The World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series continued its California Spring Break tour Saturday night in Central California with another thrilling fight to the finish. Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz made a valiant run at win number three in 2014 in the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J, taking the lead twice after starting eighth. But the five-time WoO champion was narrowly defeated by Kerry Madsen in the 30-lap FVP Western Spring Shootout.
Schatz opened the evening by qualifying 12th in the field of 35 cars. The Fargo, N.D., racer dominated the fourth heat en route to his third heat race victory of the season. He finished eighth in the six-lap dash and would start the A-Feature outside of row four. Schatz wasted little time moving forward, advancing to sixth on the opening lap and then using a restart on lap two to crack the top-five. Schatz powered into second and took the lead from Joey Saldana on lap seven. Once in front, Schatz set sail, racing to a lead of more than two seconds before a caution on lap 13 gathered the field back together. Saldana regained the lead on the restart and Schatz would spend the next 10 laps tracking the him. Schatz would retake the lead with only a couple of laps remaining and took the white flag mired in heavy lapped traffic. Madsen closed the gap on the final lap and the duo brought the standing-room-only crowd to its feet coming out of turn four side-by-side. Madsen squirted off the bottom and had just enough momentum to squeeze by Schatz and take the victory by the narrowest of margins.
“Naturally, I thought I won,” said Schatz, who leads the series with seven top-five finishes. “I guess you always think that. I did everything I could but Joey got us on the start. I didn’t expect anyone to come there on the bottom. I guess Kerry snuck by us on the bottom and got the win, good for him. I’d like to leave here with a win, but we finished third last year, second tonight. Maybe next time we’ll get a win.”
Through nine of the 92 scheduled races in the 2014 WoO STP Sprint Car Series campaign, Schatz ranks second in the championship standings with 1,272 points. He trails leader McMahan.
The STP team continues the five-week California swing with races Friday at Merced Speedway and Saturday at the Mini Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico.