Donny Schatz swept the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series weekend on Friday night, as he scored his second victory in as many days at The Dirt Track as Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
It marked his 11th series victory at the half-mile raceway, and netted him a total of $30,000 in winnings on the weekend.
“All I can say is, I finally got to ‘Park It,’” said Schatz. “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 started on the outside of the first row for the 30-lap feature and took the lead from fellow series regular Logan Schuchart on the drop of the green flag. A caution came out with one lap completed, which regrouped the field, giving Schuchart a chance to reclaim the lead.
Schuchart quickly recovered on the restart to recapture the lead. From there, he built up a 1.115-second advantege. Behind him, Schatz found himself in a battle with Abreu.
Lap 12 was a pivotal moment, 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, but by this time, Schatz to a more than a two-second advantage.
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. But Abreu’s momentum caused him to tap the wall in turn four, slowing him down. Schatz took advantage of Abreu’s mistake and reclaimed the spot. But that changed when 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, and opened-up a 1.272-second lead. From there, he went on to score the win 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.”
The tour begins its California swing – seven events through five tracks – at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California on March 17-18. For more information, visit WoOSprint.com.
World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series
The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Las Vegas, NV
Race Results – March 10, 2017
1. 15-Donny Schatz
2. 24R-Rico Abreu
3. 1S-Logan Schuchart
4. 21-Brian Brown
5. 2-Shane Stewart
6. 5-David Gravel
7. 49-Brad Sweet
8. 18-Ian Madsen
9. 2M-Kerry Madsen
10. 9-Daryn Pittman
11. 11K-Kraig Kinser
12. 19-Brent Marks
13. 21X-Carson Macedo
14. W20-Greg Wilson
15. 4-Paul McMahan
16. 24-Terry McCarl
17. 7S-Jason Sides
18. 13JT-Mark Dobmeier
19. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild
20. 1A-Jacob Allen
21. 17-Joey Saldana
22. 13-Clyde Knipp
23. 41-Jason Johnson
24. 49X-Tim Shaffer
25. 29-Willie Croft