Story Courtesy of Jeremy Elliott of the Harrisburg Patriot News
When the boos rain down on a Victory Lane celebration during a World of Outlaws visit to Williams Grove Speedway, it means one thing.
Donny Schatz scored another triumph for the traveling band.
It’s hard to imagine anyone being dissatisfied after this performance. Regardless of the car number or the driver, it was an epic late-race charge that will long be remembered in a time of Sprint Car parity.
And it was Schatz orchestrating this masterpiece.
The five-time World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series champion was an unlikely candidate. After starting 12th on the grid, he carved his way through the field and passed three cars in the last three laps to capture Friday’s 25-lap event.
These weren’t chumps. Schatz disposed of WoO point leader Daryn Pittman and central Pennsylvania legend Fred Rahmer. He saved his best for last, slipping by Grove WoO killer Greg Hodnett on the last corner.
“It’s not very often that I get really excited, but I’m damn excited,” Schatz said after his 17th Grove victory. “Greg runs really well here.
“These guys are so switched on fine tuning this racecar, and I’m having the time of my life driving it.”
This was one of the best World of Outlaws races in recent memory. There were three different leaders and passing throughout the top five.
Paul McMahan was the rabbit early. Hodnett charged from third to pass Rahmer for second and took the lead on lap 11 from McMahan. Pittman was also a player, bouncing between fourth and second throughout the distance.
But Schatz was the master of this parade. He charged into the top five on lap 13 and tracked down the leaders by lap 20.
“I don’t care if I’m starting 28th, I always think I have a chance to win,” Schatz said. “With this STP team at Tony Stewart racing, the only time I think I’m out of it is if I’m a lap down.”
That doesn’t happen often.
Schatz was pinned to the bottom of the speedway. He kept it straight off the corners to clear Pittman on lap 23 and Rahmer in turn 2 before the white flag was displayed.
Hodnett would be a tougher get. He was also glued to the bottom and wasn’t about to give Schatz a free pass.
Schatz made his own way. He stayed on the bottom through turns 3 and 4. Hodnett tried to clear the lapped car of Logan Schuchart but his car pushed up, allowing Schatz a duck-under move for the winning pass out of turn 4.
“There were four of us going for it,” said Schatz, who bagged $8,000. “Hodnett was going to go to the bottom, so I slapped the cushion and was going for a run on him.
“I did that to Paul McMahan earlier, and I did the same thing to Greg and was able to get the win.”
Said Hodnett, “I thought I needed to keep momentum, and I spent too much time in the corner and gave it away. It was a bad decision at the end of the race. You win some and lose some, I just hope this isn’t a trend.”