Sunday, May 12, 2013

Donny Schatz claims victory at Knoxville Raceway with the Outlaws


Photo Credit: Rob Kocak Photos
Under the watchful eyes of history on the back stretch, the World of Outlaws took on the ½-mile Knoxville Raceway 51 cars strong. But this was not history’s house, it was Donny Schatz’s house. The reigning champion has won the last five Nationals events on this very track. He reasserted his dominance last night in front of a packed house and served notice that his place in the house of history was secure.

Although, Brooke Tatnell’s seven year old track record of 14.407 seconds would stand, the track at the Marion fairgrounds was fast, slick and technical. There is none better on a technical track than three-time series champion Sammy Swindell. He proved that by setting quick time last night with a time of 14.699 seconds.

The top 5 was rounded out by Paul McMahan, Brian Brown, Joey Saldana and Craig Dollansky. Qualifying would see the engines of Tasker Phillips and Dakota Hendrickson go up in rolling clouds of smoke. While competitors T.J. Peterson and Mark Johnson would not log a time at all after having mechanical issues in hot lap sessions.

With a 51 car field everything grows, including the format for the event. Five heat races, a C-Main, the LCS and the A-Main were all still to come. The larger the event the more difficult it is to transfer to the Main and with five heats on tap only four would advance to the Main from each. The first heat race was a highly competitive adventure that saw visiting Nationwide Series regular Brad Sweet take the checkered flag over Tim Kaeding, Sammy Swindell and Kraig Kinser. Just missing the final transfer spot by inches was the Outlaws point leader Daryn Pittman and Steve Kinser.

The second heat race would bring more of the same hard core all out racing with Chad Kemenah coming home ahead of Kerry Madsen, reigning Knoxville Raceway champion Terry McCarl and Paul McMahan.

The third heat would have a shortened field with the first of the evening scratches coming from Austin Johnson and Tasker Phillips. With the eight car field on the track two-time Knoxville track champion Brian Brown made short work of it beating Wayne Johnson, Jason Sides and Davey Heskin to the checkers.

The fourth heat would see yet another evening scratch from Dakota Henderickson. The race was a show down between youth and experience with Lucas Wolfe and Danny Lasoski, the all time winningest driver in the history of Knoxville Raceway on the front row. The second row showed more of the same with Cody Darrah and Joey Saldana. The race was an intense display of slide jobs and daring passes on the cushion. Youth would prevail as Lucas Wolfe and Cody Darrah would come across just in front of Danny Lasoski and Joey Saldana.

The final heat race of the evening would whisper of things to come. Reigning Outlaws champion and five-time Winged Sprint Nationals champion Donny Schatz would start on the outside of the front row. He wouldn’t be there long as he jumped out to an early lead at the green flag and never looked back. Schatz would take the checkers over a closing Craig Dollansky, Rager Phillips and Sam Hafertepe Jr. Lynton Jeffery and A.J. Moeller would scratch before staging.

The 12 car dash was a hot six laps which hinted that maybe the strongest car on the track tonight was not that of Schatz but instead former track champion Brian Brown. Brown took an early lead and never looked back at times he had as much as a straightaway lead on second place Tim Kaeding. Again young Cody Darrah would be within striking distance in third with Garret Dollansky and Paul McMahan rounding out the top five. Schatz would come home in the seventh spot right behind the wiley veteran Sammy Swindell.

With five cars scratching on the evening before the heats were run, there was now no need for the C Main. All 24 remaining cars would run the Last Showdown. The Last Chance Showdown would have a power field including point leader Daryn Pittman, Ian Madsen, David Gravel, Jason Johnson, Steve Kinser and Kyle Larson.

Rob Kubli would take a nasty ride when his car would flip in a three wide situation getting into the wall and reaching a height higher than the retaining wall in Turns 1 and 2. Kubli would crawl from his car uninjured saying, “This is how we roll. We have to tear one up real good before we can get going every year. I guess we got that out of the way now.”

Also taking a wild ride was Geoff Dodge, former Knoxville Nationals Rookie of the Year. Dodge would clip the wall out of Turn 4 and flip the car down into the turn. Dodge’s car was pushed to the work area but had sustained too much damage to continue.

Once the Showdown settled down, it was hard racing that showcased the talents of some of the up and coming drivers in the sport. Jason Johnson charged from sixth to second on the final restart and would maintain that spot over Kyle Larson and Dusty Zomer. Zomer and Bronson Maeschun staged a raging back and forth battle for the final transfer spot with Steve Kinser right on their bumpers. The victory would go to Daryn Pittman who lead from green flag to checkers.

With the field set, three provisionals were awarded, two Outlaws and one track points provisional. Getting into the field on Outlaws provisionals were Steve Kinser and David Gravel. The Knoxville Raceway provisional went to former track champion Ian Madsen.

Brian Brown earned his second pole of the season and jumped out to a quick lead before Dollansky was able to slide into the top spot on Lap 9. Meanwhile, Donny Schatz was reeling in Tim Kaeding and then Brown before setting his sights squarely on Craig “The Crowd Pleaser” Dollansky.

Lucas Wolfe's Buffalo Wild Wings Car
Photo Credit: Dirt Vision

Sammy Swindell's Big Game Tree Stands Car
Photo Credit: Dirt Vision
On Lap 18, Schatz stalked Dollansky through lapped traffic before finally making his move on the exit of Turn 2 as they headed down the backstretch. A red flag for Rager Phillips in Turn 4 forced a restart. A multi-car crash, that involved Lucas Wolfe and Sammy Swindell, on the front stretch led to an open red flag situation and helped Schatz secure his track advantage. Schatz would pull away in the final laps to a straight away lead leaving Dollansky and Brown to battle for second. Dollansky would come home second and Brian Brown would complete the podium.

"This place is just unique, and we've come here so many times in the past and were so terrible and then one day figured it out," said Schatz. "These guys on this STP team do a phenomenal job and when it works it seems like it works at a lot of places."

"(It was) just a hard fought battle with the Eyecon Trail Cameras car and we came up one spot short," said Dollansky. "We came home second tonight, but we'll keep working hard at things and keep plugging away."

"We just got a little free as the race went on and could never do anything with him," said Brown, "Schatz is always good here and a good top three is nothing to hang your head about, but we definitely want to win."

Kyle Larson earned the 24th position in the A-main after advancing 13 positions in the Last Chance Showdown. In the A-Main, he continued to work his way forward eventually finishing in the eighth position to earn the KSE Hard Charger Award.

Although you can’t call it the house that Schatz built because it was built long before he or his father were born, victory lane at Knoxville Raceway has definitely become a second home for Donny Schatz. It’s a home he hopes to hold on to for a long time.

With history watching, the Outlaws put on an incredible show. The old guard stood tall and took the young ones to school. The young ones showed their skills and determination. In the end, the Sprint Car Hall of Fame smiled knowing that her history would be continued by young men with nerves of steel and the courage of the most determined of heroes.

Qualifying: 1. 1-Sammy Swindell, 14.699; 2. 51-Paul McMahan, 14.839; 3. 21-Brian Brown, 14.885; 4. 71M-Joey Saldana, 14.887; 5. 7-Craig Dollansky, 14.890; 6. 9-Daryn Pittman, 14.896; 7. 24-Terry McCarl, 14.968; 8. 96-Bronson Maeschen, 14.978; 9. 4-Cody Darrah, 15.001; 10. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr, 15.017; 11. 83-Tim Kaeding, 15.037; 12. 63-Chad Kemenah, 15.044; 13. 56-David Heskin, 15.097; 14. 1M-Danny Lasoski, 15.123; 15. 15-Donny Schatz, 15.155; 16. 49-Brad Sweet, 15.167; 17. 29-Kerry Madsen, 15.208; 18. 77X-Wayne Johnson, 15.212; 19. 82-Lucas Wolfe, 15.227; 20. 10-Rager Phillips, 15.323; 21. 18-Ian Madsen, 15.339; 22. 47-Don Droud Jr., 15.358; 23. 7S-Jason Sides, 15.409; 24. 6-David Gravel, 15.414; 25. 7M-Geoff Dodge, 15.428; 26. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 15.429; 27. 41-Jason Johnson, 15.467; 28. 17A-Austin McCarl, 15.469; 29. 49J-Josh Schneiderman, 15.480; 30. 12-Lynton Jeffrey, 15.481; 31. 6R-Ryan Bunton, 15.484; 32. 7K-Dustin Selvage, 15.495; 33. 2-Garrett Dollansky, 15.509; 34. 91-Dusty Zomer, 15.542; 35. 1D-David Hesmer, 15.559; 36. 23K-Rob Kubli, 15.560; 37. 10V-Glen Saville, 15.567; 38. 81-Austin Johnson, 15.571; 39. 1K-Kyle Larson, 15.575; 40. 17B-Bill Balog, 15.621; 41. 11-Steve Kinser, 15.621; 42. 88-Jarrod Schniederman, 15.636; 43. 55-Brooke Tatnell, 15.668; 44. 13-Mark Dobmeier, 15.699; 45. 20-A.J. Moeller, 15.702; 46. 69-Mike Moore, 15.788; 47. 71X-Robert Bell, 16.067; 48. 7TAZ-Tasker Phillips, 16.696; 49. 4X-Dakota Hendrickson, 19.198; 50. 12P-T.J. Peterson, nt; 51. 45-Mark Johnson, nt

Heat 1 - (8 Laps - Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 49-Brad Sweet [1]; 2. 83-Tim Kaeding [2]; 3. 1-Sammy Swindell [4]; 4. 11K-Kraig Kinser [6]; 5. 9-Daryn Pittman [3]; 6. 11-Steve Kinser [9]; 7. 18-Ian Madsen [5]; 8. 6R-Ryan Bunton [7]; 9. 23K-Rob Kubli [8]; 10. 45-Mark Johnson [11]; 11. 69-Mike Moore [10].

Heat 2 - (8 Laps - Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 63-Chad Kemenah [2]; 2. 29-Kerry Madsen [1]; 3. 24-Terry McCarl [3]; 4. 51-Paul McMahan [4]; 5. 47-Don Droud Jr. [5]; 6. 41-Jason Johnson [6]; 7. 7K-Dustin Selvage [7]; 8. 10V-Glen Saville [8]; 9. 88-Jarrod Schniederman [9]; 10. 71X-Robert Bell [10].

Heat 3 - (8 Laps - Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 21-Brian Brown [4]; 2. 77X-Wayne Johnson [1]; 3. 7S-Jason Sides [5]; 4. 56-David Heskin [2]; 5. 96-Bronson Maeschen [3]; 6. 17A-Austin McCarl [6]; 7. 55-Brooke Tatnell [9]; 8. 2-Garrett Dollansky [7].

Heat 4 - (8 Laps - Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 82-Lucas Wolfe [1]; 2. 4-Cody Darrah [3]; 3. 1M-Danny Lasoski [2]; 4. 71M-Joey Saldana [4]; 5. 6-David Gravel [5]; 6. 91-Dusty Zomer [7]; 7. 49J-Josh Schneiderman [6]; 8. 1K-Kyle Larson [8]; 9. 13-Mark Dobmeier [9].

Heat 5 - (8 Laps - Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 15-Donny Schatz [2]; 2. 7-Craig Dollansky [4]; 3. 10-Rager Phillips [1]; 4. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr [3]; 5. 17B-Bill Balog [8]; 6. 7M-Geoff Dodge [5]; 7. 1D-David Hesmer [7]; 8. 12P-T.J. Peterson [10].

Dash - (6 Laps, finishing order determined first 12 starting positions of A-feature): 1. 21-Brian Brown [4]; 2. 83-Tim Kaeding [1]; 3. 4-Cody Darrah [2]; 4. 7-Craig Dollansky [3]; 5. 51-Paul McMahan [5]; 6. 1-Sammy Swindell [6]; 7. 15-Donny Schatz [8]; 8. 49-Brad Sweet [9]; 9. 82-Lucas Wolfe [12]; 10. 29-Kerry Madsen [10]; 11. 77X-Wayne Johnson [11]; 12. 63-Chad Kemenah [7].

B-Main - (12 Laps - Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 9-Daryn Pittman [1] [-]; 2. 41-Jason Johnson [6] [-]; 3. 1K-Kyle Larson [16] [-]; 4. 91-Dusty Zomer [12] [-]; 5. 96-Bronson Maeschen [2] [$200]; 6. 11-Steve Kinser [18] [$180]; 7. 49J-Josh Schneiderman [8] [$175]; 8. 13-Mark Dobmeier [21] [$160]; 9. 7K-Dustin Selvage [10] [$150]; 10. 55-Brooke Tatnell [20] [$150]; 11. 2-Garrett Dollansky [11] [$150]; 12. 10V-Glen Saville [15] [$150]; 13. 6R-Ryan Bunton [9] [$150]; 14. 45-Mark Johnson [23] [$150]; 15. 17B-Bill Balog [17] [$150]; 16. 17A-Austin McCarl [7] [$150]; 17. 1D-David Hesmer [13] [$150]; 18. 69-Mike Moore [22] [$150]; 19. 88-Jarrod Schniederman [19] [$150]; 20. 6-David Gravel [4] [$150]; 21. 7M-Geoff Dodge [5] [$150]; 22. 12P-T.J. Peterson [31] [$150]; 23. 18-Ian Madsen [3] [$150]; 24. 23K-Rob Kubli [14] [$150]; 25. 47-Don Droud Jr. [24] [$150]; 26. 12-Lynton Jeffrey [25] [$150]; 27. 81-Austin Johnson [26] [$150]; 28. 20-A.J. Moeller [27] [$150]; 29. 71X-Robert Bell [28] [$150]; 30. 7TAZ-Tasker Phillips [29] [$150]; 31. 4X-Dakota Hendrickson [30] [$150].

A-Main - (25 Laps): 1. 15-Donny Schatz [7] [$10,000]; 2. 7-Craig Dollansky [4] [$5,500]; 3. 21-Brian Brown [1] [$3,200]; 4. 29-Kerry Madsen [10] [$2,800]; 5. 51-Paul McMahan [5] [$2,500]; 6. 4-Cody Darrah [3] [$2,300]; 7. 9-Daryn Pittman [14] [$2,200]; 8. 1K-Kyle Larson [24] [$2,100]; 9. 91-Dusty Zomer [23] [$2,050]; 10. 71M-Joey Saldana [13] [$2,000]; 11. 6-David Gravel [25] [$700]; 12. 7S-Jason Sides [20] [$1,200]; 13. 11K-Kraig Kinser [21] [$1,100]; 14. 24-Terry McCarl [15] [$1,050]; 15. 63-Chad Kemenah [12] [$1,000]; 16. 49-Brad Sweet [8] [$900]; 17. 11-Steve Kinser [27] [$]; 18. 1-Sammy Swindell [6] [$800]; 19. 13-Mark Dobmeier [28] [$]; 20. 18-Ian Madsen [26] [$]; 21. 83-Tim Kaeding [2] [$800]; 22. 82-Lucas Wolfe [9] [$800]; 23. 56-David Heskin [17] [$800]; 24. 10-Rager Phillips [19] [$800]; 25. 41-Jason Johnson [22] [$800]; 26. 77X-Wayne Johnson [11] [$800]; 27. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr [16] [$800]; 28. 1M-Danny Lasoski [18] [$800]. Lap Leaders: Brian Brown 1-8, Craig Dollansky 9-17, Donny Schatz 18-25.

KSE Hard Charger Award: 1K-Kyle Larson [+16]

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