Makin’ Tracks – Finally It’s Gator Time for Donny Schatz – DTD Exclusive


Believe it or not, Donny Schatz, despite his numerous wins at Volusia, had never won the big gator nationals crown until this Saturday night.

After winning for the fourth time in five nights there he stood holding “Walter”, a live gator, before Brian Carter presented him with his first official full size gator trophy.

It might have appeared that Schatz, who started fourth on the grid, would run away with this thing. However, Brian Brown got past him on a seventh lap restart after Rico Abreau had spun.

It didn’t take much longer as two laps later Schatz, who seems to own the third and fourth turn, went low coming out of four to take the lead for good.

From the 13th starting position Sheldon Haudenschild got past Jason Johnson on lap 17 and set his sights on Schatz.

Schatz noted, “I slowed down a whole bunch and couldn’t’ get through traffic. Some nights you don’t have a perfect car, but you still win. I got a gator and I’ve never won a gator before. Four wins in five nights is pretty incredible.”

With four laps to go Brad Sweet got past Sheldon and he was in pursuit.

However, a moment to make the pass of Schatz never came.

Sweet noted, “We were kind of weak earlier this week, but the car is going pretty good. Donny makes us better and we need to keep working. We made lots of changes during the week and tonight the car was spot on. I guess four out of five nights in the top five is pretty good. I am not ashamed to finish second to Donny. Those lapped cars didn’t play in our favor and it got away from us a bit.”

Haudenschild, coming off a win on Friday, thought he had a shot when he found Schatz between himself and the lead.

Sheldon said, “Getting to him and passing him is a whole different thing. I got up to him and could see what he was doing, but he got through traffic really well and motors away. Then Brad got underneath us.”

Well, the Sprints are over at Volusia for 2018 and a new look will come in on Tuesday night as the Super DIRTcar Series Modifieds will hit the track with the regional DIRTcar Late Models in competition.

From Wednesday thru Saturday it will be the SDS machines and the WoO Late Models in four consecutive nightly doubleheaders.

Action might not be as fast as the 12 second laps that were witnessed this weekend, but you can count on plenty, and I mean plenty, of racing action in those potent twinbills.

Pit Stops

The night started out poorly for Tim Shaffer as he was the fastest time in hot laps, but as the session ended he headed for the pits between the first and second turn with power plant problems. He came out and had just one lap to go and ended up 22nd out of 31 cars…

Not back on Sunday night were Kasey Kahne, Caleb Helms (who appeared to lose a motor on Saturday) along with Cale Conley. With the reduction in numbers, as Danny Dietrich left after a motor went on Friday and the departure of George Hobaugh it meant three instead of four heats…

Heats went to Shane Stewart, Donny Schatz and Jason Johnson…

Stewart in his interview in victory lane talked about how successful he’s been in the prelims, but not in the mains. He explained, “I just can’t get through one and two on the bottom. I’ve made a lot of mistakes that have cost us several spots. They guys are getting me comfortable in the car.”…

The difference between fifth and sixth in the third and final heat between Chad Kemenah and David Gravel was two-hundredth’s of a second…

There haven’t been many red flags, but as the field hit turn one on the B-Main Brent Marks and Daryn Pitman were involved and the 19 of Marks backed full bore into the concrete, the tail was hanging and the entire left suspension bending, folding and was totally mutilated as he ended up on his side.

It ended up knocking out the light and got the new fence…

The starting fields in the World of Outlaws change as quickly as the weather in Upstate New York. Not qualifying through racing (not including provisionals) were Daryn Pitman, Corey Eliason and Marks. The last chance race saw Trey Sparks win followed by Kerry Madsen, Friday fast-timer Logan Schuchart, Kraig Kinser, Jacob Allen and Lucas Wolfe (getting in the main for the second consecutive night)…

Prior to the feature Kyle Larson replaced a motor as his original mount was smoking heavily as he earned his heat qualifying run…

In the final feature Schatz, Sweet and Haudenschild were followed across the line by Jason Johnson, Chad Kemenah (who will carry the major portion of the Arctic Cat All Star incentive bonuses that were put up for the top ten from that organization), Shane Stewart, Brian Brown, Paul McMahan, David Gravel and Parker Price-Miller…

The major UMP Gator Championship with $5,000 to win is on tap for Monday night along with the DIRTcar Late Models. Nick Hoffman led the field to the final qualifier on Sunday night. Justin Allgair along with Kenny Wallace also are guaranteed from finishing in the top 10 while Kenny Schrader, having troubles early, finished, but not in a qualifying spot and he will be forced to run the entire program to get in through the last chance.

Well, keep following DTD throughout the week for coverage as George and GT Smith are filling our gallery with outstanding photos of the nightly action while Rick Neff and Terry Page will make their way to Volusia from East Bay Raceway Park and Bubba Raceway.

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