Donny Schatz Wins National Open Preliminary MECHANICSBURG, PA (October 3) -- Donny Schatz took a big step toward his second Cleveland Brothers National Open championship Friday by winning the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series Preliminary ...
Donny Schatz Wins National Open Preliminary
MECHANICSBURG, PA (October 3) -- Donny Schatz took a big step toward his second Cleveland Brothers National Open championship Friday by winning the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series Preliminary Feature at Williams Grove Speedway.
Schatz, who won the 2000 National Open and the Summer Nationals in July, led all 25 laps from the pole to claim the pole position in Saturday's Dash Race. The 1997 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year has won five Preliminary Features during the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series' 25th Anniversary Season.
"We're really glad to be locked into Saturday's Dash Race," Schatz said. "We have always liked Williams Grove and have done well here in the past. We just picked up where we left off in July.
"My car was perfect. (Crew chief) Tyler (Swank) made all the right choices. He and Chad (Lambert) worked hard to give me a great car. This is the toughest competition we face all year long.
"Getting a great starting position really helped. It's really important to get out front here early. Luckily, lapped traffic wasn't much of an issue tonight."
Schatz, the seventh-fastest qualifier in the 49-car field, earned the privilege of starting the feature on the pole by winning his 11th Dash Race of the year. Donny drove his #15 Parker Stores J&J into the lead as the green flag fell and immediately started building a comfortable advantage.
Sammy Swindell, who has won eight "A" Features at Williams Grove Speedway, passed Joey Saldana and fellow Tennesseean Jason Sides during the second and third laps to take over fifth place.
Schatz was approaching lapped traffic late in the sixth lap when Adrian Shaffer spun in turn three. Saldana steered his family's #17 Eagle Raceway Maxim into the low groove in the second corner to pass Sides for sixth place as the green flag replaced the yellow.
Keith Kauffman passed O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series points leader Steve Kinser for third place with a high move through turn two early in lap eight.
Schatz was four car-lengths ahead of outside pole-sitter Greg Hodnett when he entered lapped traffic early in the 13th lap. Hodnett, the series' 1993 Rookie of the Year, raced wheel-to-wheel with Schatz through the first and second corners three laps later, but was unable to surge ahead.
Jason Meyers, who won Thursday's main event at Port Royal Speedway, collided with Fourth Heat Race winner Len Thompson in turn three late in lap 18. First Heat Race winner Tim Shaffer hit Meyers and Thompson, flipped and collected Hodnett.
Saldana, Sides and defending National Open champion Lance Dewease raced past Swindell for the fourth, fifth and sixth positions during the 20th, 21st and 22nd laps. Sides was trying to complete a slide move on Saldana during lap 23 when Dewease passed him on the back stretch for the fifth position.
Schatz was 12 car-lengths ahead of Kauffman when he took the checkered flag. Dewease claimed the final automatic qualifying position in Saturday's Dash Race by pulling off a last-lap pass of Saldana in the fourth corner.
Kinser's third-place finish increased his O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series points lead to 88 points over Danny Lasoski, who finished 13th. Lasoski paced the qualifying session with a 107.598-M.P.H. lap around the legendary ½-mile oval, but was forced to qualify for the evening's main event through the "B" Feature when he finished eighth in the First Heat Race.
Dewease finished the Preliminary Feature in fourth place, ahead of Saldana, Sides, Paul McMahan, 13th-starting Daryn Pittman, Swindell and Fred Rahmer.
Mark Kinser, racing with the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series for the first time since the Ford Dealers of Iowa Knoxville Nationals, passed eight cars to finish 15th. Don Kreitz, Jr., the 1993 National Open champion, raced into 16th place from outside the 12th row.