Knoxville Knockout: Donny Schatz Picks Up 15th Win of 2006 Knoxville, Iowa--Oct. 7, 2006 -- Donny Schatz took a big gamble on Saturday night at Knoxville Raceway and it paid off in the form of his 15th A-Feature win of the season with the World...
Knoxville Knockout: Donny Schatz Picks Up 15th Win of 2006
Knoxville, Iowa--Oct. 7, 2006 -- Donny Schatz took a big gamble on Saturday night at Knoxville Raceway and it paid off in the form of his 15th A-Feature win of the season with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series.
While everyone was running the low side of the track, Schatz searched the middle and high side of the racing surface for a line that no one else was running. He found it on the high side of turns three and four, and used a bold pass on the cushion coming off turn four on lap 16 to sweep around first Randy Hannagan who was running second, and then leader Craig Dollansky.
In the matter of a couple hundred feet, Schatz abroad the Parker Store J&J went from third to the lead and then weaved his way through traffic to make another stop in RacinSoles Victory Lane.
Dollansky driving the Karavan Trailers Maxim led the first 15 laps of the race, and closed back up on Schatz with five laps to go, but got bottled up by lapped traffic and settled for the runner-up spot.
Randy Hannagan, in the Penthouse Racing Maxim, who started from the pole, finished third as he continues to close in on his first win of the season.
"I'm happy to get back to victory lane," said a triumphant Schatz. "It doesn't matter if it's win (number) five or fifteen. We try to win as many as we can and get this championship bound up."
After running second for the second straight race, Dollansky was disappointed to not be standing in the winners circle at the legendary track, but was pleased to pick up his 30th Top-Five finish of the season, as his team battled uncertain track conditions all night.
"It definitely wasn't what were looking for tonight," said Dollansky. "We wanted to win, just like always. It was just unfortunate to see the race track take rubber like that. It was good during the dash, and watching the B-Main you could see it was taking rubber on the bottom. It just kind of threw everything out the window as to what we were going to do for the feature. I think we took things too far the other way compensating for the rubber."
Likewise, Hannagan had a bittersweet night as he earned his second pole position of the season and finished a very solid third, with the help of a new engine. Hannagan got a good run on Dollansky on the 10th lap of the race, but could not quite find enough room to make a pass.
"I'm really happy with third," said Hannagan. "Yet I'm a little disappointed after starting on the pole. Starting on the inside (of the front row) we had on hard tires, and we spun them. (Craig) Dollansky got the lead, but I was not too worried with that. I knew that if I could stay with him in traffic that maybe he would make a mistake or get bottled up and I could go around. Just as I got to the back of him and thinking about what move I had to make, Donny Schatz got by us."
Terry McCarl passed more cars than anyone on the track Saturday night, as he charged from the 15th starting spot to finish fourth, without the aid of a single caution. In fact, he was up to the sixth spot on only the fourth lap of the race as he used the cushion of the race track for the first couple circuits to make up some ground and keep the crowd on their feet.
"On this kind of race track, it is kind of incredible (to gain that many spots)," said McCarl, a six-time Knoxville Raceway track champion. "We had a great car and nothing to lose starting that far back. This is my house. I want to show when you come here, you have to deal with Terry McCarl. I felt pretty good. I made a couple of mistakes with some lapped cars in front of me or else we may have had a shot to have run second or third. At this kind of track, it is good to put on a good show for the fans."
Daryn Pittman set fast time of the 43 cars present and ran very solidly all night, coming home fifth in the Titan Garages & Carports Maxim.
"It surprised everyone that it was not as hard on tires as they had thought," said Pittman. "All in all, we were as good at Knoxville as we have been in a while. It's another top-five and we did what we needed to do. We gained a few points on some people and that is the main goal with five (races) to go."
The rest of the Top-10 was Jeff Shepard in the Race Outfitters machine in sixth, as he continues to fill-in for Brooke Tatnell who is back in his native Australia as his father George battles cancer. Brian Brown was seventh in the McKenna Truck Center Maxim. Joey Saldana came home eighth in the Mopar-powered Dodge/Curb Records JEI, Brandon Wimmer in the Alan Barton Motorsports Maxim was ninth. Tony Bruce Jr. in the Best Well Services Eagle picked up his best career World of Outlaws finish in the 10th spot.
Schatz surprised himself with his power move with under 10 laps to go to get around the two frontrunners. He and his crew were left to guess throughout the night as they tried to gauge track conditions after each event that was run.
"I didn't really expect that," said Schatz. "We figured it would be a rubber down deal on the bottom. When you get out of line you are taking too many chances in a deal like that. I don't know if the rubber started to go away or what, but we are able to get around the top in (turns) three and four. I tried it in one and two and lost a lot of ground, but the other end was great. That's what won us the race. I got past Randy (Hannagan) and Craig (Dollansky) in one corner. I got back down there in the rubber and was able to keep going up there and get passed some lapped cars. It was good for us."
Early in the race, Schatz was battling Hannagan for the runner-up spot, as they both used the bottom of the track to keep Dollanksy in their sights. Schatz was in a pretty good spot while running third, because he could use his patience and watch what lines the lead two cars were running as well as explore some different lines for his own car.
"When you are given a situation where you are running anything but the lead, you have nothing to lose," said Schatz. "Whether it was second, third, or fourth, I was going to try something. Would I have done that leading? I probably wouldn't have tried what I did. That was the benefit of running where we were. When it's a deal like this and it is slick early on, you don't know what to do. I was just glad those guys started on the front row, and I was able to fun where I did. I had nothing to lose making the moves I made. It worked out in our favor."
Dollansky knew that Schatz was in the best position in the house. Early in the race, he built substantial leads that were depleted when he hit lapped traffic. With the pace he was setting, the native of Elk River, Minnesota was in traffic on only the fifth circuit on the historic half-mile.
"When you are leading sometimes you are better off running second in a situation like that, especially when the leader gets balled up in lapped traffic," said Dollansky. "That allowed Donny (Schatz) to get a run on us around the top. I went up there and it was definitely a good line up there in that corner, and that's no typical for here, having a "rubber-type" race. It worked for those guys and we ended up second."
While many of the leaders wanted to see a yellow flag wave to bunch up the field and clear up the race track, Hannagan was pleased with the non-stop pace of the 25-lap event.
"It was good," said Hannagan, the winner of the 1995 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt. "We stayed in traffic and that kept things interesting. If I was leading I would have wanted a yellow flag to stretch things back out with a clean race track. Running third, it was good to have the lapped cars there."
McCarl was one of those drivers on the other side of the coin. After quickly making his way first into the Top-10 and then into sixth, he got bottled up and slowed by some of the lapped cars.
"We definitely needed some cautions because everyone was running the bottom and I was up banging the cushion," said McCarl. "Very seldom do I have a "win or wad" attitude owning my own team, but tonight it was "win or wad." There were a lot of sponsors here and a lot family, and people we wanted to run good for. That gave me extra momentum there."
For Schatz his 15th win of the year, also matched the number on his car. In three events at Knoxville this season, his worst finish was a second back in June. Along with his win on Saturday night, the native of Fargo, North Dakota also won the Knoxville Nationals in August. He knew that he had to be aggressive to make his way to the front on a track that was difficult to pass on, especially with 25 straight laps of green flag racing.
"Traffic is what helped us win the race," said Schatz. "It's also what could have cost you the race. It's what people come here to see, is a race. This is not NASCAR, so you can't factor in the yellows. I hate the yellows. We were glad it went green to checkers, that's the way it ought to be. It benefits us, but we really did not have any big advantage. We were able to get up there and get high and around them and then back to the bottom. Just all around, it was a great night."
Dollansky was a little surprised to see the race go the entire way without a single yellow flag. There were a couple times he got bottled up in some heavy traffic and had to weave his way around them while leading.
"I don't think it hurt anything by any means," said Dollansky. "Typically you have a great race track here to race on. They had a lot of racing here tonight with the make up show. For us to go non-stop with the way the track ended up being was a good thing."
Hannagan was very optimistic after the race, and looking forward to the last five races of the season. The native of San Jose, now has eight Top-Five finishes on the year as he is just outside the Top-10 on points.
"It was a good effort with some new horsepower," said Hannagan. "Don Ott did us a motor, and it was just fabulous. Maybe with that new horsepower, we can run up front more often."
After thrilling the crowd on the track, McCarl had a long line of fans waiting outside of his trailer when we climbed out of his car. The six-time Knoxville Raceway champion was pleased the fans got to see a very good race and got their money's worth on an unseasonably warm October day, and happily signed autographs and posed for pictures with every fan that came by.
"We love the fans, especially back here," said McCarl. "That's what motivated me to put on such a good show. We have a lot of fans back here."
The World of Outlaws Sprint Series returns to action next Saturday October 7 at Wilmot (Wisc.) Speedway in an event that was postponed to due to rain on Sept. 24.
KNOXVILLE RACEWAY NOTEBOOK
* FAST QUALIFIER: Daryn Pittman paced the 40 cars that took time with an AMB i.t.-timed lap around the 1/2-mile oval at 14.872 seconds at 121.033 mph. For his qualifying effort, Pittman earned five bonus points. The next four fastest qualifiers also earned bonus points, including Calvin Landis (4), Craig Dollansky (3), Randy Anderson (2), and Dennis Moore Jr. (1) Knoxville Raceway is a half-mile semi-banked oval and Brooke Tatnell holds the track record of 14.407 seconds established on May 6, 2006.
* QUALIFYING EVENT WINNERS: Heat race winners included: Brian Brown, Justin Henderson, Jason Martin, and Joey Saldana. ... Don Droud Jr. won the B-Main. ... Randy Hannagan won the dash.
* UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws Sprint Series heads to Wilmot (Wisc.) Speedway on Oct. 14 to, make up an event that was rained out on Sept. 24. This will mark the series first race at the 3/8-mile oval. A pair of events in Arizona is then in store as the Outlaws visit Manzanita Speedway on Oct. 20 and USA Racepark on Oct. 21. The following week, the season wraps up with a two-day show at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 27-28.