Schatz Wins Wirtgen Shootout Opener By Richard Day MECHANICSBURG, PA (May 17) -- After winning the Williams Grove National Open last fall, Donny Schatz admitted there had been times when he hated racing at Williams Grove Speedway. Schatz' ...
Schatz Wins Wirtgen Shootout Opener
By Richard Day
MECHANICSBURG, PA (May 17) -- After winning the Williams Grove National Open last fall, Donny Schatz admitted there had been times when he hated racing at Williams Grove Speedway. Schatz' attitude toward the legendary half-mile oval has since changed, however.
Schatz won his second straight race at Williams Grove Speedway Thursday, leading the final 22 1/4 laps to claim the Preliminary Feature as the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened the Wirtgen Shootout.
"It all goes back to the man turning the wrenches on the car," Donny said graciously. "Kenny Woodruff is the best there is, and this car was where it belonged -- out in front on these long straightaways.
"I was pretty good up high at the National Open, so that's where I stayed pretty much the whole race. I sometimes think the guys who aren't locked in (into the CHANNELLOCK Dash in the feature program) have a little bit of an advantage because they get a little better look at the track in time trials and the heats, but we'll just come back here tomorrow night and try to get another one."
Schatz, the third-fastest qualifier in the 48-car field, won the Third O'Reilly Heat Race and earned the privilege of starting the 25- lap Preliminary Feature on the front row by following Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Mark Kinser across the finish line in the CHANNELLOCK Dash.
Kinser burst into the lead as the green flag fell in the evening's main event, but Schatz drove the #15 Parker Stores J&J past him in the low groove between the first and second corners. Kinser collided with Danny Lasoski on the back straightaway and spun into Greg Hodnett, who flipped. Fred Rahmer also flipped, while Todd Shaffer, James Chesson, Steve Kinser and Danny Wood collided while trying to avoid the crash.
"I knew Mark (Kinser) would be pretty hard to beat if he got out in front of us, so I did what I had to do to get the lead there in (turns) one and two," Schatz said. "Then some stuff happened behind us and that put us back double file for a restart."
Lasoski restarted on the pole and drove NASCAR Winston Cup star Tony Stewart's #20L J.D. Byrider Eagle into first place as the race resumed. Schatz raced wheel-to-wheel with "The Dude" through turns one and two, then took the lead high in the fourth corner late in lap three.
The leaders were approaching lapped traffic when Randy Hannagan spun in turn one two laps later. Fast-qualifier Don Kreitz, Jr., and Williams Grove Speedway points leader Lance Dewease exchanged fourth place twice within a lap after the green flag replaced the yellow.
Lasoski raced with Schatz through turns three and four late in lap seven, but was unable to surge ahead. Schatz was .8 seconds ahead of "The Dude" when they entered lapped traffic eight laps later. Lasoski tried to pass Schatz deep in the fourth corner again, but the 1997 Rookie of the Year maintained the lead.
Curt Michael passed Fourth O'Reilly Heat Race winner Paul McMahan for fourth place with an inside move through turns one and two early in the 16th lap. Kreitz passed McMahan in the same spot one lap later.
Michael exchanged third place with Dewease during the 22nd and 23rd laps as Schatz built a comfortable advantage. Schatz won his first Preliminary Feature of the season with 1.8 seconds to spare. The $5,000 victory pushed Schatz into eighth place in the point standings.
"It hurts (having not won a race at Williams Grove)," Lasoski said. "It bothers me more than you know. We had a pretty good car tonight, but Donny's one of the best young drivers out there. He's strong and in good shape, so he was able to get that car around the top the whole time without making a mistake.
"The main thing is getting locked in tomorrow night so we can just watch the race track, try to be a little better prepared than everyone else and go out and win that first one (at Williams Grove)."
Dewease and Michael claimed the second-row starting positions in Friday's CHANNELLOCK Dash by finishing third and fourth, respective. Kreitz finished in fifth place, ahead of Brad Furr, McMahan, P.J. Chesson, 15th-starting Cris Eash and Mark Kinser.
The #2F Sanmina Eagle turned over during the Fourth O'Reilly Heat Race, costing Furr a spot in the CHANNELLOCK Dash. The Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year points leader followed Steve Kinser across the finish line in the "B" Feature to claim the sixth row inside starting position in the evening's main event.
Andy Hillenburg used a provisional to start the Preliminary Feature and drove his #2 Luxaire J&J past 11 cars to finish 15th. The outstanding run enabled Hillenburg to pass Joey Saldana for fifth place in the standings.