Local hero wins Duel in the Dakotas Preliminary WEST FARGO, ND (June 13) -- Donny Schatz could have easily allowed pressure and superstition to hamper his performance in the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series' second preliminary program of...
Local hero wins Duel in the Dakotas Preliminary
WEST FARGO, ND (June 13) -- Donny Schatz could have easily allowed pressure and superstition to hamper his performance in the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series' second preliminary program of the Sixth Annual Duel in the Dakotas at Red River Valley Speedway.
Instead, the defending event champion ignored the full moon over Fargo on Friday the 13th and treated his hometown fans to a flag-to-flag victory to claim the outside pole position in Saturday's main event.
"We really needed a strong finish tonight to get locked in for tomorrow night," Schatz said. "My guys gave me a perfect race car. It would go pretty much anywhere I wanted to run on the track. The track had gotten a few rough spots in the turns as it dried out compared to what we dealt with last night. Getting just the right suspension setup is tricky because if you soften the car up too much to try to get through the bumps, you can get too much bounce in the shocks that will cause them to bind up and ultimately make the car tighter and not turn like it should. We hit the right combination giving me the ability to run high or low to get through traffic. That is our advantage running J&J Chassis.
"As far as winning this race, the monkey is off our back after winning last year. But my mind set is no different that it is any other race. I just want to win. It's much sweeter and a great thrill to win in front of your hometown fans."
Schatz, the second-fastest qualifier, finished second in the Second Heat Race and earned the right to start the evening's main event outside the front row by winning the Second Dash Race. The 1997 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year led all 25 laps for his second Preliminary Feature victory of the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series' 25th Anniversary Season.
Schatz drove his #15 Parker Stores J&J into the lead as the green flag fell in the feature. Sammy Swindell, the fastest qualifier in both Duel in the Dakotas preliminary programs, passed pole-sitter Kraig Kinser for second place early in the opening lap.
Mark Kinser, who started outside the fourth row, raced past Tim Shaffer and Daryn Pittman, then exchanged fifth place with Jason Meyers during the second and third laps. Meyers rode the rim around the two-time series champion, only to have Kinser steer the #5M Sabko Maxim into the low groove between turns one and two.
The leaders were approaching lapped traffic when a magneto malfunction caused Brian Paulus to stop on the front straightaway late in lap four. Mark Kinser chased Kraig Kinser for a lap after the race resumed before passing him for fourth place deep in the second corner.
Schatz was 15 car-lengths ahead of Swindell when he entered lapped traffic during the seventh lap.
Meyers steered the #7 VMAC Maxim into the low groove in turn one to pass Kraig Kinser for fifth place early in the 15th lap.
Steve Kinser, who won Thursday's Preliminary Feature, took the low line through the fourth corner to pass Swindell for the runner-up spot two laps later. Swindell, winner of six O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series "A" Features at Red River Valley Speedway, surrendered third place when the engine in the #1 Ore-Cal/Beef Packers J&J lost power late in the 19th lap.
Schatz controlled the ensuing restart, and opened a 15-car-length advantage on Kinser within five laps. "The King of the Outlaws" caught Schatz in dense lapped traffic one lap later, however, and almost stole the victory with an inside move in turn four as they headed for the checkered flag. Less than a car-length separated Schatz and Kinser as the crossed the finish line.
"Steve has won a bunch of races -- that's why they call him 'The King,'" Schatz said. "After that late-race yellow, I was just trying to no do anything stupid. I didn't know how the tires were going to react after they cooled down. I saw Steve beside me there, and I just got back onto it as hard as I could. It's great to come here and win tonight, but tomorrow's the one we really want."
Mark Kinser finished in third place, ahead of Meyers, 13th-starting Danny Lasoski, Paul McMahan, Kraig Kinser, Tim Shaffer and Joey Saldana.
Brooke Tatnell suffered an ankle injury when a U-joint on the #66 Trop-Artic Maxim broke during his qualifying lap. After being examined by the safety crew, the Australian driver raced past 15 cars to finish 10th in the evening's main event.