Donny Schatz knows how to win in a World of Outlaws winged sprint car at the Dirt Track at Charlotte, it’s just been a while since he’s done so.
But Schatz showed Friday night that he hasn’t forgotten how, taking the 30-lap feature and its $12,000 winner’s check at the Circle K/NOS Energy Drink Outlaw Showdown.
Schatz, of Fargo, N.D., led the final 18 laps in the main event, but had to hold off a determined challenge from David Gravel, finishing 0.526 seconds ahead to post his 11th feature win of the season.
It was Schatz’s eighth career victory at the Dirt Track at Charlotte – the most all-time – but his first since November 2013. It was also his third win in the World of Outlaws’ May race there, and first since 2010.
Yet the defending and six-time World of Outlaws series champ had to work for Friday’s win, the 184th of his career.
Kraig Kinser jumped out to a big lead at the start, pulling ahead by nearly two seconds in the first 10 laps. But two cautions bunched the field, and gave Schatz his shot.
Kinser was able to pull ahead after the first restart, but his car appeared to stumble on the second, allowing Schatz to get a run on the outside and bolt into the lead on the 13th lap.
Schatz went on to lead by as many as three seconds, but slower cars and Gravel’s fast-closing sprinter – which moved past Kinser for second on Lap 20 – turned a runaway into a race.
Daryn Pittman finished third, followed by Shane Stewart and Paul McMahan.
“I couldn’t hear him (Gravel), but I figured somebody had to be there. We got to traffic, and there were guys running around the bottom and ripping around the top, and I just couldn’t seem to make anything happen to get through. If you’re leading the race and backing up, you’ve got to know somebody’s coming. But my car was pretty decent. Sometimes you win them that way, sometimes you lose them that way.” – Schatz.
▪ “We had a couple shots at him, but it just didn’t work out. I needed maybe five more laps, and I could’ve maybe got him. But Donny’s a smart racer, the best there is in the business, and he just doesn’t give wins away. I needed him to slip up a little bit, but he didn’t.” – Gravel.
Heat-race winners for the sprint cars were Jason Sides, Logan Schuchart and Schatz. … Schatz also won the six-lap Dash race to take the pole for the 30-lap feature, beating Kinser.
The World of Outlaws sprint cars head to Attica, Ohio, for an race at Attica Raceway Park on May 29, followed by a feature at I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Mich., on May 30.