Schatz Banks $20,000 Down Under

Donny Schatz
Donny Schatz
Donny Schatz

BRISBANE, Australia — Donny Schatz is on a hot streak.

Five-time World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz brought his A-Game to Supercheap Autos Archerfield Speedway Saturday as he stormed to victory in the 2014 Australian Open that doubles as Round Seven of the ENZED World Series Sprintcars Championship.

Schatz steered his Crimsafe J&J to victory in the marathon 50-lap, $20,000 to win main event, but not before having his hands full with a spirited David Murcott who led 19 laps in his East Coast Logistics No. 83 Maxim.

Schatz got by the Victorian, but four laps later Murcott had reassumed the point position until the American slotted back by into fresh air on lap 27.

Murcott’s stellar run (in which he ran in the top three) came to an abrupt end on lap 42 when he caught the very pronounced cushion and flipped the No. 83 up on to the turn four concrete wall.

Until that moment it had been one of his best drives in many seasons in what had been a fitting reward for pole position and $500 cash thanks to his win in the Amadio Wines Top 8 Shootout before the main event.

“It was a lot of fun racing with Dave for the first half of the race,” Schatz said. “It’s rare that you can run so close to someone without them getting into you or changing lines constantly. I felt very comfortable running with him like that.”

Despite dense and often two-wide lapped traffic in front of him Schatz showed his class for a large and appreciative crowd on hand – a crowd that included long time West Aussie car owner Luch Monte who had flown over for the weekend.

Steven Lines moved his Halls Haulage No. 3 KPC into second after getting by Murcott on lap 27 and several times the hard charging South Australian appeared to be making ground on the five-time World of Outlaws champion.

Though he was unable to get close enough to have a real crack at the leader Lines paid tribute to his American rival.

“He just doesn’t make any mistakes,” Lines said. “I had a look a couple of times but we never really got close enough to make a real play for the lead. In instances like that you have to keep reminding yourself to pay attention to what he’s doing and learning from one of the best. This is a good result for us, I’m pleased for the team and I’m relieved that we have our motor program back in shape.”

The big movers in the field were James McFadden (Totally Workwear Cool) and American Brad Sweet in his Highrace Towing No. 99 TI22.

The Californian charged to an eventual third place and was really gaining on Lines and Schatz as the checkers flew.

“My motor was starting to get hot towards the end but if it hadn’t I sure would have liked another twenty laps,” he mused, “the car was beautiful and I really enjoyed my first look at Archerfield. It’s a racy place.”

McFadden came from tenth to fourth and as a consequence of playing his “Joker” card was able to double his points haul and move into the series lead, despite the fact that Steven Lines had placed second and finished two spots ahead of the defending champion in the A-Main.