Joliet race report 2005-07-08

Schatz Rolls At Route 66 for Fourth World of Outlaws Sprint Series Win of the Season Joliet, IL -- July 8, 2005 -- Whether it was relief, joy or a sense of accomplishment, the usually stoic Donny Schatz finally cracked a smile Friday night in ...

Schatz Rolls At Route 66 for Fourth World of Outlaws Sprint Series Win of the Season

Joliet, IL -- July 8, 2005 -- Whether it was relief, joy or a sense of accomplishment, the usually stoic Donny Schatz finally cracked a smile Friday night in Victory Lane at Route 66 Raceway after winning his fourth World of Outlaws Sprint Series A-feature of the season.

Schatz started on the outside of Row 2, powered into second in Turn 3, charged into the lead on a Lap 12 restart and outlasted everybody to win for the first time since March 19 at Baytown, Texas.

Since Schatz nearly pulled off a victory last week at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, N.D., leading with three laps to go when a burnt coil wire caused the engine to shut off, he has finished in the top-five twice and in the top-10 three times.

"We came here to win," said Schatz, a Mean 15 racer from Fargo whose struggles in April and May led him to shuffle his crew. "We probably weren't the best working car out there tonight, but everything went fairly smooth. We had a rear end problem after the Dash and got that fixed. Everybody has worked awful hard to get these things going. It's a big booster to get it back in Victory Lane and even see what that tastes like, I guess. We need that so we remember what's going on here and what's important. Fargo helped us, we had a few decent runs since then and now we finally got a win."

Brooke Tatnell was second, followed by Shane Stewart, Steve Kinser and fast-qualifier Chad Kemenah.

The feature at Route 66 also was the opener of the five-race March to the Mean 15 that will determine the newest team to enter the elite group of sprint car racers. All four eligible teams finished in the top 10 Friday night. Tatnell was second, Stewart third, Terry McCarl seventh and Jason Solwold ninth. The team that accumulates the most points in five full-points events beginning with last night's race at Route 66 will be awarded the opening with the Mean 15 racers.

"I saw Shane on the pole and we were back in eighth so I thought, 'We better do something here or he's going to gain some points,'" said Tatnell, a native of San Souci, New South Wales, Australia, who won Monday at Cedar Lake Speedway. "We just got to race the butt off this car. We had a great car. It was maneuverable. That was probably the one thing that was better for us than a lot of the guys. Everyone could be the same speed on the race-line but I could actually move around. It was an awesome deal."

But the 30-lap race Friday night belonged to Schatz. Running in second behind outside pole-sitter Brian Paulus, Schatz dove to the inside on a single-file restart from a caution with ll laps down. He easily made the pass and worked his way through traffic.

"I had a run and I went," said Schatz, who also has Outlaws victories this season at Parramatta City Raceway in Australia, Las Vegas and Baytown, Texas. "It was a good clean pass, I slid him and kept on going. Once the fuel load came off the car, the racecar got good, as it normally has been doing the past couple of years. It's kind of back to how it used to feel. Hopefully we can keep doing it, that's the hard part now."

A series of cautions, including a red flag for Craig Dollansky who flipped when his right rear let go and another for fuel, couldn't prevent Schatz from finally returning to Victory Lane. He easily motored back to the lead on each restart, knowing the only chance his pursuers had to catch him was in traffic. Therefore, he didn't have much time to fret over whether or not he might be the next driver to hit a piece of debris that could damage one of his tires.

"You can't worry about something like that," Schatz said. "It's either going to happen or it isn't. I had a little softer tires, but they felt really good. You can kind of feel them going down and I never felt anything. You just don't worry about it. I know a lot of guys had troubles, but we just crossed our fingers and tonight was our lucky night."

The cautions might have ultimately aided Schatz because with each restart he had clear track in front of him. When the final yellow flag waved with five laps to go, Tatnell knew he wasn't going to have much of a chance of catching or passing Schatz.

"It would take us about three laps to get up to him and the lapped traffic was going to be our only savior to get him on those last restarts because he was as good as what we were, and Shane was probably as good as what I was on the high line," Tatnell said. "It was a matter of trying to get to lapped traffic. When I saw Dollansky blow his tire and flip [in Turn 3] I didn't want to get up high in that end just in case you run over some debris. It wasn't until the last three laps that I even thought about a flat tire."

For Stewart, his third-place run is his second consecutive top-five finish and the fourth top-10 on the past four race nights. It also keeps him in the chase for the March to the Mean 15.

"It's going to be tough," said Stewart, a former Outlaws winner from Bixby, Okla., who is leading the battle for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award. "My guys have been working hard all year long. I really want to get them a win. I have to work on my lapped traffic maneuvering a little bit. It actually hurt me a couple of nights ago and it hurt me again tonight. It's one of those things you have to learn racing with these Outlaws guys. You can't let up when you get in lapped traffic, you have to keep up your momentum. I've got a good car owner and a great group of guys back in Washington that supports me. We had a good showing for them and I hope they were listening on the Internet."

Among the rest of the racers who made big strides in the 24-car field were points-leader Steve Kinser, who raced from ninth to fourth and Tim Kaeding, who charged from 23rd to eighth.

The Outlaws race Saturday night at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo., near St. Louis, before heading back East next week for the Brad Doty Classic July 13 at Attica Raceway Park.

THE MARCH TO THE MEAN 15

On the first night of the March to the Mean 15, a series of five races featuring Brooke Tatnell, Shane Stewart, Terry McCarl and Jason Solwold to fill a recently created opening in the Mean 15, all four drivers finished the feature in the top 10. Here are the standings after the first of five events:

ROUTE 66 NOTEBOOK

* In the Stacker 2® Dash to set the inside top six rows of the A-main, Shane Stewart grabbed the lead and held off fast-qualifier Chad Kemenah to earn the pole for the main event. Danny Lasoski was third as Craig Dollansky edged Steve Kinser by 0.25 for fourth with Randy Hannagan rounding out the field in sixth.

* In the second Dash that set the outside top six rows of the A-main, Brian Paulus quickly raced to the front. Donny Schatz cruised into second with Kraig Kinser settling in third. Jason Meyers brought out a caution when he slowed on the backstretch, but Paulus easily charged back into the lead. Schatz, Kinser, Brooke Tatnell and Jason Solwold finished behind Paulus, leaving Meyers to start the feature on the inside of Row 6.

* In the B-main, Terry McCarl shot out to the lead with Tim Shaffer right behind. McCarl continued build momentum on the cushion while Shaffer kept trying to make a move on the bottom. McCarl held him off to win, with Shaffer finishing second and Jac Haudenschild, Danny Smith, Bill Rose and Tim Kaeding also earning transfers to the feature.

* In the first heat, Jason Sides got the jump going into Turn 1 as Brooke Tatnell cut under Randy Hannagan in Turn 1 to slip into second. Danny Lasoski and Chad Kemenah also got around Hannagan who held on for fifth ahead of Brandon Wimmer, who picked up the final transfer position.

* In the second heat, Daryn Pittman powered into the lead as Jason Solwold initially fought off Steve Kinser before Kinser went low in Turn 3 on Lap 2 and made the pass for second. Solwold wound up third, with Donny Schatz, Jason Meyers and Joey Saldana all earning transfer spots.

* In the third heat, Paul McMahan started on the pole and quickly built a lead as the field strung out behind him. Jeff Shepard, racing a car owned by NASCAR star Kasey Kahne, was second, followed by Shane Stewart, Brian Paulus, Kraig Kinser and Craig Dollansky.

* Chad Kemenah paced the 30 cars that went through time trials with a lap around the 1/2-mile oval in 14.189 seconds at 126.859 mph. Mark Kinser owns the track record in an Outlaws event after turning a 14.058-second lap on Oct. 10, 1999.

* The Outlaws head down the interstate Saturday to I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo., before going east to the Brad Doty Classic July 13 at Attica Raceway Park and the Month of Money beginning at Eldora Speedway.

* The Outdoor Channel will air at 8 p.m. (ET) on July 13 the Duel in the Dakotas from Rede River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, N.D.

-woo-

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Tim Shaffer , Mark Kinser , Danny Lasoski , Kasey Kahne , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Craig Dollansky , Brian Paulus , Brooke Tatnell , Daryn Pittman , Jason Meyers , Jason Sides , Joey Saldana , Kraig Kinser , Paul McMahan , Randy Hannagan , Shane Stewart , Bill Rose , Jac Haudenschild , Chad Kemenah , Tim Kaeding