Donny Schatz Cruises at Lebanon Valley, Picks Up Ninth Win Of Season
West Lebanon, NY--July 23, 2006 -- Donny Schatz isn't afraid to try different things when he is at the racetrack. On Sunday night while most of the other drivers were running the low side of the track, he ventured to the high side in search of some extra speed. He surprised quite a few people and turned some heads, as they wondered what he was doing nearly hugging he wall.
It all paid off though, as Schatz stormed to victory at Lebanon Valley Speedway while Lucas Wolfe held off Daryn Pittman at the checkered flag to grab second.
Schatz, the current World of Outlaws Sprint Series championship points leader, won his ninth A-feature event this season in the ParkerStore J&J as he seeks his first series title.
As Schatz surged from final restart on Lap 18, Wolfe in the Allebach Racing Maxim and Pittman in the Titan Garages & Carports Maxim waged a battle for second. Brooke Tatnell in the Race Outfitters Eagle and Chad Kemenah in the Underground Utilities Inc. Eagle rounded out the top five.
"I'm just glad to be back here at Lebanon Valley," said Schatz, who led all 30 laps to claim the $10,000 checkered flag. "I like coming here. I learned a lot about this racetrack last year and we were really good in the dash tonight."
Schatz endured a couple of late cautions that allowed Wolfe and Pittman to close the gap and restart right on his bumper. Each time Schatz got a great start and flexed his muscle as he pulled out to some sizeable advantages.
"When we left yesterday, I told the guys I was excited to get here," said Schatz. "The crew was not excited when they saw the track surface earlier. A lot of people laughed at us earlier tonight, for running up there, but that is what won us the race."
The 1997 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Presented By Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt, helped himself in the point standings as well, by turning in the fourth quickest qualifying time earning two bonus points. He also earned four bonus points for leading the most laps, in the feature.
Schatz was setting a blistering pace on the always fast half-mile and had to negotiate lapped traffic on a couple of different occasions.
"I didn't want to take any silly chances," he said. "If someone would have been pushing me a little harder, I probably would have (raced lapped traffic). I didn't see anyone get up beside me, so I just kind of played it cool. I kind of road a round a little bit."
After a strong run last night that led to a second place, while only running on seven cylinders, Schatz was very happy to have a power plant at full strength underneath him on Sunday night.
"I knew we were ok," said Schatz. "Anytime you can use the gas pedal as hard as I did and have the tires hooked up you are ok. It's not very often you get to do that. You just want to be smart and run on the right place on the track. I knew where the right part of the track was and we just had to be smart."
Always one to be realistic, Schatz enjoyed the win for a few minutes, but then quickly shifted his focus to the race on Tuesday night at Fulton Speedway.
"We've only been there one time, and we were pretty decent," said Schatz. "It's gets real slick, and my car is good on those types of surfaces. I'm ready to get back there and see what happens."
Behind Schatz one of the best battles on the racetrack was staged for a good number of laps, as Wolfe and Pitman tried their best to catch the leader. Wolfe lined up for the A-Feature in the fourth spot, but was elevated to the outside of the front row after Jason Martin spun on the initial start. Since a full lap was not complete, by way of World of Outlaws rules, a complete restart was in order, though Martin had to go to the rear of the field.
Pittman lined up on the inside of the second row, and stayed right with Wolfe, as the two battled side-by-side. Pittman closed the gap countless times on the youngster, and poked his nose under him a couple of times. He made one strong charge as the pair came across the line for the checkered flag, and Wolfe claimed the runner-up spot my mere inches.
For Wolfe, it was his best career World of Outlaws A-Feature finish. He has competed in four straight features with the series, two of those being preliminary features at Williams Grove Speedway last week during the Summer Nationals.
"It was definitely a good result," said Wolfe. "We had a tough week up at Williams Grove, and expected to do a little better there. It's good to be able to follow the Outlaws up here and go to some new tracks and meet some new people from different area. It was excellent to able to put together a good finish for tonight. Second is very strong and hopefully we'll be ale to have a good night at Fulton on Tuesday night and continue some momentum for the next couple month and the rest of the season."
Wolfe feels more confident every time he straps into a race car, was very proud of what he accomplished on a track that is very tricky especially for young drivers.
"We came away with a good result and beat a lot of good guys," said Wolfe.
He tried his best to keep Schatz in his sight, but got caught up in lapped traffic a couple of times, as Schatz was able to stretch his advantage.
"It was difficult a few times with the lapped traffic," said Wolfe. "A couple of them got between Donny and I and at that point I would have liked it to have gone green. Then I could have timed how I hit lapped traffic a little better."
Pittman who won the finale of the Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway last night to pocket $20,000, was glad to pick up his 16th top-five finish of the year. He always wants to be in the winners circle, but he knew it would be a grueling and demanding race on Sunday night. He saved his best for the last lap, as he was a scant 0.111 seconds behind Wolfe at the stripe.
"It's fun to come here and run, but sometimes it's pretty tough to pass," Pittman said. "You have to have your car really good to be able to move up on the outside. You have to trust the guy you are passing, because you run out of room in a hurry. To start on the pole and run third in the dash was not a good thing, but all in all it was a good solid finish for us."
Pittman's credited his crew for making adjustments on the car all night, as they learned something every time they took to the track.
"We definitely were better in the feature than we were earlier in the night," said Pittman. "We'll take it. We're happy, we made some money and points and we'll go to Fulton."
Brooke Tatnell came into the event on Sunday night plenty of momentum, having had strong runs each night at Williams Grove over the weekend. He knew the track would be a little tough to pass on as he lined up eighth for the A-Feature. He had some slight contact with Craig Dollansky early in the feature as the pair along with Daryn Pittman was battling for the third spot and encountered some lapped traffic.
"It got to be one lane out there," said Tatnell. "I think Donny was the only guy that could really move around up front from what I could see. Lapped cars were unfortunate, especially for Craig (Dollansky). We got into the back of Craig and he got turned around."
Tatnell sits solidly in the fifth spot in series points, and has racked up 17 top-five finishes on the year. Always one the most amicable drivers in the pit lane, he was able to make to leave the track with a smile on his face and even make light of the heavy track conditions after the A-feature.
"We'll take a fourth," said Tatnell. "The car is straight and in one piece. This track is really not like anything else that we run. Next time I will make sure not to wear a white race suit."
On Tuesday night Tatnell returns to Fulton Speedway, where he won the inaugural World of Outlaws A-Feature last season. He looks to keep his name as the only one in the records books to win at the racy high-banked 3/8-mile track.
"We ran well at Fulton last but, we've been fast on the big tracks as well," Tatnell said. "I am definitely looking forward to the next couple of weeks. We're excited for Tuesday night, and then to go to Princeton and go home to Minnesota."
Chad Kemenah has had a tough string of luck the past few weeks, and was ecstatic to come away with a solid fifth place run on Sunday night. The current leader in the chase for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented By Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt, lined up 10th for the feature after a rear end failed on his car in the dash.
"For us this was a good result," Kemenah said. "Lately, we have been upside down or on fire. We've had terrible luck lately, and in the dash blew a rear end. I take my hat off to my crew, they never stopped working. That says a lot about the team. We've been through a lot as everyone has witnessed this year. We just keep our chin up, that is what I keep telling the crew. Lady luck eventually has to come back this way."
Kemenah passed two cars on the first two laps to get up to the sixth spot, and then used a couple of solid restarts while in the fifth position pick up his seventh top-five of the season. One of those was his season opening win at Volusia Speedway in February.
"I'm really happy to get a top-five against these guys," said Kemenah. "Maybe this will start to turn things around."
The native of Findlay, Ohio has taken a liking to wide and fast tracks like Lebanon Valley, though he still enjoys mixing up wheel-to-wheel on the bullrings. Kemenah believes his team is headed in the right direction and with a little luck on their side will have the results to show for all their hard work.
"I like the big tracks," he said. "Right now as long as we can continue to finish races, we'll be ok. We've been fast. It just seems like every time we run at the front, we get tore up. Like I say, lady luck will turn around here shortly, and we'll be alright."
The rest of the top-10 was Terry McCarl in the Big Game Treestands Eagle in sixth. Dion Hindi in the Realtruck.com J&J was seventh, after a strong qualifying run and finish in the dash. Danny Smith in the Kiger Signs Maxim was eighth. Joey Saldana was ninth in the Mopar-powered Dodge/Curb Records JEI. Randy Hannagan was 10th in the Penthouse Magazine Maxim.
The World of Outlaws Sprint Series rolls Tuesday into Fulton (N.Y.) Speedway before shifting back to the upper Midwest for the Princeton Nationals on Friday and Saturday at Princeton (Minn.) Speedway.
LEBANON VALLEY SPEEDWAY NOTEBOOK
* FAST QUALIFIER: Jac Haudenschild paced the 29 cars in time trials with an AMB i.t.-timed lapped around the 1/2-mile semi-banked oval at 18.697 seconds at 96.272 mph. For his qualifying effort, Haudenschild earned five bonus points. The next four fastest qualifiers also earned bonus points, including Craig Dollansky (4), Chad Kemenah (3), Donny Schatz (2), and Jason Martin (1). Danny Lasoski holds the track record of 16.383 seconds set on May 27, 2003.
* QUALIFYING EVENT WINNERS: Heat race winners included: Mean 15 drivers Jeremy Campbell, Justin Henderson, and Joey Saldana. -- Davey Sammons won the B-Main. -- Donny Schatz picked up the win in the dash.
* FEATURE WINNERS: There have been 14 different winners in 36 A-feature events to visit the RacinSoles Victory Lane with the World of Outlaws this season. The win list includes: Donny Schatz (March 9 at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 31 at Batesville Speedway, April 1 at I-55 Raceway, May 16 at Grandview Speedway, May 30 at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park, June 18 at Red River Valley Speedway, June 30 at 81 Speedway, July 18 at Lernerville Speedway, and July 23 at Lebanon Valley Speedway), Joey Saldana (Feb. 10 at Volusia, June 4 at Terre Haute, June 23 at Knoxville Raceway, July 1 at Dodge City Raceway Park, July 13 at Limaland Motorsports Park, and July 15 at Eldora Speedway), Jac Haudenschild (May 6 at U.S. 36 Raceway, May 20 at Sharon Speedway, June 14 at The Raceway @ Powercom Park, and July 7 at Lawrenceburg Speedway), Craig Dollansky (April 15 at Tri-State Speedway, June 4 at Eldora Speedway, and July 14 at Eldora Speedway), Brooke Tatnell (May 7 at Huset's Speedway, May 29 at Orange County Fair Speedway, and July 8 at I-55 Raceway), Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway) and Dean Jacobs (May 31 at Lernerville Speedway), Daryn Pittman (June 10 at Eagle Raceway and July 22 at Williams Grove), Sammy Swindell (April 8 at Eldora Speedway and March 10 at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway), Fred Rahmer (May 27 at Williams Grove), Paul McMahan (March 4 at USA Race Park), Danny Lasoski (March 3 at Manzanita), Chad Kemenah (Feb. 9 at Volusia), Kevin Swindell (May 24 at The Dirt and Terry McCarl (July 3 at Huset's Speedway).
* PRELIMINARY FEATURE WINNERS: There have been six preliminary features run this season by the World of Outlaws. The winners list included: Donny Schatz who won the prelim night June 17 at Red River Valley, Fred Rahmer, who won the prelim night on May 26 at Williams Grove Speedway and Sammy Swindell, who won the prelim night on April 7 at Eldora Speedway, Daryn Pittman who won the prelim night at Eagle Raceway on June 9, Terry McCarl who won the prelim night at Williams Grove on July 20, and Craig Dollansky who won the prelim night at Williams Grove on July 21.
* HALF-MILE WINNERS: Lebanon Valley Speedway is a half-mile oval. The World of Outlaws Sprint Series has now raced 17 times this season on half-mile tracks, including preliminary features. Winners include: Joey Saldana (Volusia, Terre Haute, Knoxville, and Eldora), Donny Schatz (Las Vegas, twice at Red River Valley, and Lebanon Valley), Chad Kemenah (Volusia), Danny Lasoski (Manzanita), Craig Dollansky (Twice at Eldora and Williams Grove), Sammy Swindell (Las Vegas and twice at Eldora Speedway), Terry McCarl (Williams Grove), and Daryn Pittman (Williams Grove).
* ON TELEVISION: The Outdoor Channel will air at 8 p.m. (ET) on July 26 the Knight Before the Kings Royal from Eldora Speedway. The Outdoor Channel is available nationwide through the DISH Network (Channel 153) and DIRECTV (Channel 606).