By: Brendan Capria (World of Outlaws PR)
LAS VEGAS – In front of a nearly packed grandstand, local fans and beyond witnessed an exciting performance from one of the World of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series’ most elite drivers, Donny Schatz. Not only were members of the Nellis Air Force Base in attendance to witness their racing heroes fly around The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but the drivers were also racing on the fast-action track as a salute to America’s servicemen and women in the final night of the FVP Outlaw Showdown.
Schatz not only won his 11th series race at the half-mile, but also swept the event. Schatz doubled his $15,000 purse from the opener, collecting a total of $30,000 in winnings at Vegas. The North Dakota native was awarded the “Badlands Bonus” for both shows, as well as a gold-toned tool set commemorating Craftsman Tool’s 90th anniversary. He also took a pair of slot-machine trophies home to Fargo, N.D., one for each of his victories. Since the season opener in mid-February, Schatz has won five of the first six shows in 2017 – a personal best to start a World of Outlaws season.
“All I can say is, I finally got to ‘Park It,’” said Schatz in front of a roaring crowd. “We had something happen there in the mid-part of the race – I just couldn’t get into rhythm. I tried to get through lapped traffic and Rico [Abreu] obviously got by us there on the restart. I got in good position to get out front and had clear track after that. It’s been tricky here, but if it was easy then it wouldn’t be fun for any of us. I was a little nervous when he got by. Every time I get into this car, it’s unbelievable.
When you get to when you win 25 or 30 races in a season, it’s expected of you. These guys work so hard to do that, and for the driver it’s the same way. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re at…you have to work on your flaws. We’ve never started strong. We’re working on that flaw, and it’s worked so far.”
Schatz, who spent the majority of his time skimming the top cushion, started on the outside of the first row for the 30-lap feature. Earlier in the program, Schatz won his heat race after a thrilling pass entering turn three in the closing laps. Though he made the pass from the bottom in his heat, Schatz laid his tracks on the outside for the feature. This proved to give Schatz’s No. 15 Tony Stewart-Curb/Agajanian Racingcar enough of a surge to thunder down the front straightaway faster than those around him. Schatz took the lead from fellow series regular Logan Schuchart almost instantaneously to when the green flag dropped; however, Schuchart did not accept an early defeat. A yellow flag followed with one lap completed, which regrouped the field – giving Schuchart a chance to reclaim the lead in his No. 1s Marty Thompson Investments/Newman’s Towing & Recovery car.
In Schuchart’s eight appearances at the track, his best finish was Thursday night when he recorded a top-five finish. By virtue of the Craftsman Club® Dash, Schuchart went on to lead the field into the green flag for the first time since September 24, 2016 at Lernerville Speedway. Though Schatz had the upper-hand – momentarily – Schuchart quickly recovered on the restart by using the extra momentum exiting turn two to recapture the lead. Thereon, he created a 1.115-second buffer. While Schuchart progressed, Schatz regressed into a battle with Abreu. Abreu climbed 19 positions Thursday night to finish third in the feature; he started third Friday night.
Lap 12 was one of the most pivotal moments of the feature, as Schuchart, Abreu and Schatz spread nearly three-wide across the front stretch. The three virtually locked wheels – a few feet from one another. Schatz reaction time was the quickest of the three, as he weaved through Schuchart and Abreu for the lead entering turn one. Two laps later, Abreu overtook Schuchart in turn two; by this time, Schatz increased his lead to more than a two-second margin.
While Schuchart faded in third position, Abreu continued to gain ground on Schatz. By lap 21, Abreu attempted a risky maneuver by jumping the cushion in turn two. Abreu’s move was successful, as he was able to carry enough speed to pass Schatz in turn four. The shear speed of his No. 24R Abreu Vineyards/Priority Aviation car though caused him to tap the wall in turn four, breaking his momentum. Schatz took advantage of Abreu’s mistake and reclaimed the spot – until a yellow flag regrouped the field. Abreu was still .053-seconds ahead of Schatz when the two crossed the line, so Abreu retained the top spot because of the caution.
“I was just thinking about what to do to stay ahead,” said Abreu, who leaves Vegas with two podium finishes. “Just some poor decisions there at the end of the race on my part. I just live and learn. You learn so much racing with the Outlaws. The pace is so fast, so you try your hardest every lap. When you’re trying really hard, it’s easy to make mistakes. I felt like once we got to traffic and I got passed Donny, I just made bad decisions behind lapped cars. I just get so nervous trying to clear guys – to try not to clear them too far to blow through the cushion and hit the wall. We’re knocking on the door and everyone is chasing this No. 15 Arctic Cat car.”
His lead was quickly thwarted. Abreu chose the bottom on the restart. Schatz, who was continually strong from the top, beat Abreu on the restart. He never looked back. Schatz opened-up a 1.272-second lead over Abreu, and finished the feature ahead of the pack by nearly the same margin. Schuchart rounded-out the podium – a personal best at the track.
“Any time you’re improving, that’s key,” Schuchart said. “We’ve been here a couple times and really haven’t had good finishes. Our season started really slow, but we got our engine working really good, and our guys are doing great. We had a good car this week, and we improved every night. But any time you start on the pole and go backward, it’s not what you want to happen. The World of Outlaws is a very tough group of drivers and teams, and to be sitting out here…you know you did a good job.”
By sweeping the Vegas stretch, Schatz is the only driver eligible for another $10,000 from Badlands Motor Speedway’s bonus system. He will attempt that feat at the Outlaw FanFest on July 1-2 at Badlands Motor Speedway. Schatz joking said, “Yeah, no pressure. But we feed off of that.”
“Ironically enough, we did win the last race there,” said Schatz, who won the finale in 2016. “It’s been a great place there. I’ve always cut my teeth there back in the day – I’ve wrecked a lot of equipment there. So, it’s fun to go there and get those victories. If we can get back there and do it again, it’ll be extra-special.”
The World of Outlaws acknowledged more than a half-dozen members of the United States Air Force at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Airmen and women took part in pre-race ceremonies before heat races were underway. During the ceremony, thousands of fans stood to their feet, giving them a standing ovation for their service. A deafening “U-S-A” chant echoed throughout the facility. On Thursday morning, drivers took a tour of the base – filled with advanced aviation technology – in hopes of reaching high-octane speeds like the fighter jets circling the Las Vegas Motor Speedway complex.
The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Notebook
RACE NOTES: In an instant-classic, Donny Schatz battled the podium to win the FVP Outlaw Showdown finale at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Rico Abreu, who led the race late, made contact with the turn four wall in the closing laps. His mistake gave way for Schatz to secure the lead. Logan Schuchart, who led the field into the green flag, rounded-out the podium for his best finish at the track.
CONTINGENCY WINNERS: MSD Ignitions ($25 cash): Jason Johnson; MSD Ignitions ($50 cash): Donny Schatz; Penske Shocks ($50 cash): Brent Marks; JE Pistons ($50 cash): Shane Stewart; VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash): Daryn Pittman; VP Racing ($50 cash):Daryn Pittman; Edelbrock ($50 cash): Daryn Pittman; Comp Cams ($50 cash): Brent Marks;Cometic Gaskets ($50 cash):Greg Wilson; Super Flow ($50 cash): Logan Schuchart; Craftsman Club Fast Five ($100 cash): David Gravel, Kraig Kinser, Greg Wilson;Craftsman/Sears: Rico Abreu; KSE Hard Charger: Carson Macedo; Comp Cams ($50 product certificate): Donny Schatz; JE Pistons (Set of Rings): Terry McCarl; JE Pistons (Set of Rings): Joey Saldana
SEASON WINNERS: Donny Schatz – 5 (Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 19, Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 19, LoneStar Speedway on March 3, The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 9, The Dirt Track at Las Vegas on March 10);Jason Johnson – 1 (Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 17)
World of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series Statistical Report; The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Nev.; March 10, 2017
Feature – (30 Laps) – 1. 15-Donny Schatz  [$10,000]; 2. 24R-Rico Abreu  [$5,000]; 3. 1S-Logan Schuchart  [$3,000]; 4. 21-Brian Brown  [$2,700]; 5. 2-Shane Stewart  [$2,500]; 6. 5-David Gravel  [$2,200]; 7. 49-Brad Sweet  [$2,000]; 8. 18-Ian Madsen  [$1,800]; 9. 2M-Kerry Madsen  [$1,600]; 10. 9-Daryn Pittman  [$1,450]; 11. 11K-Kraig Kinser  [$1,300]; 12. 19-Brent Marks  [$1,200]; 13. 21X-Carson Macedo  [$1,100]; 14. W20-Greg Wilson  [$1,000]; 15. 4-Paul McMahan  [$950]; 16. 24-Terry McCarl  [$900]; 17. 7S-Jason Sides  [$850]; 18. 13JT-Mark Dobmeier  [$750]; 19. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild  [$725]; 20. 1A-Jacob Allen  [$700]; 21. 17-Joey Saldana  [$700]; 22. 13-Clyde Knipp  [$]; 23. 41-Jason Johnson  [$700]; 24. 49X-Tim Shaffer  [$700]; 25. 29-Willie Croft  [$700]; Lap Leaders: Logan Schuchart 1-12; Donny Schatz 13-20, 24-30; Rico Abreu 21-23; KSE Hard Charger Award: 21X-Carson Macedo [+11]
Qualifying – 1. 2M-Kerry Madsen, 14.228; 2. 21-Brian Brown, 14.241; 3. 18-Ian Madsen, 14.244; 4. 4-Paul McMahan, 14.386; 5. 17-Joey Saldana, 14.458; 6. W20-Greg Wilson, 14.505; 7. 24R-Rico Abreu, 14.576; 8. 49X-Tim Shaffer, 14.685; 9. 29-Willie Croft, 14.700; 10. 82-Kevin Thomas Jr, 14.768; 11. 1A-Jacob Allen, 14.781; 12. 17B-Josh Baughman, 14.796; 13. 21X-Carson Macedo, 14.859; 14. 41X-Dominic Scelzi, 14.906; 15. 18S-Jason Solwold, 14.917; 16. 24-Terry McCarl, 14.952; 17. 49D-Shawn Dancer, 14.970; 18. 51-James McFadden, 15.005; 19. 22-Cori Andrews, 15.361; 20. 99T-Skylar Gee, 15.399; 21. 21P-Robbie Price, 15.432; 22. 5-David Gravel, 14.554; 23. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 14.670; 24. 1S-Logan Schuchart, 14.710; 25. 7S-Jason Sides, 14.730; 26. 49-Brad Sweet, 14.741; 27. 15-Donny Schatz, 14.742; 28. 2-Shane Stewart, 14.755; 29. 41-Jason Johnson, 14.792; 30. 9-Daryn Pittman, 14.813; 31. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild, 14.830; 32. 13-Clyde Knipp, 14.980; 33. 19-Brent Marks, 15.038; 34. 13JT-Mark Dobmeier, 15.046; 35. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 15.074; 36. 2X-Parker Price-Miller, 15.124; 37. O-Bud Kaeding, 15.137; 38. 3C-DJ Netto, 15.244; 39. 73-Brady Bacon, 15.603; 40. Y69-Randy Waitman, 15.858; 41. 90-Lance Norick, 15.881
Heat 1- (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the feature) – 1. 2M-Kerry Madsen ; 2. 24R-Rico Abreu ; 3. 18-Ian Madsen ; 4. 17-Joey Saldana ; 5. 29-Willie Croft ; 6. 21X-Carson Macedo ; 7. 18S-Jason Solwold ; 8. 49D-Shawn Dancer ; 9. 1A-Jacob Allen ; 10. 21P-Robbie Price ; 11. 22-Cori Andrews 
Heat 2 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the feature) – 1. W20-Greg Wilson ; 2. 21-Brian Brown ; 3. 49X-Tim Shaffer ; 4. 4-Paul McMahan ; 5. 24-Terry McCarl ; 6. 51-James McFadden ; 7. 17B-Josh Baughman ; 8. 41X-Dominic Scelzi ; 9. 82-Kevin Thomas Jr ; 10. 99T-Skylar Gee 
Heat 3 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature) – 1. 5-David Gravel ; 2. 1S-Logan Schuchart ; 3. 49-Brad Sweet ; 4. 2-Shane Stewart ; 5. 9-Daryn Pittman ; 6. 13JT-Mark Dobmeier ; 7. 3C-DJ Netto ; 8. 2X-Parker Price-Miller ; 9. 13-Clyde Knipp ; 10. Y69-Randy Waitman 
Heat 4 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature) – 1. 15-Donny Schatz ; 2. 11K-Kraig Kinser ; 3. 7S-Jason Sides ; 4. 41-Jason Johnson ; 5. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild ; 6. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 7. 19-Brent Marks ; 8. O-Bud Kaeding ; 9. 73-Brady Bacon ; 10. 90-Lance Norick 
Craftsman Club Dash – (6 Laps, finishing order determined first 8 starting positions of feature) – 1. 1S-Logan Schuchart ; 2. 15-Donny Schatz ; 3. 24R-Rico Abreu ; 4. 5-David Gravel ; 5. 2M-Kerry Madsen ; 6. 21-Brian Brown ; 7. 11K-Kraig Kinser ; 8. W20-Greg Wilson 
C-Main – (10 Laps – Top 2 finishers transfer to the Last Chance Showdown) – 1. 51-James McFadden  [-]; 2. 3C-DJ Netto  [-]; 3. 49D-Shawn Dancer  [$150]; 4. 73-Brady Bacon  [$150]; 5. 99T-Skylar Gee  [$150]; 6. 21P-Robbie Price  [$125]; 7. 90-Lance Norick  [$125]; 8. 22-Cori Andrews  [$125]; 9. Y69-Randy Waitman  [$125]
Last Chance Showdown – (12 Laps – Top 4 finishers transfer to the feature) – 1. 19-Brent Marks  [-]; 2. 1A-Jacob Allen  [-]; 3. 13JT-Mark Dobmeier  [-]; 4. 21X-Carson Macedo  [-]; 5. 82-Kevin Thomas Jr  [$300]; 6. 51-James McFadden  [$250]; 7. O-Bud Kaeding  [$225]; 8. 17B-Josh Baughman  [$200]; 9. 18S-Jason Solwold  [$200]; 10. 3C-DJ Netto  [$200]; 11. 41X-Dominic Scelzi  [$200]; 12. 2X-Parker Price-Miller  [$200]; 13. 87-Aaron Reutzel  [$200]; 14. 13-Clyde Knipp  [$200]
Unofficial World of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series Championship Standings
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