Donny Schatz powers to World of Outlaws Sprint Series A-feature win at Grays Harbor Elma, WA -- August 27, 2005 -- Watching Donny Schatz power his way through the field Saturday night at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, Wash., was like watching a...
Donny Schatz powers to World of Outlaws Sprint Series A-feature win at Grays Harbor
Elma, WA -- August 27, 2005 -- Watching Donny Schatz power his way through the field Saturday night at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, Wash., was like watching a mountain climber finally stake a flag in a peak. A checkered flag.
Sure, Schatz had four victories coming into the World of Outlaws Sprint Series A-feature, but two weeks ago he just missed reaching the summit at the Knoxville Nationals and last weekend he dominated at Billings before a mechanical failure two laps from the top socked him hard.
He wasn't disheartened by the near-misses, instead he was satisfied in knowing his reshuffled team with Ricky Warner and Dion Hindi were close to finally having a reason to celebrate.
Schatz knew in his heat race, after nearly splitting Tim Shaffer and Paul McMahan, he had a car that could win the main event, but starting ninth in a 40-lap race with Steve Kinser on the pole would be a tough climb.
Schatz motored his ParkerStore J&J deep into every corner, picking off car after car and sliding past Brooke Tatnell for second with 28 laps down and setting his sights on Kinser in front of the largest crowd in Grays Harbor history. He closed hard on the Outlaws points leader with 10 laps to go. Kinser was locked to the bottom in his Quaker State Maxim, but it didn't matter to Schatz. He powered his way around Kinser and grabbed the lead as they completed Lap 37.
Once in front, Schatz kept pushing and held off Kinser to earn his fifth A-feature victory of the season. Tatnell finished third in his Bombardier Eagle ahead of Terry McCarl's Big Game Treestands Eagle and Joey Saldana's Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Maxim. Knoxville Nationals champion Kraig Kinser in his Remy Maxim, Jason Sides in his Wetherington Tractor Services Maxim, Danny Lasoski in his Bass Pro Shops Eagle, Daryn Pittman in his Titan Garages and Carports Maxim and Jason Meyers in his Elite Landscaping Maxim rounded out the top 10.
"The car was really decent," said Schatz, a Mean 15 racer from Fargo, N.D., who is only 17 points out of fifth-place in the Outlaws championship standings. "[Friday] night was a learning experience. I'm working with some new guys and they understand things very well so it gave us a chance [Friday] night to come back tonight and adjust our car. We did the same thing in Billings last weekend. We spent the first night trying to get good and the second night we were good. It was awful exciting to be that decent. To come from ninth and race the way we did, the racecar was just better, plain, flat and simple. They guys did a great job. They worked on this thing awful hard on the five days off that we had. That's the difference. We're getting our program switched around, getting our engines running really good and as long as Hoosier continues to build a great tire we're going to be in good shape."
Kinser was strong all night after easily earning the pole with a victory in the Stacker 2 Dash. He raced out to a big lead while the action behind him heated up. Kinser was strong on the bottom and was going to force anybody who caught him to go to the outside. With three grooves on the racy 3/8-mile oval, Schatz was able to go low, then slide up the track before settling in the middle line for his power move to the front.
"Steve was really good on the bottom," Schatz said. "I showed my nose underneath him once just to kind of mess with him a little bit and he thought I was going to be there and he just wouldn't give that bottom up and we were actually better in the middle of the racetrack. I knew when we were five car lengths behind him and I pulled up next to him going into Turn 3, that's really where the difference was. The car was so good in the middle of the racetrack on entry that anybody could have driven it. Race cars don't get that good that often so you have to eat it up when you can.
"I didn't know if we could get that far up starting ninth, but the race car was that good and we made the right tire selection. Everything kind of fell into the place just right. We hit lapped traffic, I honestly believe that's what cost us the Knoxville Nationals, not being able to race in lapped traffic."
With the race going green from a Lap 9 restart to the checkered flag, traffic was definitely a factor. The track allowed for racing from top to bottom with the top 10 cars sliding back in forth in each corner. The traffic at various points held up the leaders, but Kinser said his car wasn't quite able to cut through smoothly, which allowed Tatnell to close first and eventually Schatz.
"I was getting a little bit loose,'' said Kinser, who has a 474-point lead in his quest for a 20th Outlaws championship. "I couldn't roll around the middle at all when I needed to when I got to the lapped cars. I just heated the right rear tire up. I should have tightened it up a little bit better, I just got a little too conservative."
With a loose car, Kinser wasn't able to take advantage of the various racing lines. He kept his car on the bottom, one time actually going up and over the inner berm off of Turn 4 to put a car a lap down. So when Schatz, whose car was handling perfectly on nearly every inch of the racing surface, put his front wing under Kinser's car, Kinser made sure he wasn't going to let him by on the inside. That's when Schatz slid back up the track and went around the outside of Kinser at the flagstand.
"I knew I was getting in a little bit of trouble," Kinser said. "He showed himself once and I knew he was there, I just didn't quite get the job done. He had to be running pretty good to run us down and come up from where he started."
Brooke Tatnell hopes his team's third-place run sparks his Rush Racing machine back to a strong streak like the one he was on in late July and August when he finished first or second on three of the four race nights heading into the Knoxville Nationals. Plus, his showing Saturday in the A-feature at Elma was a boost for his Washington-based owners.
"Our car owners were disappointed for us as a team Friday night and we were disappointed to disappoint in front of their home crowd," said Tatnell, who wound up 18th in the preliminary feature. "There isn't a car owner out here that has put as much into promotion as these guys have. To last night walk away, I said running second was like kissing your sister, Friday night was like kissing your brother. It was terrible. But we bounced back and took it up to Steve for a little bit. I don't know if I used up my tires trying to get by a lapped car or not, but Schatz also took a gamble. When you're running third or fourth, you've got to roll the dice. We weren't close enough to Steve to roll that dice so we kept on plugging away. Third place is better than the four DNFs we had over the four previous nights through flat tires and bits and pieces.
"I can't say enough about our team. From our car owners and their families to all the crew and their families, I'm proud to be plugging away. We'll get this back on a roll. We went 20 races with top-10 finishes, now we've got to start again."
McCarl wrapped up a solid weekend with a fourth-place run after challenging Tatnell for second during much of the race. McCarl, who won a Northern Sprint Tour event on Thursday at Grays Harbor and finished third in the preliminary feature, is aiming to remain in the Top 10 in points for the rest of the season.
"It was a really good track and it was a game of inches out there," said McCarl, of Altoona, Iowa. "I was just a little bit too loose in the middle where I had to run to try to get Steve. I wasn't worried about Tatnell, I was trying to win the race, and Brooke snuck underneath us. I got him back a couple of times in the middle but if I turned the wheel a little too much I'd lose it. We were just a shade too loose. To get another top-five and keep finishing the season strong, we're pretty happy with the car and the team."
Joey Saldana quietly raced to his 11th top-five in an A-feature. He avoided the back-and-forth action of Tatnell and McCarl by running near the fence to keep his momentum going and held his ground the entire event.
"We've had nothing but motor problems all year," said Saldana, a Mean 15 racer from Brownsburg, Ind. "We put another motor in tonight and it was the difference between night and day. [Friday] we were 15th quick and ran 12th and tonight we were second quick and ran fifth. That's what a motor means out here. It means everything. I think if we would have run better [Friday] we wouldn't have been chasing our car so much tonight. It was a good, solid run for us."
Saldana's run, as well as Schatz's, were just another example of how important the qualifying events are to finishing well in World of Outlaws features.
"It's everything," Saldana said. "I realize Schatz started ninth and [Daryn] Pittman started ninth last week [and won at Billings], that happens, but nine times out of 10, you put Steve Kinser on the pole it takes an exceptional night from somebody out here to beat the guy. Schatz was on tonight, but realistically if he wouldn't have been on or Pittman wasn't on the other night, Steve would have won two more races. You just got to come out here and qualify good and you have to be up front. If you're up front, something good will happen, but when we've been up front we've had everything happen to us to knock us out. I'll take a top-five and hopefully we can run better at Cottage Grove."
The World of Outlaws Sprint Series continues the Wild, Wild Northwest Tour on Aug. 30 at Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Ore., where last season Kraig Kinser earned his first career World of Outlaws A-feature victory. The Outlaws then head down the West Coast Sept. 2-4 to Calistoga Speedway for the Harvest Classic.
GRAYS HARBOR RACEWAY NOTEBOOK
* Brooke Tatnell paced the 42 cars that went through time trials by turning an AMB i.t.-timed lap around the 3/8-mile oval in 11.998 seconds at 112.519 mph. Joey Saldana was the second quickest with a 12.090-second, 111.683-mph lap. Craig Dollansky established the single-lap record of 11.915 seconds on Aug. 27, 2004.
* By virtue of finishing in the top four in Friday's preliminary feature, Steve Kinser, Jonathan Allard, Terry McCarl and Shane Stewart advanced directly to the top four spots in the Stacker 2® Dash and were joined by Brooke Tatnell and Joey Saldana as the two fastest drivers on Saturday. In the Dash, Kinser jumped out to a quick lead and drove away to the checkered flag to grab his third pole position in the past five race nights and his 11th pole of the year.
* Following heat race action, many of the World of Outlaws drivers showed their support for Northern Sprint Tour racer Ron Reed, who was seriously injured in a crash Thursday night at Grays Harbor Raceway requiring neck surgery on Friday. The drivers entered the packed grandstands and assisted in a collection that raised more than $10,000 to benefit Reed. In addition, a go-kart race Saturday afternoon in which Kevin Rudeen and Daryn Pittman raced to a finish so close a tie was declared helped to raise more than $800 in less than 20 minutes with half of the funds going to the drivers' benevolent fund and the other half to Reed.
* Donny Schatz's victory Saturday at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, Wash., was his fifth this season. -- Steve Kinser has a series-leading 17 A-feature victories to go with three preliminary night wins. -- Shane Stewart won the second preliminary A-main Aug. 12 at Knoxville Raceway, visiting Victory Lane with the Outlaws for the first time this season and making him the 22nd different driver to do so. There have been 16 different A-feature winners. -- Kraig Kinser captured the Knoxville Nationals on Aug. 14 for his sixth A-feature victory of the season. He also has a preliminary feature win at Las Vegas. -- Jason Meyers earned his fourth win of the season July 2 at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, N.D. -- Tim Shaffer's victory July 19 in the Silver Cup was his third of the season, going with wins Lake Ozark Speedway and Thunderbowl Raceway. -- Craig Dollansky has won two features, most recently at Powercom Park, and he also has two preliminary feature wins. -- Brian Paulus won June 28 at Huset's Speedway for his second victory of the season, and picked up a preliminary feature win in the following race at Red River Valley Speedway. -- Brooke Tatnell has two A-feature victories, winning at Cedar Lake and Fulton speedways, as well as a preliminary feature win at Princeton Speedway. -- Sammy Swindell won his second A-feature of the season June 4 at Eldora Speedway. Swindell also has a preliminary feature win April 8 at Eldora and Aug. 14 at Knoxville Raceway in the Nationals' non-qualifiers event. -- Daryn Pittman won his second A-feature of the season Aug. 21 at BMP Speedway in Billings, Mont. -- Fred Rahmer won the Summer Nationals crown July 23 and picked up a preliminary feature win in the Knoxville Nationals on Aug. 10. -- Single-event winners include Jac Haudenschild on Aug. 5 at Eldora Speedway, Stevie Smith July 13 at Attica Raceway Park, Tim Kaeding June 11 at Sheboygan County Fair Park, Chad Kemenah July 9 at I-55 Raceway, and Jeff Shepard Feb. 11 at Volusia Speedway Park. -- In preliminary features, Danny Lasoski has won twice while Joey Saldana, Paul McMahan and Jason Johnson have each won once.
* Grays Harbor Raceway is a high-banked 3/8-mile oval. Including preliminaries, the series has raced 13 times this season on tracks that length, at Pike County Speedway, Houston Raceway Park, Batesville Speedway, Outlaw Motor Speedway, 81 Speedway, Huset's Speedway, Cedar Lake Speedway, Attica Raceway Park, Fulton Speedway, BMP Speedway and Grays Harbor Raceway. Steve Kinser held off Brooke Tatnell to win at Pike County, Donny Schatz edged Steve Kinser at Houston, Kraig Kinser dominated at Batesville, Steve Kinser snuck past Jason Meyers late at Outlaw, Daryn Pittman cruised to victory at 81 Speedway, Jason Meyers outlasted the field at Sharon, Brian Paulus started on the pole and won at Huset's, Brooke Tatnell picked up his first win of the year at Cedar Lake and his second at Fulton, Stevie Smith won at Attica, Daryn Pittman won the feature and Steve Kinser won the preliminary at BMP Speedway, and Donny Schatz won the feature and Steve Kinser won the preliminary at Grays Harbor.
* Drivers who have raced to victory in preliminary features this season include (in alphabetical order) Craig Dollansky twice (Manzanita/Williams Grove), Jason Johnson once (Williams Grove), Kraig Kinser once (Las Vegas), Steve Kinser three times (Eagle/Billings/Elma), Danny Lasoski twice (Australia/Knoxville), Kerry Madsen once (Australia), Paul McMahan once (Williams Grove), Brian Paulus once (Red River Valley), Fred Rahmer once (Knoxville), Joey Saldana once (Lernerville), Shane Stewart once (Knoxville), Brooke Tatnell once (Princeton), Sammy Swindell twice (Eldora/Knoxville).
* After a series of cautions in the B-main, Toni Lutar and Shawn Rice charged out to the lead with five laps down as Travis Rutz shot into a transfer spot after starting sixth. Rice slid to the lead on Lap 9 and pulled away to the checkered flag as Lutar held on to finish second with Rutz and Barry Martinez earning the final positions in the A-main grid. Henry Van Dam and Roy Blumenhagen transferred to the rear of the B-main lineup after finishing in the top two spots in the C-main.
* In the first heat, Jac Haudenschild grabbed the lead in the first corner but Jason Meyers was too strong on the top and powered his way into the lead one lap later. Fast qualifier Brooke Tatnell and Washington native Jason Solwold motored around directly behind Meyers and Haudenschild as those four pulled away from the field. On a restart with two laps to go, Meyers quickly shot back to the top then cut to the bottom and held off Haudenschild to win the race. Haudenschild, Tatnell and Solwold all transferred to the A-main.
* In the second heat, Brandon Wimmer charged to the lead and slid up in front of Danny Lasoski in Turn 2 and was driving away from Lasoski, Joey Saldana and Brian Paulus when a caution waved just after the white appeared. While the top three were secure in their positions, Paulus was left to fend off track record holder Craig Dollansky for the final transfer spot. With one to go Paulus went as high as he could in Turn 4 but Dollansky somehow found just enough space to slip into fourth and hold on to the transfer position.
* In the third heat, Roger Crockett and Tim Kaeding swapped the lead for the first several laps before Crockett, the pole-sitter for the preliminary A-main on Friday, took charge and drove away to the checkered flag. Kaeding wound up second with Daryn Pittman and Kraig Kinser earning the final transfer spots to the feature.
* The fourth heat featured some of the most incredible racing all weekend as Tim Shaffer shot out to the lead in the high groove, Paul McMahan raced into second on the bottom and Donny Schatz made it three-wide charging right through the middle. The top three slid up and down and used every inch of the racing surface before a caution waved for Marc Huson's spinning car in Turn 4. Shaffer, Schatz and McMahan picked right back up on the restart with Jason Sides joining the battle. Shaffer on to win with Schatz, McMahan and Sides earning the transfer spots.
* The World of Outlaws Sprint Series continues the Wild, Wild Northwest Tour on Aug. 30 at Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Ore., where last season Kraig Kinser earned his first career World of Outlaws A-feature victory. The Outlaws then head down the West Coast Sept. 2-4 to Calistoga Speedway for the Harvest Classic.
* The Outdoor Channel will air on Aug. 31 the race at BMP Speedway and Sept. 7 the event at Grays Harbor Raceway.