TULARE, Calif. — Donny Schatz found more late-race magic on Saturday night getting around Kasey Kahne Racing teammates Brad Sweet and Daryn Pittman with just a few laps left en route to his sixth victory of the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series season.
The triumph for Schatz was his first at the Thunderbowl Raceway since the 2007 season and came aboard the familiar Tony Stewart Racing/Arctic Cat No. 15 machine. The eight-time WoO champion was settled in the third spot as the laps wound down, until making a thrilling move around the outside of the speedway to thread his way by the leaders in heavy lapped traffic.
“It feels really good to finally say we won in Tulare again,” Schatz said. “I didn’t think the track would take rubber so it kind of caught me by surprise. I really tried to save my tires and when we got to traffic late in the race the pace slowed down a lot. I decided I might as well try something and luckily it worked. I get all the credit, but it’s really all about my team. We have an incredible group of people that work on this race car and that makes it so much fun. I can’t thank all our sponsors enough for supporting us and giving us the opportunity to win races.”
The 35-lap feature started out with a three-wide battle for the lead that saw Pittman get the better of it to motor out into the lead over Sweet and polesitter Shane Stewart.
Early on in the feature the racing was fantastic throughout the field, as the slick surface made for some tremendous action. Caution periods kept the leaders out of traffic however, as Pittman held command out front. Once the midway point of the feature approached rubber began to come down on the surface and made passing opportunities limited. Sweet had kept Pittman in his sights though and hounded the rear bumper of the Great Clips No. 9 for much of the distance.
When the five to go signal was given the top-three bunched up as Schatz looked to make his move. With 32 laps in the record books the point leader blasted to the high side to drive around Sweet for the second spot. He then stayed up high and charged around Pittman for the lead coming down to complete lap 33. Schatz pulled away to take the checkered flag by 1.951 seconds over Pittman.
“This is basically a new team this year with our crew chief change so hopefully it will be a momentum boost for us,” Pittman said. “I did everything I could tonight, but our engine just wouldn’t run right in the feature. I definitely didn’t want to see the rubber because our car wouldn’t pull forward in it. Tulare is a tough track for me so I’m happy to be on the podium. It’s a long season and the wins will come. I’m definitely happy with the effort that our whole has put forth.”
Sweet crossed the stripe in third to earn another podium finish in the Kasey Kahne Racing/ Napa Auto Parts No. 49 Sprinter.
“I was nervous that it would take rubber and Donny pretty much showed why he is the best tonight,” Sweet said. “He was able to make his line work the best and kind of schooled us, so we’ll keep plugging away to try and get better. We have some good tracks for us coming up so that has me excited. We’ll move on to Stockton and hopefully get a win next week.”
Sheldon Haudenschild capped a strong weekend by finishing in the fourth spot, while Rico Abreu rounded out the top five.
For full results, turn to the next page.