Meyers Captures World of Outlaws Sprint Series Duel in the Dakotas Crown Jason Meyers did everything he could to push his car into the lead Saturday night in the World of Outlaws Duel in the Dakotas finale, but even he was resigned to the fact...
Meyers Captures World of Outlaws Sprint Series Duel in the Dakotas Crown
Jason Meyers did everything he could to push his car into the lead Saturday night in the World of Outlaws Duel in the Dakotas finale, but even he was resigned to the fact he'd be a runner-up for the second night in a row at Red River Valley Speedway.
Then all of a sudden with three laps to go, leader and hometown favorite Donny Schatz slowed on the frontstretch leaving a highly partisan crowd clad mostly in his team's colors stunned. Meyers shot by on the outside then held off Brooke Tatnell to the checkered flag for his fourth A-feature victory of the season.
Meyers, who won a preliminary feature in this event last season, collected $12,500 and became the seventh different Duel in the Dakotas A-feature winner in the past seven years.
Kraig Kinser was third, followed by quick qualifier Terry McCarl and preliminary feature winner Brian Paulus.
"[Schatz] was really good tonight," said Meyers, a native of Clovis, Calif., who won on a half-mile speedway for the second time in the past 11 days in his Elite Racing Team Maxim. "I don't know if we were going to get him or not. He had a great car, but so did we. This racetrack takes a motor and we had a motor tonight. Everybody did a great job."
Meyers, who is second in the series ranking, also gained 44 points in the standings. Series leader Steve Kinser could not return from a horrific-looking first-lap crash that sent his car hard into the Turn 1 wall and flipping up the track. Brandon Wimmer was on the gas from the start and had nowhere to go, sending him into Kinser's machine. All drivers walked away but neither Kinser's nor Wimmer's cars were able to return.
So with the race completely restarted, Meyers was again on the pole and raced side-by-side with Schatz into the first turn. Schatz powered his way to the lead on the outside as they came off of Turn 2 and extended his advantage lap after lap, smoothly negotiating traffic and not allowing Meyers a chance to get in position to make a move for the lead.
Kraig Kinser was able to move his car high or low as he methodically worked his way through traffic from the 10th starting position. A third of the way into the 30-lap feature, Kinser was in sixth and still on the move as Tatnell was making small gains on Meyers for second.
But Schatz's car was working perfectly. He could race anywhere he needed to lap cars without losing momentum and keep Meyers and the rest of the field at bay, much to the delight of the crowd.
Then the unthinkable happened. Only a mile-and-a-half from the finish and his first victory since March 19, Schatz's car slowed as he approached Turn 1 in eerily similar fashion to what happened to him in February at Volusia Speedway Park. It left the packed grandstands in stunned silence momentarily before it broke out in applause, showing its appreciation for the show Schatz put on during both nights of the event.
"We were decent all weekend," said Schatz, whose team has struggled since that last victory and was hoping this weekend at his hometown track would get his season back in gear. "The racecar felt really good tonight but it's the way racing is, you have the good and the bad. We're all right. We know what the problem was. We changed our motors around for this weekend and that obviously helped so we know what direction we need to go. I guess anytime you make a step in the right direction that's the way we want to be. I think we'll be all right and go to the next race and just forget about this one."
For Meyers, the victory was his 11th top-10 finish in the past 13 races, a span that has seen him jump from third to second in the overall standings.
"I didn't know if we were going to catch [Schatz] or not," he said. "I was trying my hardest to get a little momentum on him and it looked like I had found something in Turns 3 and 4 where I was rolling up on him a little bit but he was getting through Turns 1 and 2 better than I was. I think that's why you saw us try so hard on the start to get each other because I think we both knew whoever got out front was going to be hard to catch. I was just trying to run him down the whole time and really it was just chase him, chase him and a little bit of bad luck there turns into our good fortune. It's unfortunate to see that happen for them, but it was good for our team. Sometimes you win them that way."
Tatnell held on to finish second. He and his first-year Rush Racing team hasn't finished outside of the top 10 since May 27 at Williams Grove Speedway.
"It's a chemistry," said Tatnell, a native of San Souci, New South Wales, Australia, whose team is sixth in owners' points. "This is a marriage. These guys spend more time with me than they do with their wives so they better love me. Our car owners have given us everything capable of winning. We're having good runs, top-10s, top-fives -- we're right there but it's really becoming a pain that we can't pull off a win. A second-place finish is something to be proud of, but it's a thorn in my side right now."
Kraig Kinser posted a win last weekend at Knoxville Raceway and knows he must keep pace with Meyers to have any chance of catching him in the standings.
"It's hard this year because so many cars are running so good, especially with Meyers and [Craig] Dollansky right there," said Kinser, of Bloomington, Ind. "Dad's usually more consistent than any of us, but we've got to stay up there just because it's so tight with points. You can end up losing a lot just on one night."
Terry McCarl, a six-time Knoxville Raceway champion from Altoona, Iowa, bounced back from a rough preliminary feature to post the fastest lap of the night in time trials, circling the half-mile speedway in 16.118 seconds at 111.676 mph, and finish fourth in the main event.
"I feel real good about it," said McCarl, who is racing full-time with the Outlaws for the first time since the late '90s. "When we go to a lot of these new places we screw up. I haven't been here for six or seven years and last night we missed it on the setup in qualifying and tonight we came back and were quick time. I'm really proud of my team because of that. A lot of these tracks I've been to, but it has been so long I really haven't been to them so it's like starting from scratch."
"We've got a lot to learn, but I like when we learn and we do well mechanically. The motors are running great with another quick time for our Wesmar Engine. To come out of these tracks like this where I haven't been for a long time it feels really good to get a top-four."
Brian Paulus raced to a fifth-place finish for his sixth top-five in the past seven race nights after his car hit a huge rut in Turn 1 that shot it up the track and into Steve Kinser's machine in the first-lap incident.
"This is probably the hardest top-five we've had this whole season," said Paulus, who had taken the checkered flag to win the previous two race nights. "We had a really good car but had some issues on the first lap. Everything got tightened up and kind of caused the accident. Track conditions didn't help me out in the first corner. I was hoping I could get through there and not cause anything, maybe just lose a couple of spots and fight from further back, but we got into Steve and I guess a couple of other guys got into him while he was crashing. Mentally, it was just killing me. We need to get out of here and go to Cedar Lake and hopefully have a good run there."
In the end, Meyers drives away as the big winner. Not only did he capture another victory, but he made huge strides in his quest to win a World of Outlaws championship.
"Anybody who shows up to the racetrack racing for second shouldn't be here," Meyers said. "Steve's a great guy and has a great team that has set the bar high, but we're going to chase him all year long and still go for the win.
"We don't wish anything bad upon anybody, but we're going to need a little bit of bad luck on his side in order to catch him. It's unfortunate to see that happen, but we have to run good on nights like that when maybe they don't finish."
DUEL IN THE DAKOTAS NOTEBOOK
* Jason Meyers started on the pole for the third time this season. He finished ninth on April 2 at I-55 Raceway and second April 22 at Outlaw Motor Speedway.
* In the Stacker 2 Dash, Jason Meyers used his front-row starting spot to race to the checkered flag and earn the pole for the feature. Donny Schatz jumped into second followed by Brian Paulus, Terry McCarl and Steve Kinser.
* In the B-main, Danny Wood got a huge jump and easily pulled away after a restart with nine laps to go for an easy victory. Second-fastest qualifier Travis Whitney cruised to the finish in second as Loren Langerud, Travis Rilat and Mark Dobmeier also advanced to the A-main.
* In the first heat, Brandon Wimmer held off Sammy Swindell on the first lap, but Swindell slipped to the inside of Wimmer in Turns 1 and 2 on Lap 2 and powered to the victory. Wimmer, Kraig Kinser, Danny Lasoski and Terry McCarl also earned transfers to the feature.
* In the second heat, Paul McMahan got the jump as the green flag flew and held off a hard-charging Jason Sides on a restart with three laps to go for the victory. Sides, Tim Kaeding, Tim Shaffer and Jason Solwold also transferred to the feature.
* In the third heat, Joey Saldana and Shane Stewart raced side-by-side into Turns 1 and 2 as Steve Kinser cut into the third position. Saldana edged in front on the backstretch and drove off with the victory as Stewart, Kinser, Daryn Pittman and Craig Dollansky all transferred to the feature.
* Terry McCarl paced the 25 cars that went through time trials with a lap around the half-mile oval in 16.118 seconds at 111.676 mph. Craig Dollansky set the single lap record of 14.786 seconds on July 4, 2002.
* Because of their finishes in the top four Friday night in the preliminary feature, Brian Paulus, Jason Meyers, Donny Schatz and Brooke Tatnell advanced directly to the top four positions in the Stacker 2 Dash that set the top six positions for the A-feature on Saturday night.
* The Outlaws race July 4 at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis., July 6 at The Raceway at Powercom Park in Beaver Dam, Wis., July 8 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., and July 9 at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo.