Donny Schatz Wraps Up Back-to-Back World of Outlaws Wins With I-55 Win Two World of Outlaws events. Two huge fields of cars. Two victories for Donny Schatz. The Mean 15 racer from Fargo, N.D., powered his way to one of the most successful ...
Donny Schatz Wraps Up Back-to-Back World of Outlaws Wins With I-55 Win
Two World of Outlaws events. Two huge fields of cars. Two victories for Donny Schatz.
The Mean 15 racer from Fargo, N.D., powered his way to one of the most successful weekends of his career, wrapping up back-to-back victories with an impressive win Saturday night at high-banked I-55 Raceway a night after putting his ParkerStore J&J into the RacinSoles Victory Lane at Batesville Speedway.
Schatz swept into the lead Saturday night and weaved through lapped traffic, darting high, low and even right through the middle of the track to capture the checkered flag in the 40-lap feature, topping a field of 55 cars only a few hours after getting the best of a 39-car field in Arkansas. For his efforts during the two nights, Schatz pocketed $20,000.
Pole-sitter Terry McCarl shot out to a quick lead but Schatz motored to the front as the two came around Turn 4. Schatz screamed toward Turn 1 in front of the packed grandstands and carried his momentum to the top on the racy 1/3-mile oval.
The two took different lines, but Schatz was so smooth through traffic he was able to extend his advantage on each lap. Then McCarl was changing lines with nine laps to go to try to hold off Joey Saldana when he caught a barrier below the bottom groove heading into Turn 2. The contact was enough to send McCarl to the pits, giving Saldana a chance to go after Schatz in the Central Merchant Services JEI. But Schatz was strong all night and with a buffer of lapped cars between his machine and Saldana's car, Schatz again was able to charge out and hold on in traffic for the first World of Outlaws victory in his career at I-55 Raceway.
Schatz's third victory of the season helped extend his lead in the championship standings to 49 points.
Saldana, who started sixth, worked through traffic to post his fourth top-five run of the season while Craig Dollansky came from 11th on the grid to finish third in the Karavan Trailers Maxim for his second consecutive top five. Jac Haudenschild pushed his Wright One Construction Maxim right off the wall to finish fourth while Daryn Pittman surged all the way from 23rd to fifth by running the high groove in the Titan Garages & Carports Maxim.
Brooke Tatnell raced from 21st to sixth in the Garlic Jim's Pizza/Castrol Eagle while Jason Solwold in the City Wide Insulation Maxim, Sammy Swindell in the Volcano Joe's Coffee Maxim, Chad Kemenah in the Underground Utilities Inc. Eagle and Kerry Madsen in the TK Concrete Cool rounded out the top 10.
Despite how smoothly he was pushing through the traffic, Schatz never relaxed during the 40-lap event.
"I always race as hard as I can without getting myself in trouble," said Schatz, the 1997 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year. "Some nights you just start closer to the front than others. We were lucky enough to qualify well tonight and they drew the "0" for the Dash. It went against us four times that way, it's about time it went our direction.
"We had the best car and I just kept going. I didn't make any foolish mistakes. The racecar was good and could go anywhere."
Reworking the racetrack following qualifying events proved to be worth it as cars raced on nearly every inch of the high-banked oval.
"It was a question to everybody as to what the racetrack was going to do," Schatz said. "They got all that rubber off and redid the track. I can't thank them enough for doing that. It made a great, slick surface. You could run the top, the bottom. It really made lapped traffic fun. It made me utilize parts of the racetrack I never expected would happen here. I was able to split guys in the middle of the track when they were on top and bottom. When you can do that, you know you're racecar is really good. Hopefully we can take this momentum to Eldora and be this way next weekend."
Saldana is excited about the continued success of his new team on the World of Outlaws circuit, especially as the series prepares to compete next weekend at historic Eldora Speedway.
"From starting sixth, McCarl, Sammy and I were racing pretty hard for second," said Saldana, a Mean 15 racer from Brownsburg, Ind. "We had a good car. Terry was trying hard and just clipped his front end. Right before that I was getting a good run on the bottom. There was an opening between Turns 1 and 2 and if you cut it too much you can get your tire in there. He just got his left front in there and knocked his front end out. He was kind of sliding across, but he wasn't driving up off the corner. His just misjudged it, but I got him to do that by running the bottom.
"We had a good car. I couldn't get through lapped traffic as good as Schatz, he was really strong tonight. He's been doing this for quite a while so he knows what he needs. We've got a new team and we're trying to be competitive every night, have top fives. Then you'll be in that league that Schatz is in right now. If we keep this up and learn from what we did tonight, hopefully we can build on this for the rest of the year."
Saldana, who finished third in points in 2003, is pushing hard to better that mark in the this season. His runner-up finish Saturday night moved him into second in the championship standings.
"For me, I've finished third in points before," Saldana said. "I want to beat Schatz or whoever just to know I've done better than what I did in the past. This is a good opportunity this year for someone to capitalize on their ability and their team. For us, it's an all-new team and Schatz has been doing it for a while. For us to come out here and just be competitive with Schatz is a sign of what's to come from this team."
Dollansky is in a similar situation. He has assembled a new crew this season with Eric Prutzman, Troy Dollansky and Matt Hill and clearly this weekend they made significant strides toward contending for a title.
"After Las Vegas, we definitely weren't too happy with the first six nights of racing and knew we had to go back to the drawing board," said Dollansky, a Mean 15 racer from Elk River, Minn., who came from 13th to finish fourth on Friday night at Batesville Speedway. "We went to Scott Benic's shop and he really helped us dig into this project to get things on track. We brought Eric in and he's doing a great job working alongside my brother Troy and Matt. The last two nights are definitely encouraging. It's back to the way things need to be. The racecar is feeling really good to me. We have a little ways to go yet, but once we begin starting up front a little more rather than having to come from mid-pack I think we'll be right there.
"I'm definitely feeling the momentum coming on. Things are clicking. We're getting some things figured out with the racecar and the shocks and different things. It's a long season. We have more than 70 races to go. We'll just keep working hard at it and see what we can do."
Haudenschild continues to try to deliver a victory to car owner Rick Wright. On Saturday, Haudenschild was in his element, using the wall as the cushion as he pushed his machine to the limit and came away with his third top-five of the season.
"It was fast all over," said Haudenschild, of Wooster, Ohio, who is geared up to return next week to Eldora Speedway where he has earned some of the most memorable victories of his career. "You could run anywhere on the track. The car was good. The motor was running good. We should be running good next week."
With as much traffic and as wild as the feature was Saturday night, Pittman turned in one of the most incredible runs this season when he put his machine on the top and charged along the wall from 23rd to fifth, posting his fourth top-five this season.
"I don't know if we've ever finished out of the top five here so we had to keep that up," said Pittman, a Mean 15 racer from Owasso, Okla. "This is probably one of my best racetracks. Our number didn't help us in qualifying and I had to start too far back. It's frustrating to work that hard just to get a top-five. We had an awesome racecar. My crew did a really good job. If we keep getting cars like that, we're going to win a lot of races. To finish off the weekend with a good run like that, it gives us the momentum and strength this week to go into Eldora and find out how good we are there."
Eldora Speedway is one of the most intimidating tracks on the circuit. A high-banked half-mile oval where World of Outlaws sprint cars reach some of their fastest speeds all season. Schatz has not won an A-feature event at Eldora, but he's looking to change that this weekend.
"I've been around long enough to know that a guy doesn't have to be confident, but I know when I come into these races that I'm a factor to win," Schatz said. "It doesn't matter whether or not I've run good at Eldora in the past, I'm going to Eldora next week and I'm going to be one of the guys to beat. We know we've got our motors running well. We just have to make the right decisions. We're excited to get there and hopefully put some victories up on the big half mile."
Following the back-to-back events this weekend at Batesville Speedway and I-55 Raceway, the World of Outlaws Mean 15 racers will invade historic Eldora Speedway for a two-day event presented by McDonald's on April 7-8 before racing in Indiana April 15 at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt and April 21 in the City of Lawrenceburg Sprint Nationals at Lawrenceburg Speedway near Cincinnati. The series closes out the month with races April 29 at legendary Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa, and April 30 at Huset's Speedway in Brandon, S.D.
The World of Outlaws Sprint Series is brought to the fans across the country by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors Hoosier Racing Tire and The Outdoor Channel. Promotional Partners include AMB i.t., Choice Hotels and The University of Northwestern Ohio. Contingency sponsors include DART Machinery, MSD Ignitions, and Wrisco Industries.
I-55 RACEWAY NOTEBOOK
FAST QUALIFIER: Terry McCarl paced the 55-car field in the Big Game Treestands Eagle with an AMB i.t.-timed lap around the 1/3-mile oval in 11.227 seconds at 106.903 mph. For his qualifying effort, McCarl earned five bonus points. The next four fastest qualifiers also earned bonus points, including Donny Schatz (4), Paul McMahan (3), Randy Hannagan (2) and Jac Haudenschild (1). Steve Smith's 10.189-second lap on March 30, 2002, still stands as the single-lap record.
VICTORY PARADE: Donny Schatz's victory Saturday night at I-55 Raceway was his third World of Outlaws victory this season. There have been six different racers in eight events to visit the RacinSoles Victory Lane with the World of Outlaws this season. In addition to Schatz's win Saturday night, he also won March 31 at Batesville Speedway and March 9 at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The win list also includes Sammy Swindell (March 10 at Las Vegas), Paul McMahan (March 4 at USA Race Park), Danny Lasoski (March 3 at Manzanita), Joey Saldana (Feb. 10 at Volusia) and Chad Kemenah (Feb. 9 at Volusia).
1/3-MILE WINNERS: I-55 Raceway is a 1/3-mile oval. Donny Schatz is the first winner this season on a 1/3-mile oval. In 2005, the World of Outlaws raced 14 times on tracks that size. Current Mean 15 racers accounted for five of those victories, with Craig Dollansky earning two wins and Chad Kemenah, Daryn Pittman and Schatz each picking up a victory, too.
QUALIFYING EVENTS: Terry McCarl and Donny Schatz captured the dashes. -- Paul McMahan won the B-main. -- Heat race winners included Daryn Pittman, Rob Chaney, Sammy Swindell and Jason Solwold. -- Tommy Worley Jr. won the C-main. -- D-main winners included Jim Moughan and A.J. Bruns