Red River Valley: Duel in the Dakotas final report

Schatz Thrills Hometown Fans, Wins Duel in the Dakotas WEST FARGO, ND (July 6) - Nothing beats winning a Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series main event in front of your hometown fans. Just ask Donny Schatz. Schatz, who lives in Fargo, won the...

Schatz Thrills Hometown Fans, Wins Duel in the Dakotas

WEST FARGO, ND (July 6) - Nothing beats winning a Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series main event in front of your hometown fans. Just ask Donny Schatz.

Schatz, who lives in Fargo, won the Fifth Annual Duel in the Dakotas Saturday, exchanging the lead with Joey Saldana twice and beating defending champion Craig Dollansky under the checkered flag by a straightaway.

"This is just incredible!" Schatz yelled to the standing-room-only crowd. "This is probably the biggest win of my career. I've wanted this one for so long, and to finally get a win here in front of all my family and friends just means so much.

"I got by Joey once, and he drove back under me, but I knew we'd get another shot at him. The Parker Stores/Subway/Bellerud Trucking car was good down low, and I knew with the hard tire we had on we'd be better the longer we went. I just want to thank everyone for coming out and supporting me. We had a great car all weekend, and we finally got it done tonight."

Schatz, whose crew replaced the rear end in his #15 J&J during all three racing programs, passed 23 cars in the preliminary features to finish fifth in the event point standings. The 1997 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year award winner earned the right to start outside the second row in the main event by finishing fourth in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Dash.

Saldana, who won the opening-night Preliminary Feature, raced around pole-sitter Dollansky as the green flag fell in the 30-lap feature. Schatz raced past Shaffer in the low groove between the first and second corners early in the opening lap.

Schatz used a similar move to pass Dollansky for second place three laps later and caught Saldana early in lap seven. Schatz took the lead deep in the first corner, only to have Saldana pass him in the low groove in turn two.

Schatz took the lead he would never relinquish three laps later, taking the high line around Saldana between the first and second corners.

Dollansky and Saldana exchanged the runner-up spot during the 11th and 12th laps, passing each other in the low groove between turns one and two. Schatz was a straightaway ahead of them midway through the race.

Daryn Pittman and Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Steve Kinser were battling for fifth place when they collided on the front stretch. "The King of the Outlaws" spun, bringing out the caution flag and tightening the 24-car field.

Dollansky passed Saldana in the low groove between turns one and two again early in lap 23. Shaffer steered the #83 Beef Packers Eagle deep in the fourth corner to pass Saldana for third place one lap later.

Sammy Swindell, Shaffer's Beef Packers teammate and a six-time winner at Red River Valley Speedway, raced past four cars in the first 24 laps. He passed World of Outlaws Gumout Series points leader Tyler Walker for seventh place in the low groove between turns one and two with 4 2/3 laps remaining.

Schatz' first main event victory of the year pushed him past Tim Shaffer and Stevie Smith into sixth place in the point standings. Twelve drivers have won Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series "A" Features this season.

Shaffer held off Saldana for third place. Pittman finished fifth, ahead of Third Heat Race winner Danny Lasoski, Swindell, Walker, Jac Haudenschild and Smith, who started outside the eighth row.

Kinser drove his #11 Quaker State Maxim back through the field during the final eight laps to finish in 11th place and maintain a 15-point lead in the standings. It was the first time in 10 main events "The King of the Outlaws" finished out of the top three.

Randy Hannagan was running second in the Third Heat Race when his #1x K&C Drywall Eagle spun into the retaining wall in turn one and flipped. The 1995 Rookie of the Year drove his backup car into fourth place from the rear of the "B" Feature and raced into 21st place from outside the 12th row in the main event.

A broken lifter in the #2W Heintz Brothers Maxim kept Johnny Herrera from racing past the hot-lap session.

The Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series will run $51,600 events at Cedar Lake Speedway Monday, Powercom Park Raceway Wednesday, Route 66 Raceway Friday, I-55 Raceway Saturday and the Terre Haute Action Track Sunday.

-WoO-

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Danny Lasoski , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Sammy Swindell , Craig Dollansky , Tyler Walker , Daryn Pittman , Joey Saldana , Randy Hannagan