ROSSBURG, OH – The 35th edition of the Kings Royal at the famed Eldora Speedway had many twists, turns, stories and memories. Yes, that Donny Schatz guy did what Donny Schatz does. He continues to set records by winning his third consecutive $50,000 top prize.
We will let Mike Mallett tell you about his run towards glory…We on the other had trekked down second thru fourth with all three having their own quotes to share.
As mentioned earlier each Kings Royal has so many scenarios however this version of the Royal will be most remembered for Schatz winning and Brad Sweet’s run on the last lap closing to within half a car length of the victory. (Well, there’s that $50,199 50/50 prize as well). The final laps seemed to be a good ole cat and mouse game that kept the attention of the largest Kings Royal crowd ever.
Sweet swept by Cory Eliason with 12 to go as he stayed right against the wall and you can see with the naked eye that his line was indeed a bit faster than the middle to bottom groove Schatz is famous for. As the laps clicked by it all came down to the final two corners of the last lap.
“It’s tough when you come up a tenth short to Donny Schatz with a faster car to take second. Look at the last lap when I did a 16.7 vs. his 17.4 it’s a heartbreaker,” Sweet said as a matter of fact. “I think I needed one more lap with a couple of things go different we probably would have won it.”
One part of the final stages that caught the eye was Sweet trying to get by his teammate Daryn Pittman. He did do so going into one on lap 33 only to have Pittman go back around him down the back stretch.
“Just looking back that might have gotten me to him (Schatz) one lap sooner,” he continued. “Daryn probably didn’t know I was running the top and I’m sure he wants to do the right thing being a teammate so I can’t be mad at him. I’m just frustrated at the situation but my job is to pass the lap cars too.”
Sweet won this event in 2013 and coming off a third, third and now second the last three years.
“We’re knocking on the door and we are right there so it shows we have great race cars,” Sweet then talked about his line that saw him close in. “When you have great race cars you can run the top and tonight it handled well so I was able to have good speed up there.”
Eliason a Surprise Podium
The two nights leading up to the Kings Royal finale’ Visalia, California’s Cory Eliason would simply like to forget.
“This was a lot better than coming from the C-Main to B-Mains like we did Thursday and Friday,” he said with a smile. “We just decided last night to get back to basics since I only have been here twice and it turned into a perfect podium finish for us.”
Eliason ended up on the pole for his heat with the unique Kings Royal qualifying format and he wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip by.
“We got a good time for when we went out and made sure we got a good heat race to start the A in sixth,” Cory reflected back on the night. “We got up to second there and battled with the 15 (Schatz) for a couple of laps. Then with 10 or 12 to go had to battle with Brad.”
During those laps, Eliason switched lanes with the Roth No. 83, “I moved down as I saw Donnie running there and felt I was at least keeping up with him,” then when Sweet went by he told of another change. “But when Brad went by I went back up to the top as I got my tires to hot too quick and I just felt comfortable up there. It’s unique because when you run up there hard you say to yourself to keep going until you get a flat tire or junk it but glad that didn’t happen.”
The plans for Cory Eliason are a bit uncertain. With his success early in Florida, California and Arizona it was decided to keep him on the Outlaw tour. Only missing two shows coming into Eldora a team decision might be needed.
“We were kind of planning to concentrate on Knoxville to get ready for the Nationals but maybe this run tonight might change things,” he said.
Jacobs Has Another Strong Kings Royal Run
Ohio native Lee Jacobs has been all smiles for the second year in a row after the 40 lap A-Main concluded. This year he came from 16th to finish in fourth and take home $12,500 which could very well be a career high pay day.
“This feels good. Today in talking to the guys all we wanted to do is qualify in the top 30 and then get in the show,” he said shortly after sipping on a well deserved Bud Light. “I knew we can get this thing good enough to get it up front. AJ Havens has given me a great car two years in a row now, it was a lot of fun driving that thing.”
Jacobs was happy to go on, “These guys have stuck behind me when we struggled and we just keep on digging. It’s showing right now, especially in this race with all talent in this field,”
Lee is truly happy to keep the Jacobs name in the forefront at Eldora but with two fine finishes in a row is it time to start thinking on what you need to do to maybe park his familiar No. 81 on the podium or victory lane?
“I think a starting position is key although we did have a good one last year, but it’s key,” he continued, “This year we had a motor that stumbled on the start in the heat where I think we could have won it.
“So it can be a combination of things that can hurt you but that’s what makes this race special and when you do well it’s so rewarding,” Lee went on, “It’s just spectacular on what this team has done here, hats off to everyone that works so hard.”
KINGS ROYAL NIGHT #3 Notes
51 sprints made up the pit log. New entries were Christopher Bell, who won the Xfinity Series race the night before at Kentucky and Ryan Ruhl…
Bell was running fourth when all of a sudden he pulled into the pits on lap 27 with a mechanical failure…
Jess Stiger was the cause of the only red flag in the three nights when he car burst into flames during the C-Main. He climbed out quickly and when his drivers suit showed signs of burns he was fine…
22 of the 24 cars started finished the A-Main…
Rico Abreu passed Logan Schuchart on the last corner of the last lap to take the last qualifying spot in the B-Main. He wasn’t done passing cars there has he moved through the field to take ninth in the final run down…
Carson Macedo saw his car jump out of gear after his first lap in time trials. The motor revved to a high pitch. It was decided best to keep the car parked for the rest of the night.