As the "Month of Money" continued, the Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway loomed large for all World of Outlaws competitors. After Pennsylvania Posse legend Fred Rahmer swept the first two series races at the half-mile in May, bragging ...
As the "Month of Money" continued, the Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway loomed large for all World of Outlaws competitors. After Pennsylvania Posse legend Fred Rahmer swept the first two series races at the half-mile in May, bragging rights were certainly on the line, with three days of racing on-tap.
Terry McCarl knows a thing or two about bragging right, as well as the history of Williams Grove Speedway. He marvels at the names that have won races at the legendary track, and for a long time, he dreamed of adding his own name to that illustrious list.
On the first night of the Summer Nationals, he was able to do just that, as he edged Daryn Pittman to take the preliminary feature win. Pittman battled McCarl through the entire 25-lap race, and made a very strong charge on the last lap, and came up just 0.66 second short of the victory.
McCarl started on the pole after picking up a convincing win in the dash, his fifth dash win of the season. This earned him his third pole position of the year. For the preliminary feature win, he pocketed $5,000.
"I've been around sprint car racing my whole life, and I'm a bit of a historian," said a smiling McCarl. "I really love sprint car racing and will be around it the rest of my life, and it means a lot to be able to say that I won at Williams Grove Speedway. It's a real honor to say that I have won something here."
On night two, Mother Nature tried her best to slow down Craig Dollansky, but she could not.
Just as the cars were rolling out for the 25-lap preliminary feature, rain began to fall and that led to a delay, as the track crew worked diligently to get the racing surface ready for the 24 car starting field. When the race did get under way, Dollansky wasted little time, as he started on the pole and looked to pull away from the rest of the field. Brooke Tatnell started on the outside of the front row and kept pace with Dollansky in the early going.
Dollansky continued to pace the field and built some pretty sizeable leads that were negated by a couple of cautions. One of those cautions came with one lap remaining, and by way of World of Outlaws rules, the race must finish under two laps of green flag racing, and thus a shootout was set up, with Daryn Pittman and Tatnell behind Dollansky.
A strong restart propelled Dollansky to a sizeable advantage over the last two laps, and he found himself in RacinSoles Victory Lane, for the first time in a preliminary feature in 2006. For his efforts, he pocketed $5,000.
Pittman made a last lap pass of Tatnell to come home second, as the pair traded slide jobs at least three times over a lap-and-a-half period. Jac Haudenschild stated the preliminary feature in the 11th spot and charged into the top-five. He used a late power move to get around Donny Schatz, who was fifth.
"We a good race car," said Dollansky. "Before the rain, it was feeling very good. It's unfortunate that it rained, but my hat is off to Williams Grove and the World of Outlaws officials for getting this event in. That's exactly what you should do in a situation like that if you can. Everybody worked through it and it was great win for the Karavan team. Hopefully that puts us in a good position for tomorrow."
Daryn Pittman dominated the final night of the Summer Nationals to earn the first victory of his career at historic Williams Grove Speedway.
Pittman, who entered the finale as the Summer Nationals point leader, won the dash, started on the pole and held off Donny Schatz for 30 caution-free laps to earn a $20,000 share of the "Month of Money."
Craig Dollansky, who won the second night of the Summer Nationals, finished third with Brooke Tatnell, and Joey Saldana completing a top-five sweep for World of Outlaws drivers in the heart of Pennsylvania Posse country.
Pittman had been close to winning before at Williams Grove, but something always conspired to keep him out of the winner's circle until Saturday night. That's why even though he was starting from the pole, Pittman refused to be confident about winning until the checkered flag waved.
"I think I thought that twice here in the fall last year and it bit me," said Pittman. "We led the most laps and lost. You never know with Schatz and [Fred] Rahmer and some of those guys behind you that are normally pretty good here. You can never take any lap easy. I just told myself when we got down to the last five that I'd try to start running them harder and harder. You never take it easy, but there's no room for mistakes. I just didn't want to run second here again. Schatz is awfully good and to finally be able to beat him here at one of his best racetracks is a great accomplishment. Our car was just awesome. This is a brand new Don Ott motor this weekend and it was just incredible. All in all, I couldn't ask for a better weekend."
With his runner-up finish, Schatz extended his lead to 207 points over Saldana as he continued to chase his first World of Outlaws title.
A pair of races in New York was next on the slate, as the series rolled into Lebanon Valley Speedway on July 23.
Donny Schatz continued his strong stretch of races in the Empire State, backing up an earlier win at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park.
Schatz used a strong late race restart to hold off Lucas Wolfe, who scored his best career World of Outlaws finish and Daryn Pittman for the win.
"I'm just glad to be back here at Lebanon Valley," said Schatz, who led all 30 laps to claim the $10,000 checkered flag. "I like coming here. I learned a lot about this racetrack last year and we were really good in the dash tonight."
The win gave him a 231-point lead in the standings, the largest to-date for the native of Fargo, North Dakota.
Already with two wins in New York on the season, Schatz was anxious to see if he could make it a hat trick on July 24 at Fulton Speedway. In four events this season in the Empire State, his lowest finish was a second. That averages out to a nightly result of 1.25.
Schatz was searching for a way around Craig Dollansky at Fulton when Dollansky jumped the cushion on Lap 26 giving Schatz all the room he needed to power his way to the win.
After Joey Saldana led the first 19 laps, Dollansky and Schatz battled back and forth through traffic. The two swapped the lead on Laps 20-21 before Dollansky took control. But with Schatz pushing the pace on the bottom and Dollansky riding the cushion, it was Schatz who found himself in front when Dollansky spun in Turn 2 with four laps to go.
Saldana trailed Schatz to the checkered flag with Dollansky, who kept his machine under power during the spin, recovering to finish third, followed by Randy Hannagan and Brooke Tatnell.
"It's nice to have that many wins," Schatz said. "It's always tough in the driver's seat, but I am more comfortable in the driver's seat in lapped traffic than I am out of it. I don't really like watching the races, I like being in the middle of them."
Schatz continued to hold a commanding lead in the points, as the series made a long journey west to Princeton (Minn.) Speedway for the PolyDome Princeton Nationals to close out the month.
It was no secret that starting up front at Princeton would be an advantage on the tight quarter-mile.
Daryn Pittman and Donny Schatz took full advantage of an eight-car inversion for the dash during the opener of the PolyDome Princeton Nationals to find themselves on the front row for the feature.
Starting on the outside of the front row, Pittman powered to the front and set a blistering pace. Schatz tried to run him down, moving all over the high-banked quarter-mile Princeton Speedway trying to cut down Pittman's lead. The two hit traffic quickly, with Pittman initially picking off cars at will in an awesome demonstration of handling and horsepower. Then he hit more and more traffic, with cars running side-by-side making it tough for the native of Owasso, Okla., to find a clear lane to keep pushing.
Meanwhile, Schatz started to find his groove and closed in on Pittman. With Pittman working the middle in Turns 1 and 2, Schatz dove to the bottom, getting his nose under Pittman and letting the leader know he was in for a fight with 12 laps to go in the 30-lap event. Still, Pittman carried his momentum in the higher lane down the back and into Turns 3 and 4, where again Schatz dove underneath but couldn't make it stick. Pittman surged back in front on the top and the two repeated the run again.
The two again went side-by-side for the lead when suddenly the yellow flag waved for a spinning car in Turn 2 with 10 laps to go. It was just what Pittman needed. With field realigned, Pittman had nobody to block his path, making it difficult for Schatz to pressure him.
A strong restart gave Pittman the advantage once again as Schatz repeated his earlier tactics, waiting for traffic to become a factor again. Another caution with six to go had the same affect. Pittman found traffic again on the final circuit. Schatz knew he had one more chance to pick up the victory, and more importantly be locked into the pole for the dash on Saturday. Schatz closed fast on the last lap, nearly coming even with Pittman in the final corner. But Pittman was still on the outside and carried his momentum to the checkered flag and into the RacinSoles Victory Lane for the second time this season in a preliminary feature.
Schatz wound up second with Jac Haudenschild holding off Brooke Tatnell for third. Those four drivers will be locked into the top four spots in the dash on Saturday. Jason Solwold, who set quick time rounded out the top five.
"Luck is a big part of this," said Pittman. "They drew the right pill for the dash inversion. We knew we had a car good enough to win if we could get track position and luckily we had that. We were good early in the race and it's pretty typical of Schatz to be a little tight early and be really good late in the race. That was the case tonight. Luckily we were able to hold him off tonight. Lapped traffic didn't give us too many problems and we were able to hold on and get another win. It gets us on the pole for the dash tomorrow, that's the biggest thing. We have the best opportunity to win, we just have to take advantage of it."
Looking for his second sweep of the season, Pittman was in good position in the finale. He not only endured an unseasonably warm day that brought record temperatures to the area, but also heavy lapped traffic that had him slicing and dicing his way around the track for 40 intense non-stop laps.
By the time the dizzying pace finally slowed, Pittman was out front at the checkered flag to sweep an event for the second time this season. Jac Haudenschild was second followed by Craig Dollansky, Donny Schatz and Jason Solwold.
It was point leader Schatz who started on the pole for the second consecutive night. Rather than let Pittman get a run on him on Saturday, Schatz jumped out to an early lead but in only three laps Brooke Tatnell surged to the front from his second-row starting spot and started to pull away, forcing Pittman and Schatz to quickly pick their way through traffic just to keep Tatnell in their sights.
Schatz eventually ran down Tatnell on Lap 11. He then pulled even and slid in front as Tatnell's right rear shredded down the backstretch. On the restart, Schatz had two lapped cars between himself and Pittman with nothing but clear track in front. Normally, that's trouble for the rest of the field, but not on Saturday. For the first time this season, Schatz made a mistake and found himself sitting backwards on the cushion in Turn 2 as the field screamed past.
Pittman couldn't believe his fortune. After winning the preliminary feature on Friday night, he was now in position to sweep through Princeton. But to do so, he had to hold off Haudenschild and Dollansky as Schatz started his march from the rear of the field.
With Pittman running through the middle and cutting down angles, he didn't leave room for either Haudenschild or Dollansky to carry momentum through the corners. Back in heavy traffic but still on a blistering pace, Pittman methodically built an advantage that he rode to the RacinSoles Victory Lane for the third time this season in a main event.
"Honestly, I didn't think we had anything for them," said Pittman after the win. "I was good from the time the green flag fell, but I just wasn't going fast enough. Our car was good. It was good enough to stay out front. Tatnell and Schatz were going to be tough to pass. Once they got in front of me, they were definitely the two cars to beat. We just had a lot of luck on our side tonight and we were able to take advantage of it. Schatz doesn't make very many mistakes. He did tonight and luckily we were able to stay ahead of him and get the win."
As the month wrapped up, Schatz had extended his point lead to a comfortable 239 over Saldana, with Dollansky third, Pittman fourth, and Tatnell fifth.
Up Next: A review of the World of Outlaws Sprint Series events from the month of August.