Schatz Gets Back On Track At Calistoga

Donny Schatz (Frank Smith photo)

CALISTOGA, Calif. — Donny Schatz passed Brad Sweet on lap 25 to pick up his 18th win of the season Saturday night at Calistoga Speedway.

Sweet, who swept Friday’s event, held off a charge from Shane Stewart, who succumbed to a flat tire, before giving way to Schatz in lapped traffic. Daryn Pittman surged late to finish second, with Sweet third.

It has been far from easy the last two weeks for the eight-time and defending champion. Schatz was forced to use a provisional both nights at Silver Dollar Speedway last weekend and had to switch to a backup car last night. It was evident Schatz wanted to wrap up the West Coast swing on a good note.

Schatz assumed second on lap 10 after Shane Stewart was forced pit-side with a flat tire and lurked behind Sweet’s Ollie’s Bargain Outlet No.49 as he maneuvered through lapped traffic around the half-mile. Sweet hiccupped in traffic on lap 22, allowing the rest of the field to close in.

As Schatz began to make the bottom work, Jason Johnson pulled outside of Schatz looking to make a move of his own.

“I knew someone was outside of me. I had to go,” Schatz said. Go he did, as Schatz darted to the bottom and slid up on Sweet to take command on lap 25. Sweet tried to return the favor but incidentally let Johnson get by for second.

An open red flag on lap 27 set up a three-lap dash to the finish. Schatz was strong on the restart as Pittman, who restarted fourth, slid underneath Johnson and Sweet to take second. The maneuvering behind him allowed Schatz to go unchallenged the final three laps and score his 18th victory of the season.

When asked about his troubles last night, Schatz said, “It was just one of those nights. You don’t know if it’s a nightmare or a freak show. That’s racing, you have to battle through adversity. These guys never stopped working and here we are.”

Pittman, who was working out the bugs of a new car, was happy with the progress his Great Clips No.9 made throughout the evening, “We didn’t start off where we needed to be. But these guys worked really hard and made some great changes for the feature. We’ll take this and build on it heading back East.”

Sweet, who set fast time and won his heat for the second night in a row, said, “I was trying to get runs on the lapped cars and I opened up the door for Donny. Still, it was a great weekend overall.”

Johnson settled for fourth with David Gravel completing the top five.

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