Donny Schatz rakes in cash after winning World of Outlaws Sprint Series finale in Las Vegas Las Vegas -- March 11, 2005 -- Donny Schatz and his crew knew his car would shoot to the front in the J.D. Byrider World of Outlaws Nationals A-main...
Donny Schatz rakes in cash after winning World of Outlaws Sprint Series finale in Las Vegas
Las Vegas -- March 11, 2005 -- Donny Schatz and his crew knew his car would shoot to the front in the J.D. Byrider World of Outlaws Nationals A-main Friday night, but the suspense was in waiting to find out if he could get it there before the checkered flag waved.
Then with seven laps to go he forced his way past Craig Dollansky and into second, touching wheels and nearly spinning out in the process. A deft save and a tight car thrilled the standing-room-only crowd of more than 10,000 at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as Schatz focused in on leader Kraig Kinser one lap later.
The two raced side-by-side, then dove in-and-out of traffic before Schatz slipped past Kinser under the flagstand and shot into the lead for good coming out of Turn 2. Once in front, Schatz continued to expand the gap to second, eventually winning the 30-lap, $12,500 feature event by 3.1 seconds.
"Our racecars are always better at the end than at the beginning," said Schatz, who also won the 2004 season finale at Las Vegas. "We were kind of skeptical about how tight to go, but we just went with it. That's what we normally do and it worked out for us. We just needed more laps and fuel to come off the other cars. Everybody's cars get worse and my racecars seem to get a lot better. Some nights it bites us, tonight it helped us stay on the bottom and make decent laps."
Kinser held on to finish second ahead of Dollansky, who is the series' new points leader after coming into the race tied with Steve Kinser. Following Dollansky were Danny Lasoski, Sammy Swindell and pole-sitter Shane Stewart.
Schatz's victory cut short Kraig Kinser's goal to sweep the event. He had won the preliminary feature Thursday night and started the main event on the outside of the front row.
"It wasn't too bad a weekend," said Kinser, the 2004 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award winner. "You can't really complain about that. You always wish you could have made the sweep, but Donny had a good car and he was moving there at the end. He was running the bottom and keeping his tires in a little better shape than I was up top. That might have been it or he might have just had a better handling car at the end.
"When I got behind cars I'd to start get real tight. That made it so I couldn't run the bottom at all. I tried running the bottom a couple of times but I couldn't get around there any good. Donny was able to stick down on the bottom where people couldn't stick and it won him the race."
Once Kinser caught the rear of the field, Schatz was able to close fast. With the grooves widening, Schatz continued to be locked on the bottom while Kinser tried to carry his momentum around the high side.
"Kraig's car was fast on the top, and he needed to be maneuverable," Schatz said. "I could run the top, but I wasn't very good there. When you get to traffic you've got to be able to go everywhere. I kept trying to make the bottom work. I knew when we got to traffic it was going to have to be there. If you don't push the envelope in this deal, you're going to get passed by two or three guys. When I saw the opportunity I went for it. It worked for us tonight, but a lot of nights it bites you."
If not for a breathtaking save in the blink of an eye when he tried to pass Dollansky to move into second with seven to go, Schatz's night would have been over. The two came off of Turn 4 with Schatz poking his nose to the inside of Dollansky's machine under the flagstand. Schatz's right front tire touched Dollansky's car as they approached Turn 1. The contact started to send Schatz's car sideways before he collected it, barely losing any ground. He raced his way right back to the low side and past Dollansky.
"It got pretty sideways," Schatz said. "That's our job to try to save them. I feel a lot more comfortable trying to save my car in that situation than I would driving down the interstate at 90 mph getting sideways on the ice. When you're in [a spin], you don't have a choice. You've got to get out of them."
Still, Dollansky's third-place run was his fourth top-five finish in a main event this season, enough to push him past 19-time champion Steve Kinser in the standings.
"It's just good to have a strong start to the year," Dollansky said. "If you can get started off strong it definitely helps you down the stretch. We just need to keep working hard."
One crew that was forced to work extra hard was Lasoski's. A crowd favorite in Las Vegas, Lasoski broke a crankshaft in his heat but still managed to transfer into the A-main, where he improved from eighth to fourth for his third top-five finish this season.
"We'll keep plugging away and get closer and closer, we just need to get consistent," said Lasoski, the 2001 series champion. "When we get consistently in the top five we're going to win our share.
"The sign of a good team is that you don't let one bad night ruin your season. You just look ahead to the next night because we have 100 nights."
So Schatz hopes to carry his momentum from another strong showing at Las Vegas, where he also finished third Thursday night in the preliminary, to Pike County Speedway on March 18 and Houston Raceway Park on March 19 before the teams get a week off.
"We need to just keep winning races," said Schatz, who joins Steve Kinser, Mark Kinser and Lasoski as three-time winners in Las Vegas. "We're not focusing on seconds and thirds. We need to win races, it's the plain flat bottom line. You win a lot of races, things are going to go your way and the points will take care of themselves. We don't need to be falling out. We were really good the first night down in Florida, had a good start but just didn't finish that way. Hopefully we've got all the bad stuff behind us. I think we'll be all right. These guys work awfully hard and I've been a tough guy to deal with lately with the way we've been running so maybe this will ease my blood pressure a little bit.
"It's a chemistry. It's not just one person, it's a lot of people. These guys work awful hard, but the only thing I can do is get in the car and go so I got to just keep fighting that way."
In the dash, Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award leader Shane Stewart grabbed the lead from Kraig Kinser going into Turn 1 and held him off through the first couple of laps before the field began to string out and he had captured the pole for the feature.
In the B-main, Randy Hannagan charged into the lead and never relinquished it, while in each of the three heat races, the field quickly stretched out single file. In the first heat, Jason Solwold raced into the lead going into Turn 1 and drove away to win. The second heat featured Steve Kinser and Sammy Swindell in the front row, with Swindell dominating the race. Daryn Pittman easily won the third heat.
For the second consecutive night, Dollansky set the quick time as he circled the half-mile speedway in 13.886 seconds at 129.627 mph.
All the action from Las Vegas can be seen on The Outdoor Channel at 8 p.m. (Eastern) March 23 and March 30.
The World of Outlaws Sprint Series rolls March 18 to Pike County Speedway in Magnolia, Miss., and March 19 to Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas, before taking a weekend off. After that, the racers don't get much of a break as the series hits Batesville Speedway on April 1, I-55 Speedway on April 2, and then Eldora Speedway for a two-night show April 8-9.