ANTIOCH, Calif. — In perhaps the pass of the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series season, Tim Kaeding slid championship points leader Donny Schatz in turn four on the final lap to earn his fourth Outlaws win of the season Monday at Antioch Speedway.
The packed grandstands erupted for the San Jose native, who reciprocated the affection.
He egged them on by popping a wheelie down the frontstretch after taking the checkered flag. And if his last-lap pass and wheelie weren’t enough, Kaeding was as entertaining in his post-race interview.
“Truthfully, it was a slide for life,” Kaeding said. “I was either going to wear me out, him out or both of us at the same time. It was no holds barred, short-track racing. This is what I love about it. It’s always fun and exciting, especially for the fans.”
While Kaeding crossed the finish line first, fellow Californian Jonathan Allard had the car to beat. After a red flag on the opening lap for a four-car pileup in turn one, Allard powered to the lead on the start with Schatz, who started on the pole, a close second.
The duo entered traffic on lap five and while Allard never pulled away, he maintained a couple of car lengths on Schatz until a caution with 10 laps remaining for Kenny Allen stopping on the frontstretch. Things continued to heat up on the restart as Rico Abreu hit the wall in turn four, tipped on his side and somehow managed to keep going as the red flag waved.
Once the race resumed, Allard again entered traffic on lap 27 and held a sizeable advantage as he was coming to the white flag when Craig Dollansky spun out in turn two. That forced a green-white-checkered finish, which turned out to be wild.
Allard, who chose the outside on the double-file restart, spun his tires and Schatz rocketed to the lead. Kaeding was in tow and slid by Allard entering turn one.
“I thought we had it,” Allard said. “I knew the restart would be tough because the track was starting to go away. I tried to pick the right lane.
“I started to actually roll the throttle on and it got a bit tight. (I) tried to drive back around them and it spun the tire and (Schatz) took off.”
Kaeding dove to the inside in turn three, but was unable to make a move on Schatz as they took the white flag. Kaeding followed Schatz around the high side exiting turn two and as Schatz ran the cushion in turn three, Kaeding dove to the bottom and executed a perfect slide job as they raced through turn four.
Kaeding slammed against the cushion and he drove across the track to edge Schatz by a little more than two tenths of a second.
“We KOed the curb and I drove straight down the race track so nobody could get back by me,” Kaeding said.
Schatz, who recorded his seventh straight top-five finish, said he was surprised by the slide job.
“I just over drove the car,” he said. “TK got a big run and slid me going into (turn) three and surprised me. I just made a couple of mistakes there at the end. Just me overdriving the car.”
Allard finished third and to make matters worse, he flipped in turn four on the cool-down lap.
“They said green-white-checkered on the thing, but I didn’t really know what the lap count was,” he said. “I saw Tim run it down the straightaway and I thought, ‘Well, maybe there’s something going on.’ I ran it down in there and just lost control. So just a bad move on my part.”
Cody Darrah placed fourth and Lucas Wolfe ended fifth.