Victory Moves Schatz Back on Top
FARMER CITY, Ill. (April 25, 2012) There were nearly a half-dozen drivers within striking distance of the lead eight laps into the World of Outlaws feature at Farmer City Raceway on Wednesday.
As the competitors banged wheels and narrowly negotiated lapped traffic, the packed stands took advantage of the first World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series event at the high-banked, quarter-mile oval since 2003.
“When we got to lapped traffic the first go-around, there were four or five guys that could have got the lead at any point,” four-time Outlaws champion Donny Schatz said. “It was like a hornets nest. We needed to stay out of that situation and that we did. When the race restarted those guys were all beating and banging on each other around there, and I just stayed out of the way on the bottom and got through there.”
The excitement elevated a few levels on a restart following a caution on lap 13 when Shane Stewart and Cody Darrah collided in turn two. Polesitter Kerry Madsen, who led from the drop of the initial green flag, and runner-up Daryn Pittman spun in turn one in front of the field.
Sammy Swindell, who was running fourth, had nowhere to go and skidded into the duo as they slid toward the middle of the track. Third-running Craig Dollansky slid off the top of the track and nearly tipped over during the process to avoid the melee as cars were sideways trying to avoid the mess.
Schatz was there to capitalize. After restarting fifth and maneuvering through the mess, he inherited the lead. Schatz led the final 28 laps of the race to become the first three-time winner this season.
“On the start I got next to Dollansky and he got a good run off into the corner and I needed to slow down because I saw cars in front of us,” he said. “I just went to the bottom and was lucky enough to miss them.
“It doesn’t help to have guys fall out in front of you. We like earning these races. We’ve earned plenty of them, but we’ve had them go that way against us (as well). You had to be smart and stay out of the trouble, and that we did.”
The race was anything but over at that point. Brad Sweet, who went from sixth to second during that restart, stayed within a car length of Schatz for most of the race as the track slicked off with each completed lap.
“I’d like to try it over again,” Sweet said after a season-best second-place finish. “I don’t really know if I could have done anything different. I was just really trying to take care of my tires. It was really slick down in turns one and two. When I was coming off (turn) two I was just trying to take care of my tires and it was kind of on the cushion in (turns) three and four.
“Donny just never made a mistake. I was right there. If he would have made one little mistake or we got some traffic, I think we could have at least made a race out of it. I don’t know if we would have been able to beat him or not.”
Schatz’s victory combined with Swindell’s low finish allowed the duo to swap the points lead. Schatz now leads by five points with Kraig Kinser third – 27 points back – and Saldana fourth – 40 points behind Schatz.