ALGER, Wash. — Donny Schatz charged to his 18th World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory of the season on Saturday night by passing Kerry Madsen midway through the Monster Meltdown and driving away to the checkered flag at Skagit Speedway.
Madsen earned his fourth consecutive podium finish after leading the first 17 laps but couldn’t cool off Schatz, who was cruising to victory in the 35-lap feature until a caution on the last lap forced him to hold off Madsen and the rest of the field on a green-white-checkered finish.
Paul McMahan duplicated his third-place performance from Friday night while Cody Darrah finished fourth after starting eighth. Joey Saldana finished fifth and returned to fifth in standings.
While polesitter Madsen jumped to an early lead, Saldana was locked in a battle with McMahan for second. McMahan eventually captured the spot as Schatz quickly pulled close to Saldana. The pair battled fiercely for 10 laps before Schatz could finally complete the pass.
Schatz made quick work of both McMahan and Madsen over the following two laps. McMahan and Madsen remained close while Schatz drove away from them and the rest of the field.
A night after he finished outside of the top three for the first time since mid-July, Schatz returned to form and then some in the STP/Armor All J&J, earning quick time in qualifying and his first victory at Skagit to get right back into the championship chase.
“I finally got a win at Skagit,” said Schatz, who now has 142 wins in his career, 11 short of Mark Kinser for third all-time. “It’s one place that has eluded me a long time, but no longer. It was a fun night and I’m awful glad to get the win. You need lapped traffic anytime you’re racing and those guys weren’t getting through it very well. I could run through the middle and on the top, the car was just phenomenal and it got better as the race went on.”
Madsen continued a four-race stretch in the Keneric Racing KPC where he has found the podium each night.
“The truth is we’ve had some great draws,” said Madsen. “We had a really great race car, but when we got to lapped traffic we just couldn’t make any headway. Donny got by me and zipped through the traffic and just left us in the Skagit dust.”
McMahan put together a second consecutive podium finish in the CJB Motorsports car at the Monster Meltdown.
“The car has been good all weekend long,” said McMahan. “We had a really good car at the beginning of the race and were able to jump into second. Then Donny showed us the bottom and got clear of us and he actually ripped through lapped traffic fairly well.”
Sammy Swindell’s luck reversed after winning Friday night as he started Saturday off with a 22nd-place qualifying effort that forced him to battle all night long for positions, eventually earning him the KSE Hard Charger Award for his 15th-place finish.
Schatz’s victory combined with point leader Daryn Pittman’s seventh-place run helped Schatz cut his deficit to 23 points as the series prepares to race seven consecutive nights beginning Monday at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, Wash.