SARVER, Pa. – With four laps to go Tuesday night, any hope that Donny Schatz had of winning the 29th Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway appeared to have all but evaporated.
However, with a thrilling run at defending World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion Brad Sweet, Schatz rebounded with a last-lap pass to steal the victory and the $25,000 winner’s share.
Schatz came out the victor in one of the most hard-fought features in the 43-year history of the Outlaws, with five official lead changes and countless others that went uncounted between the last two champions of the United States’ premier sprint car touring series.
It was remarkable considering he was third with a lap and a half left, as Sweet was attempting to drive away out front aboard the NAPA Auto Parts No. 49 for Kasey Kahne Racing with Mike Curb.
But Schatz found speed on the outside of turns three and four, reclaiming second from Kyle Larson coming to the white flag and then pitching the Carquest/Ford Performance No. 15 to the inside of turn one with a massive slide job to snag the point position away from Sweet.
After that, it was all about a perfect run through turns three and four back to the finish line, with Schatz getting there first by .310 seconds for his third World of Outlaws sprint car win of the season.
The $25,000 score was Schatz’s record-extending seventh overall Silver Cup win, as well as the 297th of his World of Outlaws career.
Schatz is now just three wins away from becoming the third driver to earn 300 Outlaw victories.
“I’ll tell you what, it’s fun to race like that,” Schatz said in victory lane. “We came out on the right end of that one, but man, those (two) guys are good. That’s what the fans paid to see. My crew did a great job. I think what actually won us that race was figuring out how to run the race track early in the race. I got hanging (on) there at the end and had to move around; we got to traffic and I just wasn’t that good on the bottom. The 49 (Sweet) could get down there, and so could the 57 (Larson).
“That’s ultimately what won us that race, though, because those guys were choking around the bottom trying to stay there and we were able to carry speed through (turns) three and four.”
With his victory, Schatz took over the World of Outlaws point lead by four markers over Sweet.
The marathon Silver Cup feature, which took just over 36 minutes of on-track time to complete, featured five cautions in the first 23 laps before the final 17 circuits went uninterrupted.
Those slowdowns included a lap-11 red-flag period, called for refueling after an initial yellow for the spun car of Daryn Pittman in turn one. Pittman had come from 22nd to 10th prior to his incident.
Kyle Larson passed Sweet, his brother-in-law, coming out of the final corner to secure runner-up honors, relegating Sweet to the bottom step of the podium after the reigning champion led 17 of 40 laps.
After three straight DNFs, however, it was a much-needed rebound for Sweet – even if he did lose the point lead to Schatz.
“I think I just needed to do a little better job protecting there,” Sweet noted. “I think my car wasn’t getting off (turn) two well, and I kind of knew it, and I also wasn’t getting into (turn) one fast enough. I was just in a vulnerable spot there, but it wasn’t the car; I just need to do a better job as a driver.
“When you have two of the best in the world behind you, you know if you make a mistake, they’ll be there to capitalize,” he added. “I probably should have protected; who knows if I still would have held them off, because I felt like I was hanging on a little bit the last few laps … but hats off to those guys.”
Sheldon Haudenschild and David Gravel finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
After two visits to the work area early in the feature, Tennessee’s Jason Sides came from 21st to finish seventh and notched KSE Hard Charger honors for the night as a result of his gritty efforts.
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series PA Swing continues Thursday night at Lincoln Speedway with the running of the Gettysburg Clash. Lance Dewease is the defending event winner.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.