Schatz makes last corner pass to repeat in Kele World Challenge KNOXVILLE, IA - Donny Schatz certainly has a knack for making things exciting, and on Friday night, the crowd at the Mopar Parts Knoxville Nationals went wild when he made the final...
Schatz makes last corner pass to repeat in Kele World Challenge
KNOXVILLE, IA - Donny Schatz certainly has a knack for making things exciting, and on Friday night, the crowd at the Mopar Parts Knoxville Nationals went wild when he made the final corner pass to win the Kele World Challenge title.
"This is a race for the fans and I did everything I could to win it," said Schatz, who drove his #15 ParkerStore J&J to victory from his 14th starting position. "I wasn't sure we could get there about halfway through the race, but I caught Brad Furr and he was running around the top. I had to get by him, so I went to the bottom and got a great run and worked my way up there. This is awesome."
In the early stages of the race it didn't look like a driver could run from the back of the pack to win it as was the case for the past Kele World Challenge races when Danny Lasoski came from 12th to first in 2000 and Schatz from 14th to first last year. Polesitter Tommy Tarlton took the early lead and was chased by Friday's Preliminary Feature winner, PJ Chesson.
Australian standout, Brooke Tatnell, joined the fight up front and after Tarlton had mechanical problems, Chesson and Tatnell raced nose to tail for the top spot. Schatz wasn't able to race by a large number of cars to start the race, instead passing them one at a time. By lap 10, he was running sixth and getting a great drive off the bottom as the final six laps unfolded. With two laps to go, the Fargo, ND driver caught Tatnell and took second heading down the backstretch.
Chesson appeared to be simply hanging on in the latter stages and was forced to fight off a slide job from Schatz on the white flag lap in turn four. Schatz had one final lap to get the pass made and he set up Chesson going into turn three. He dove low in his #15 and slid up in front of Chesson to take the lead and raced down the frontstretch to the checkered flag.
"I wasn't sure if we were going to be able to do or not," continued Schatz, who is now the 2-time defending champion of three international events: The Warrnambool Classic, $50,000 Australian Summer Slam and the Kele World Challenge. "This is a big deal for a lot of reasons, but this race is meant to help make our sport grow. I get to race in great cars both in the US and Australia, but racing like this is really a lot of fun. I hope I can come back next year and defend my title."
Chesson held on for second ahead of Tatnell, Brent Antill, and 12th-starting Brad Furr came rounded out the top five.
KELE WORLD CHALLENGE 16 Laps 1. Donny Schatz. 2. P.J. Chesson. 3. Brooke Tatnell. 4. Brent Antill. 5. Brad Furr. 6. Lynton Jeffrey. 7. Jeff Shepard. 8. Tommy Tarlton. 9. Kerry Madsen. 10. Skip Jackson. 11. Ricky Logan. 12. Daryn Pittman. 13. Chad Kemenah. 14. Toni Lutar. 15. Danny Smith. 16. Dave Murcott. 17. Peter Murphy.