BARBERVILLE, Fla. – There were two beaming faces on the Volusia Raceway Park frontstretch following Friday night’s 30-lap World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series feature.
Both winner Donny Schatz and runner-up Logan Schuchart were stoked by the crowd pleasing battle they’d just staged, though Schatz got the edge to win the first Outlaw feature of the new year.
Schuchart got the drop on polesitter Schatz on the initial break, then lost the lead and had to wrestle it back from the perennial championship contender.
With the white flag close at hand, Schuchart seemed headed for victory, but as happens so often in sprint car racing, second was the place to be.
“He set me up just right,” said a grinning Schuchart. “If I had to pick somebody I didn’t want behind me at the end of the race, I’d choose him. But this was our best finish here ever and a great race with one of the best racers of all time, so we’re happy.
“They reworked the track before the feature and it was so slick in spots that I almost spun out,” Schuchart noted. “I saved it, but even when I was leading all those laps, I knew nothing is ever wrapped up with Donny behind me.”
After the Pennsylvanian led the opening lap in his grandfather Bobby Allen’s Drydene No. 1a, Schatz drove right around him in turn two the next time around and the huge crowd packed into the speedway’s new high-rise grandstand figured the Advance Auto Parts No. 15 was headed right to victory lane.
Schuchart thought differently, though. When Schatz hit traffic on lap five, he began closing. Two laps later, he drove under the leader as they exited turn four of the Florida half-mile.
Behind the lead duo, Sweet had moved from sixth to third and before the lap counter hit 10 he was all over Schatz for second. He got even a few times but lost his momentum when a harmless spin by Chad Kemenah on lap 13 brought out the first yellow.
With a return to green, Schuchart again drove away from the field and was back lapping the tailenders by lap 18, with Schatz, Sweet, Parker Price-Miller and Kerry Madsen running behind him.
As Schatz always does, he turned up the wick when the lap counter hit 20. He first caught Schuchart, then started diving inside him as they hit the turns.
Nothing worked until lap 27, when Schuchart filled the lower groove as they hit turn four and Schatz sailed around him coming to the stripe and drove away.
“He was good in the middle and I slid him once and didn’t make it,” explained Schatz. “I guess I lost my bearings there for a while, but I got going, got up behind him and started trying different parts of the track. That’s what you’re supposed to do.
“I finally found the right spot, and it worked out for us.”
Sweet, who had a win and a second during the All Stars segment of the DIRTcar Nationals in Kasey Kahne’s NAPA No. 49, had to settle for third.
“We were trying hard, but they were too,” said Sweet. “We just needed to be a little better. The track has been good two of the three nights so far, and it was really fast tonight.”
Price-Miller was fourth after trading the spot back and forth with fast-timer David Gravel, up from seventh. Gravel crossed fifth ahead of Madsen, Carson Macedo, Daryn Pittman, Tim Shaffer in Tony Stewart’s No. 14 and Thursday night winner Aaron Reutzel.
Lucas Wolfe claimed the star-studded B-main.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.