LAS VEGAS – Defending World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz has always loved coming to Las Vegas. Even during his first couple of season’s chasing the Outlaw tour when he had more success at the slot machines at the Monte Carlo than he did on The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the North Dakota driver knew you could make things happen in Sin City.
The five-time WoO champion proved Wednesday night he can rip the top with the best of them as he hustled the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J around the cushion during Wednesday’s A-Feature. While Jason Sides had the bottom groove covered, Schatz raced just about all 30 laps of the A-Feature around the high side and zoomed to his first WoO victory of 2013, his seventh overall at LVMS and 125th WoO A-Feature of his career.
“It’s always hardest to get the first win of the season out of the way,” admitted Schatz following the triumph. “Las Vegas is a great place to get things going in the right direction. I know I’m wore out. This was a tough race. The wind was really tricky, and I just couldn’t get my car to roll the bottom. Jason was able to stay down there and I just had to keep running my line. I went down there on the restart and Kyle (Larson) was able to get us both, but I knew I just had to go back up to the top and keep working. Lapped traffic helped us there at the end and I used it to my advantage. It feels good to win. My STP crew worked really hard tonight,and we’re going to come back tomorrow and see if we can get another one.”
Schatz opened the night by turning the 14th-best lap in qualifying in the field of 41 cars. He raced to victory in the second heat and finished second to Sides in the six-lap dash. The Fargo, N.D. racer used his outside front row starting position to his advantage and led the first 17 laps of the 30-lap A-Feature. Schatz raced around the high groove, while Sides was perfecting the bottom line. The two would race side-by-side for numerous laps during the early going. A pair of cautions slowed the action and on lap 18, Kyle Larson took the lead when Schatz tried the low line in turns one and two. For the next 10 laps, Schatz continued his pursuit for victory and caught Larson in traffic with only a couple of laps remaining. Schatz took the lead on lap 28 and went on to pick up a track-best seventh career victory at the track. The win allowed him to move from ninth to fourth in the WoO standings and he now trails Daryn Pittman by 32 points.
Schatz and his STP team will return to The Dirt Track tonight for another complete program on Thursday night before heading to Tucson International Raceway on Saturday night.