Schatz Dominates Lebanon Valley Event By Richard Day WEST LEBANON, NY (May 28) -- Donny Schatz has been the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' hottest driver since winning his first "A" Feature of the season at Huset's Speedway. The 1997...
Schatz Dominates Lebanon Valley Event
By Richard Day
WEST LEBANON, NY (May 28) -- Donny Schatz has been the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' hottest driver since winning his first "A" Feature of the season at Huset's Speedway.
The 1997 Rookie of the Year ranked 11th in the point standings after finishing 16th at Knoxville Raceway April 28th. Finishing in the top 10 five times, winning two main events -- including a flag-to-flag victory at Lebanon Valley Speedway on Memorial Day -- and winning a Preliminary Feature in the last six events have pushed him into seventh place.
"My crew did a great job tonight to give me a really good race car, but I think we have a little more work to do," Donny said. "The motor was flattening out all through the race. We may not have had the fastest car tonight, but we were lucky enough to qualify for the front of a heat race, and start up front in the dash and feature."
Schatz, the ninth-fastest qualifier in the 27-car field, won every race he entered -- the Third O'Reilly Heat Race, the CHANNELLOCK Dash and the 25-lap "A" Feature.
Schatz drove his family's #15 Park Stores J&J into the lead as the green flag fell in the main event. He was a half-stretch ahead of Second O'Reilly Heat Race winner Daryn Pittman when he entered lapped traffic during the eighth lap and steadily increased his advantage to win by a full straightaway.
"The track was great tonight," Schatz said. "There was a top and a bottom groove. I think the top might have actually been a little quicker, but we just didn't have enough power to get running up around there.
"I definitely look forward to this New York swing. We ran second to Sammy (Swindell) here last year, and I thought we had a shot to win it. I hope we can go over there and do the same thing at Rolling Wheels Wednesday night."
Afternoon thunderstorms delayed Lebanon Valley's 21st Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series event almost two hours. The premier sprint car racing series has run 102 events in New York state since its inception in 1978.
Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Mark Kinser exchanged sixth place with Craig Dollansky during the sixth and seventh laps. Dale Blaney steered the #10 U.S. Print/MBNA/Mopar Maxim into the high groove in the second corner to pass Dollansky for seventh place during lap eight and Danny Lasoski passed the defending World of Outlaws Gumout Series champion three laps later.
Carmon Carnibucci's turn-four flip brought out the red flag late in the 12th lap. Tim Shaffer lost third place when the #11H Vivarin Maxim suffered mechanical problems as the green flag replaced the red.
Andy Hillenburg, who started inside the eighth row, passed six cars during the first half of the race. He steered his #2 Luxaire J&J to the lowest point between the first and second corners to pass Lasoski for seventh place early in the 14th lap and challenged Blaney throughout the remainder of the race.
Pittman tied his career-best finish by holding off fast-qualifier Joey Saldana for the runner-up spot. Steve Kinser, who has won six Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series "A" Features at Lebanon Valley Speedway, finished in fourth place. Mark Kinser finished fifth, ahead of Blaney, Hillenburg, Lasoski, Jeff Shepard and Dollansky.
Saldana sliced .106 seconds off the single-lap record Sammy Swindell set last May 29th. He drove Dennis Roth's #83 Beef Packers Eagle around the high-banked, 1/2-mile oval in 16.550 seconds, an average speed of 108.761 m.p.h.
Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year candidate Jason Meyers and Mark Smith battled for the lead early in the "B" Feature. Their first-lap collision sent Smith flipping into Mike Miller. Meyers went on to win the "B" Feature and raced into 14th place from inside the 10th row in the main event.
An engine problem the #6 Casey's General Stores Maxim forced Johnny Herrera to take one lap at the end of the qualifying session. He qualified 22nd-quick, followed Meyers across the finish line in the last-chance race and passed four cars to finish 16th in the "A" Feature.