Rolling A Seven: Schatz Captures Wichita Twister Showdown for Seventh Win of Season Park City, KS--June 30, 2006-by: Seven is often referred to as a lucky number, and on Friday night Donny Schatz used a little bit of luck and a lot of skill to...
Rolling A Seven: Schatz Captures Wichita Twister Showdown for Seventh Win of Season
Park City, KS--June 30, 2006-by: Seven is often referred to as a lucky number, and on Friday night Donny Schatz used a little bit of luck and a lot of skill to pick up his series leading seventh win of the season.
Schatz dove to the bottom on Lap 6 and slid under pole-sitter Terry McCarl, then held off several challenges through traffic to capture the World of Outlaws Sprint Series Wichita Twister Showdown at 81 Speedway.
For Schatz, it marked his first victory at 81 Speedway, and was his 41st career A-feature win with the series, which places him 10th on the all-time list.
Starting on the outside of the front row, Schatz actually slipped over the banking of the fourth turn on the start at the 3/8-mile oval, but a caution waved, and series rules state that since a full lap was not recorded, a complete restart was in order. When the green flag waved, Schatz kept McCarl in his sight and ran him down in the ParkerStore J&J. When McCarl went up the track, Schatz turned to the bottom and into the lead. From there he held off a late surge by McCarl's Big Game Treestands Eagle and Danny Lasoski's Roth Motorsports Eagle to power his way into the $10,000 RacinSoles Victory Lane.
"I'm just glad to be in victory lane," said Schatz, of Fargo, N.D., who credited his late drive through traffic for helping him find the winning groove. "Today we got the breaks we needed. It started to lay rubber a little bit and if we hadn't been racing lapped cars I probably wouldn't have found it."
Schatz knew he dodged a bullet at the start of the race, as he was able to restart in his original second position, after being forced off the track. Though he obviously had a fast car, as was evident by his heat race win, as well as his second place run in the dash. Also, he turned in the fifth quickest lap in qualifying on the night.
"If that would have kept going, we would have had a lot of ground to make up," said Schatz. "I don't know if we could have gotten back that far. That's the way it goes. Someone else ran off there and I kind of got forced off. There really wasn't anything that I could do. I just got lucky that someone else stopped. That's how it goes, some nights it goes against us, tonight it went with us."
Lapped traffic came into play about halfway through the 30-lap feature with the torrid pace that Schatz was setting. This gave him a chance to try some different lines as he weaved his way in and out of traffic, as he tried to pull away from a persistent McCarl.
"There were a few cars that we caught (in lapped traffic) and that made me pick up the pace a little bit," Schatz said. "I needed to do that. I didn't feel any heat, but usually you can't tell where they are till they go by, and that's usually too late. It forced us to move around and I moved around and found rubber in turns three and four. That's what got us going. Once that happens, it awful hard to pass."
Not only does Schatz lead the point standings and have the most wins of any Mean 15 driver, but he also has led exactly 200 laps on the season, more than twice anyone else.
Always one to be realistic, he acknowledges that his fortunes can change anytime, and the team has to keep working hard.
"Tonight is over with," said Schatz. "We did a little testing and tried some stuff with our race car. We found some stuff for earlier in the night, and we also found some stuff that won't work in the feature. I guess it's a learning experience and we're glad we did it. We're glad we got to victory land and hopefully we'll be a little better tomorrow."
Lasoski, who was the fastest qualifier on the night, wound up second with McCarl third for his best finish with the World of Outlaws since returning to action after his left leg was broken on May 20 at Sharon Speedway. McCarl did earn a victory last week at Huset's Speedway in Brandon, S.D., where the Mean 15 drivers will compete on Monday.
"Last weekend, I really didn't get to race with the leg," said McCarl. "I was pretty disappointed with how Knoxville turned out. We jumped out of gear and bent some valves and qualified bad. All in all it was a good race tonight. My guys gave me a really good car."
McCarl was certainly happy to complete the entire distance of the feature, but pondered what could have been. He was quick to point out that he did not drive a perfect race, and that with the more laps he turns on his healing leg, the better he will feel in the car.
"I really had a car that was capable of winning and make a couple of mistakes early," said McCarl. "I let Donny get by, by going too high and I ran him back down and thought I could catch him. I never gave up and got back near him in traffic. I got my tires a little hot and missed the bottom and Danny got by me. The World of Outlaws are the toughest drivers in the world. If you make a mistake you get passed. That's the difference between local racing and racing with the Outlaws. You can make a mistake at a weekly show and get away with it, but with these guys, you can't."
The third place run, was his 10th Top-5 finish of the year, as he chases his first win of the season. He knows that it will take a lot more than just a healed left leg to make the trip to RacinSoles Victory Lane.
"I'm just trying to build my confidence," said McCarl. "When you get hurt, a driver's confidence is so fragile anyway, and when you get hurt that knocks it down. We were really coming to the top when I got hurt. We are going to finish the season strong. I refuse to look at points ever again this year. It's about winning the races, and the big races. I know we are the strongest team out here and as good as anybody. The driver just needs to step it up a little bit right now, and we'll get it done."
McCarl certainly looks forward to the next two events on 3/8-mile tracks, especially at Huset's Speedway on Monday night. He is a six-time track champion there, with a record 77 feature wins. He knows that winning is the best medicine to help him forget about the pain in his leg.
"In the car, when I push on the brake, it bounces a little bit, and I feel it," McCarl said. "I'm sure it will remind me in a few minutes that it's broken, when I get back to the motorhome."
Brooke Tatnell in the Race Outfitters/Castrol Eagle grabbed the fourth spot on the final lap with Craig Dollansky rounding out the top five in the Karavan Trailers Maxim.
Tatnell was up to the third spot on the initial start but had to go back to his third row starting spot as the field lined up after the caution. After racing their "retro" car at Knoxville last weekend, the team was back to one of their standard red machines tonight.
"I've had a lot of success here racing in the past," said Tatnell. "If the first start would have stayed, I would have been a lot happier, because I was up to third. We had a good race and we were able to get by Craig (Dollansky) on the last corner."
With the fourth place run, Tatnell now has 11Top-Five finishes on the year, and is looking forward to the rest of the weekend. He is especially confident for Monday's race at Huset's Speedway, where he won earlier in the season.
"We went through a few races with this new car and struggled," Tatnell said. "I think we are now back in the ballgame, and we have our program back together. We just have to keep passing cars. It was a great start to the weekend, and we definitely don't want to leave this weekend without a win."
Dollansky continued his strong season with his 12th Top-Five finish of the season. He is just outside the top-three in points. Never one to settle for a second or third place run, Dollansky got everything out of his car on Friday night, and gave it every once of energy that he had.
"We were running second and I tried to find another line to win the race," said Dollansky. "I went to the top and it was nothing but dust at that point. You just don't know until you give it a shot. We went up there and lost a position and I tried to get it back. We just went backwards from there. It was an alright run for us, but not what we were looking for."
Though he wanted to come out of the Wichita Twister Showdown with a win, Dollansky and his team took some positives from their fifth place run. They will use this to build on the momentum as they complete the trio of races this weekend on 3/8-mile tracks.
"I don't think we chose the right tire tonight and that hurt us a bit," said Dollansky. "We weren't the way we needed to be, but we were good enough to run top-three. It is what it is. We'll head on down the road for the next one."
Chad Kemenah, who currently leads the chase for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt, turned in a solid sixth-place effort in the Underground Utilities Inc. Eagle. Joey Saldana in the Mopar-powered Dodge/Curb Records JEI put on one of the best shows of the night, as he came all the way from the rear of the field to finish seventh. Saldana went to the back of the field after slipping over the banking on the start and bringing out the caution that allowed Schatz to hang onto his front row starting spot.
Jac Haudenschild in the Wright One Construction Maxim, Jeremy Campbell in the Americas Best Value Inn Maxim and Dion Hindi in the RealTruck.com/Sniper Tuning J&J completed the top 10.
The World of Outlaws Sprint Series wraps up their weekend in Kansas on Saturday with the Boot Hill Showdown at the always exciting Dodge City Raceway Park.
81 SPEEDWAY NOTEBOOK
* FAST QUALIFIER: Danny Lasoski paced the 27 cars in time trials with a lap around the 3/8-mile semi-banked oval at 13.726 seconds. For his qualifying effort, Lasoski earned five bonus points. The next four fastest qualifiers also earned bonus points, including Aaron Berryhill (4), Craig Dollansky (3), Terry McCarl (2), and Donny Schatz (1). Travis Whitney holds the track record of 13.240 seconds established on Aug. 20, 2004.
* QUALIFYING-EVENT WINNERS: Heat race winners included Mean 15 drivers: Donny Schatz and Daryn Pittman, as well as Ricky Logan. ... Terry McCarl picked up the win in the dash. ... Aaron Berryhill won the B-Main.
* MAIN EVENT WINNERS: There have been 13 different winners in 26 A-feature events to visit the RacinSoles Victory Lane with the World of Outlaws this season. The win list includes: Donny Schatz (March 9 at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 31 at Batesville Speedway, April 1 at I-55 Raceway, May 16 at Grandview Speedway, May 30 at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park, June 18 at Red River Valley Speedway, and June 30 at 81 Speedway), Jac Haudenschild (May 6 at U.S. 36 Raceway, May 20 at Sharon Speedway and June 14 at The Raceway @ Powercom Park), Joey Saldana (Feb. 10 at Volusia, June 4 at Terre Haute, and June 23 at Knoxville Raceway), Sammy Swindell (April 8 at Eldora Speedway and March 10 at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway), Brooke Tatnell (May 7 at Huset's Speedway and May 29 at Orange County Fair Speedway), Fred Rahmer (May 27 at Williams Grove), Craig Dollansky (April 15 at Tri-State Speedway), Paul McMahan (March 4 at USA Race Park), Danny Lasoski (March 3 at Manzanita), Chad Kemenah (Feb. 9 at Volusia), Kevin Swindell (May 24 at The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway) and Dean Jacobs (May 31 at Lernerville Speedway) and Daryn Pittman (June 10 at Eagle Raceway).
* PRELIMINARY FEATURE WINNERS: There have been four preliminary features run this season by the World of Outlaws. The winners list included: Donny Schatz who won the prelim night June 17 at Red River Valley, Fred Rahmer, who won the prelim night on May 26 at Williams Grove Speedway and Sammy Swindell, who won the prelim feature on April 7 at Eldora Speedway, and Daryn Pittman who won the prelim night at Eagle Raceway on June 9.
* 3/8-MILE WINNERS: 81 Speedway is a 3/8-mile oval. The series has now raced five times this season on a track that size. Winners include: Donny Schatz (Batesville Speedway and 81 Speedway), Jac Haudenschild (U.S. 36 Raceway and Sharon Speedway), and Paul McMahan (USA Race Park).
* ON TELEVISION: The Outdoor Channel will air at 8 p.m. (ET) on July 5 the finale from the Duel in the Dakotas at Red River Valley Speedway that ran on June 18. The Outdoor Channel is available nationwide through the DISH Network (Channel 153) and DIRECTV (Channel 606).