CONCORD, N.C. – Logan Schuchart survived an overtime-extended, rubber-down war of attrition to win the finale to the United Rentals Patriot Nationals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte on Saturday night.
Schuchart, who started 14th for the 30-lap main event, methodically moved his way forward and then found himself in position to pounce when many drivers began blowing right-rear tires in the final laps.
He took over the top spot with three to go in regulation, when Brad Sweet pulled to the infield from the race lead with a flat right-rear tire, then held on through a green-white-checkered finish for the victory.
The Hanover, Pa., native’s triumph was his third World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series win of the season, tying David Gravel for the most of any driver on tour through 20 completed features.
“Man, does this one feel good!” Schuchart said in victory lane. “A lot of times, a driver has a pretty good idea of how much tire you have left, but those last couple laps … (the right-rear) stuck and it still felt like I had grip. It was funny because that (tire) started off used. I’m pretty sure it was on the rack from last year because we didn’t want to waste a new tire starting 14th, but it didn’t matter tonight.
“It’s been a great season so far,” Schuchart added. “I didn’t know who was behind me (on the last lap), but I knew some guys who had problems probably had a new tire. That last lap, I came off turn two and I heard another engine … so I knew I had to make it as wide as I possibly could.”
Outside polesitter Kraig Kinser took the lead off the initial start and paced the first 16 laps, but 10-time World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz snuck pas Kinser in traffic with 14 to go and appeared to be on his way to victory.
Track conditions and circumstances ultimately dictated otherwise, however.
The drama began with six to go, when Dominic Scelzi exploded a right-rear tire and stopped off turn two to bring out a late caution flag. That was the first of multiple tire-related yellows which ultimately changed the game – as well as the final outcome.
A three-car melee involving Ian Madsen, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Cale Thomas brought the yellow back out with five laps left, and that was followed by a third yellow for Sheldon Haudenschild losing a right-rear tire at the three to go mark.
Once lap 27 went up on the scoreboard, it didn’t pay to lead, as first Schatz and then later Brad Sweet both slowed from the race lead with flat right-rear tires, ending their respective chances at victory.
Once Sweet pulled off, the race was in Schuchart’s hands, and he rocketed away on the ensuing restart before a caution waved after the white flag for a triple tire failure biting Shane Stewart, Ian Madsen and Carson Macedo.
That set up a green-white-checkered finish, pushing the feature one lap beyond its scheduled distance, but Schuchart was not to be denied despite a hard-charging James McFadden on the final lap.
As Schuchart alluded to, though he took the victory, his right-rear tire was all but bald after the race.
“I don’t think I would have survived another lap, and even if I could have gone another lap with the tire like it was, James definitely would have passed me,” Schuchart admitted. “It worked out, though. A lot of it’s luck, and maybe a little bit about saving the tire at the right times and passing cars when you can.
“We won the race, though, and that’s all that matters. It feels great.”
McFadden restarted third at the final green flag, but hauled around Kerry Madsen and nearly got alongside Schuchart coming to the twin checkers before settling for second.
“Everyone started looking after their tires after the first couple of (cautions). I figured we had nothing to lose,” said McFadden, who started 18th. “I’m not here to points chase. I just wanted to win, but I kind of used my left rear up a little bit too much. I thought I waited a little bit on Logan in (turns) one and two and had a good enough run going into turn three. He just did a really good job.
“I’m pumped with second. In my second night with Kasey Kahne Racing … this is awesome.”
Kerry Madsen completed the podium, putting two Australians in the top three finishing positions, with 1995 World of Outlaws champion Dave Blaney crossing the line fourth and Friday winner Gio Scelzi rallying back from a flat tire under caution with five to go to complete the top five.
Jacob Allen was sixth ahead of Daryn Pittman, Jason Sides, Kinser and Haudenschild. Schatz was 11th.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.