LEBANON, Ore. — Tim Kaeding held off Donny Schatz on a green-white-checkered finish Tuesday night at Willamette Speedway to earn his eighth World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory of the season.
Kaeding drove around Rico Abreu on lap 11 of the 30-lap A-main to swipe the lead, then held him off on a wild restart that saw Abreu exit two laps later with a damaged machine after contact with another car. On the ensuing restart, Schatz got around second-place running Sammy Swindell and set his sights on Kaeding in search of a third consecutive win.
With two grooves working, Kaeding raced the topside as Schatz closed the gap on the bottom. The two hit lapped traffic with 10 to go and each carefully worked through it until a red flag for Trey Starks set up a green-white-checkered shootout with Kaeding in front and Schatz, Swindell and pole-sitter Paul McMahan ready to pounce.
Kaeding pulled away just enough in his Roth Enterprises car to keep Schatz and Swindell at bay over the final two laps before chaos erupted behind them when McMahan was spun coming to the checkered flag.
“It’s been one of those years where I still wake up and pinch myself,” said Kaeding, , who has 23 top-five performances to go with his eight wins. “It’s difficult to run top five or even top 10, but to be able to run out in front of them has been an awesome. We made some changes early in the summertime and it is really starting to pay off. Dennis and Theresa Roth have been putting us in great equipment. Just to put Donny Schatz back once spot is awesome.”
Schatz, who was attempting to win his third consecutive race in the STP/Armor All J&J, found himself on the podium once again and finished four spots ahead of championship leader Daryn Pittman, who set quick time earlier in the program to earn five championship points.
“We threw everything at it we had, it just wasn’t enough tonight,” said Schatz. “We made the bottom and the middle work as long as we could there, but Tim did a good job. I needed him to make a mistake and he just did not. Our team knows how to win races and be consistent. It’s an awful lot of fun to know you can win any night and run through the field. We’ve won with three different cars over the last couple weeks and that is pretty motivating that there isn’t a car in this trailer that hasn’t won a race.”
Swindell ran up front most of the race in his Big Game Treestands Maxim and capped it off with a podium finish to hold off fourth-place finishing Brad Sweet.
“We had a good car here and I think we had a chance to win here last year before we got into a crash,” said Swindell. “One restart we got caught in the wrong lane and Donny got around us. We were close and it was just going to depend on traffic and who got the breaks. We’re getting closer to where we need to be.”
McMahan, who led the first five laps, had a strong run going until turn three on the final circuit. On the green-white-checkered single-file restart, contact in turn three led to McMahan spinning and bringing out a caution after the top three drivers had already taken the checkered flag, negating a hard charge by Kyle Larson on the top of three and four around the accident scene.
Bad luck ended track record holder Joey Saldana’s night after he had a strong run going in the opening laps of the feature only to fall out because of a brake line failure.
Pittman gave up three finish spots to Schatz at Willamette, but was able to minimize the championship significance by earning five points in qualifying with a quick time award while Schatz qualified ninth. Pittman enters Wednesday night’s event at Cottage Grove Speedway with a 19-point advantage in the standings.