and we're making results.
With his car working so smooth, Shaffer was determined to get around Pittman on the final restart.
"We found a little bit of rubber up in Turn 2 that helped us get by him," he said. "It's like running up front where you're scared to go anywhere that makes you change because you're leading. It's a little better running behind a guy but I had Meyers breathing down my back so I couldn't make any mistakes either."
Including preliminaries, Meyers has been in the top 10 the past seven races, strengthening his grasp on second place in the overall standings.
"It's a great weekend for the Elite Racing Team, and having a lot of sponsors here I think this is probably the best I've ever ran at this event," said Meyers, a Mean 15 racer from Clovis, Calif. "I had a car good enough to win tonight. I was a little disappointed they opened that red flag there. That gave a lot of guys a chance to tune-up, and we were real good from the start. Still, it was a good finish for the team this weekend. We were able to get Pittman at the end. I guess I wish the race would have been a little bit longer.
"Our starting setup was good, I was real happy with it so on that red we didn't make any changes. I think it gave some guys some opportunities that maybe weren't so good, particularly Schatz whose tire was going flat. That's how the cards fall. Some people got lucky tonight but it's still a good strong run for the whole team. We're proud of it and we'll take it into Chico this week."
Pittman was strong on the initial long run, but once the race became shorter segments between cautions, it allowed the field Shaffer and Meyers to take several runs at him.
"I didn't need the caution and I definitely didn't need the open red," said Pittman, a Mean 15 racer and native of Owasso, Okla., who won at Billings last month and is trying to break back into the top 10 in points. "We had that long green-flag run and honestly I felt like we were every bit as good as Steve and Schatz. They weren't getting away from me and I thought we might have a little something for them. I know we pulled away from Shaffer and at worst we were going to run third. That caution just hurt me and the racetrack changed and I didn't adapt well enough. It laid rubber back on the top.
"When you start fourth you hate to back up, but it was a good weekend for us. We finished in top-five every night. The points will take care of themselves that way."
The series shifts Sept. 8-10 to Chico, Calif., for the Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway before heading back east Sept. 12 to Rocky Mountain Speedway in Commerce City, Colo., for a one-night Brownfield Promotions' event and onto Eagle Raceway Sept. 16-17 for the 1/3-mile Championship in Eagle, Neb.
HARVEST CLASSIC NIGHT THREE NOTEBOOK
* A three-night event such as this weekend's Harvest Classic uses a unique scoring system. Teams earned qualifying points Friday and Saturday, with the top four in qualifying points after Saturday's A-feature -- Donny Schatz, Steve Kinser, Daryn Pittman and Tim Shaffer -- locked into the first four starting positions of Sunday's Stacker 2® Dash. The remainder of the Sunday field was placed into three heat races, lined up according to qualifying points with no inversion. Of the heat race cars, the highest two in qualifying points that transferred from the heats -- Jason Meyers and Jonathan Allard -- started fifth and sixth in the Stacker 2® Dash. Starting positions 7-24 in the A-feature were lined up according to qualifying points from the first two nights. No qualifying points were awarded on Sunday and teams were not allowed to use provisionals on either of the preliminary feature nights.
* Donny Schatz's victory Sunday night was his sixth of the season. There have been 17 different A-feature winners this season. Including preliminary events, 22 different drivers have visited Victory Lane. -- Steve Kinser's victory Friday night at Calistoga Speedway was his fourth preliminary feature win of the season. He leads the series with 17 A-feature victories. -- Kraig Kinser captured the Knoxville Nationals on Aug. 14 for his sixth A-feature victory of the season. He also has a preliminary feature win at Las Vegas. -- Jason Meyers earned his fourth win of the season July 2 at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, N.D. -- Tim Shaffer's victory July 19 in the Silver Cup was his third of the season, going with wins Lake Ozark Speedway and Thunderbowl Raceway. -- Craig Dollansky has won two features, most recently at Powercom Park, and he also has two preliminary feature wins. -- Brian Paulus won June 28 at Huset's Speedway for his second victory of the season, and picked up a preliminary feature win in the following race at Red River Valley Speedway. -- Brooke Tatnell has two A-feature victories, winning at Cedar Lake and Fulton speedways, as well as a preliminary feature win at Princeton Speedway. -- Sammy Swindell won his second A-feature of the season June 4 at Eldora Speedway. Swindell also has a preliminary feature win April 8 at Eldora and Aug. 14 at Knoxville Raceway in the Nationals' non-qualifiers event. -- Daryn Pittman won his second A-feature of the season Aug. 21 at BMP Speedway in Billings, Mont. -- Danny Lasoski won Aug. 30 at Cottage Grove Speedway and has three preliminary feature wins. -- Fred Rahmer won the Summer Nationals crown July 23 and picked up a preliminary feature win in the Knoxville Nationals on Aug. 10. -- Single-event winners include Jac Haudenschild on Aug. 5 at Eldora Speedway, Stevie Smith July 13 at Attica Raceway Park, Tim Kaeding June 11 at Sheboygan County Fair Park, Chad Kemenah July 9 at I-55 Raceway, and Jeff Shepard Feb. 11 at Volusia Speedway Park. -- In preliminary features, Joey Saldana, Paul McMahan, Jason Johnson and Shane Stewart have each won once.
* Drivers who have raced to victory in preliminary features this season include (in alphabetical order) Craig Dollansky twice (Manzanita/Williams Grove), Jason Johnson once (Williams Grove), Kraig Kinser once (Las Vegas), Steve Kinser four times (Eagle/Billings/Elma/Calistoga), Danny Lasoski three times (Australia/Knoxville/Calistoga), Kerry Madsen once (Australia), Paul McMahan once (Williams Grove), Brian Paulus once (Red River Valley), Fred Rahmer once (Knoxville), Joey Saldana once (Lernerville), Shane Stewart once (Knoxville), Brooke Tatnell once (Princeton), Sammy Swindell twice (Eldora/Knoxville).
* Including preliminary features, the series has raced 33 times this year on half-mile circuits with Steve Kinser winning nine times (Volusia, Eldora three times, Knoxville, Williams Grove, Hartford, Red River Valley and Calistoga), Sammy Swindell winning four times (twice at Eldora, once at Hagerstown and Knoxville), Craig Dollansky winning twice (Manzanita and Williams Grove), Kraig Kinser winning three times (Las Vegas, and twice at Knoxville), Jason Meyers winning twice (Granite City and Red River Valley), Donny Schatz winning three times (Las Vegas/Route 66 Raceway/Calistoga), Fred Rahmer winning twice (Williams Grove and Knoxville), Danny Lasoski winning twice (Knoxville/Calistoga), and Brian Paulus (Red River Valley), Jeff Shepard (Volusia), Jason Johnson (Williams Grove), Paul McMahan (Williams Grove), Jac Haudenschild (Eldora) and Shane Stewart (Knoxville) each winning once.
* Donny Schatz, Steve Kinser, Daryn Pittman and Tim Shaffer were locked into the first four positions in the Stacker 2® Dash following the two qualifying nights and were joined by Jason Meyers and Jonathan Allard after heat races were completed. Kinser got the jump and raced into the lead as Schatz fell in line behind him as they raced to the checkered flag with Kinser in front followed by Schatz, Shaffer, Pittman, Meyers, and Allard. It was the third consecutive night that Kinser won the Stacker 2 Dash to start on the pole in the main event.
* After his tire exploded in his heat race, sending his car hard into the wall between Turns 3 and 4, second qualifying night winner Danny Lasoski was forced to start at the back of the 10-car B-main in his backup car and race his way into a top-five transfer spot. Terry McCarl and Tim Kaeding raced together out of Turn 2 before McCarl gradually pulled away. Kaeding kept pace with Steve Kent, Sean Becker and Roger Crockett rounding out the top five as Lasoski gave chase in sixth. Then a late-race caution set up a green-white-checkered finish, giving Lasoski a chance to pull up right behind Crockett on the restart. The field charged down the backstretch and Lasoski went to the bottom in Turns 3 and 4 and slide up in front of Crockett to grab fifth as he came to the white flag. McCarl, who had changed engines, wound up winning with Kaeding, Kent, Becker and Lasoski also transferring to the main event.
* In the first heat race, Jason Meyers, who was fifth in qualifying points after the first two nights of the Harvest Classic, jumped to a quick lead and pulled away as the field ran single file behind him. Paul McMahan settled into second with Craig Dollansky, Jason Solwold, and Shane Stewart earning transfers to the main event.
* The second heat race was running smooth with Terry McCarl leading, Kraig Kinser second and Danny Lasoski third and in position to grab the final spot in the Stacker 2 Dash. Then with two to go, Lasoski's right rear exploded after he hit a piece of debris as he entered Turn 3. Lasoski's car bobbled and smacked the wall hard between Turns 3 and 4, forcing the Bass Pro Shops team into a backup car. As the field circled back around under caution, McCarl's belts loosened and when he stopped, his car wouldn't refire, forcing his Big Game Treestands team to change motors. When it all settled out, Kraig Kinser was in front and led the final two laps as he transferred along with Jac Haudenschild, Jason Sides, Brooke Tatnell and Stephen Allard.
* In the third heat, Joey Saldana slid into the lead in the first two turns and the field fell in line behind him as the top five raced the same line as Saldana, who wound up winning with Jonathan Allard, Brandon Wimmer, Brian Paulus and Toni Lutar also transferring. When Lasoski went out in the second heat, Allard, who was seventh in qualifying points, moved into the final spot in the dash.
* The series shifts Sept. 8-10 to Chico, Calif., for the Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway before heading back east Sept. 12 to Rocky Mountain Speedway in Commerce City, Colo., for a one-night Brownfield Promotions' event and onto Eagle Raceway Sept. 16-17 for the 1/3-mile Championship in Eagle, Neb.
* The Outdoor Channel will air at 8 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 7 the show from Grays Harbor Raceway, Sept. 14 the Harvest Classic from Calistoga Speedway and Sept. 21 the Gold Cup from Silver Dollar Speedway.