Schatz Wins Williams Grove National Open By Richard Day MECHANICSBURG, PA (September 30) -- It was only a matter of time before Donny Schatz returned to victory lane. The Pennzoil World of Outlaws ...
Schatz Wins Williams Grove National Open
By Richard Day
MECHANICSBURG, PA (September 30) -- It was only a matter of time before Donny Schatz returned to victory lane. The Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series 1997 Rookie of the Year was the hottest driver in sprint car racing the final two weeks of last season. He also won a record six straight World Series of Sprint Cars races in Australia last December. The first five months of the 2000 season were tough for Schatz, however. His crew members quit, forcing him to be his own mechanic. Hiring Kenny Woodruff before the Amoco Knoxville Nationals turned his situation around in a hurry. He led 24 of 30 laps and finished second at the Nationals, then ran in the top 10 in the next eight events. Schatz won his first "A" Feature of the year Saturday, passing Williams Grove track champion Fred Rahmer early in the 27th lap and holding off Cris Eash to win the Williams Grove National Open. "This is just awesome," Schatz yelled to the sellout crowd. "I've never run very good here in Pennsylvania, but this car was so good tonight that I think anyone could have driven it. We made some major changes before the feature, and it worked out pretty good. "Kenny Woodruff has probably been responsible for 99% of (our recent success). He's got the motors running good, and we're trying some things with these new J&J cars. "It seems like these races at the end of the year are the ones you remember when the season's done, so we'll just go on down the road and try to get another one in Charlotte, then Texas and Vegas. "I want to thank Parker Stores, Blue Beacon and Featherlite for all their support this season. We haven't been up front as much, but they've been there through it all." Schatz, the fifth-fastest qualifier in time trials, beat Vivarin Fast-Time Award winner Sammy Swindell across the finish line in the First NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race for a starting position in the CHANNELLOCK Dash. He earned the right to start the 40-lap main event inside the fourth row by finishing seventh in the six-lap race. Rahmer burst into the lead from the pole as the green flag fell in the championship feature. Preliminary Feature winner Steve Kinser, who has won 22 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series main events at Williams Grove Speedway, took over second place with a high move around Danny Lasoski early in the third lap. Rahmer was four car-lengths ahead of the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader six laps into the race. Kinser caught Rahmer the next time around, and threatened to take the lead several times before his #11 Quaker State Maxim hit a spinning Dean Jacobs in turn four and flipped late in the 12th lap. Schatz started making his way toward the front when the green flag replaced the red, steering the #15 Parker Stores J&J low in the second corner to pass Third NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race winner Jac Haudenschild and winning a back-straightaway drag race with Johnny Herrera and Lasoski to take over second place the next time around. A last-place finish in the Second NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race notwithstanding, Eash qualified for the main event by finishing second in the "B" Feature. The 1987 World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year started outside the fifth row and raced into third place by lap 17. Kinser tightened the field when he stopped in turn two with a flat tire one lap later. Two-time Williams Grove track champion Keith Kauffman raced past 16 cars during the first half of the race. He passed 1996 National Open champion Lance Dewease early in lap 21, then took the high line around Herrera for fourth place 4 1/2 laps later. Schatz chased Rahmer for 13 laps before riding the rim around the first and second corners to take the lead. Kauffman followed Schatz' lead, passing Eash and Rahmer in the high groove within four laps. Rahmer surrendered third place late in the 32nd lap, stopping on the back straightaway with a flat right front tire. Defending National Open champion Mark Kinser raced toward the front after the race resumed, steering the #5M Mopar Maxim into the low groove between turns one and two to pass Herrera and Eash. Mechanicsburg resident Brian Paulus set up a two-lap dash to the checkered flag when he stopped in the second corner with a flat left rear tire late in the 39th lap. Kauffman tried to take over first place with a slide job in turn two, but Schatz surged ahead. Mark Kinser used a similar move on Kauffman several seconds later, but they collided and flipped in turn three. "Keith just ran her down across there, but I didn't think he'd be able to get by us because our Goodyear tires were working pretty good," Schatz said. Eash made a last-lap run at Schatz in the third corner, but was three car-lengths behind when Donny claimed the $25,000 first prize. Herrera finished in third place, ahead of Dewease, Lasoski, Sean Michael, Swindell, Tim Shaffer, Dale Blaney and 23rd-starting Andy Hillenburg. The Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series will sanction the $102,670 TALK.com Outlaws Championship at The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway Thursday and Friday. WoO x