LAS VEGAS – While Donny Schatz was busy shaking off his three-race winless drought to open the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series season Thursday night, the unsung hero of the race might have been Logan Schuchart.
The Hanover, Pa., driver capped a solid night for Shark Racing with their first podium of the year, driving from 10th to third at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Schuchart got to the top three by lap 13, just before Daryn Pittman got to Schatz’s bumper to battle for the race lead, and stalked the two series champions for the remainder of the distance.
While he felt like he had the car to go to war with Pittman and Schatz, Schuchart admitted that neither one of them made a mistake and opened the door for him to pounce.
“I thought I might have a shot right there at the end with both of them,” Schuchart said. “These guys are World of Outlaws champions, though. They’re always tough to beat and they’re not going to make many mistakes. If they ever do, we need to be ready to pounce.”
Still, Thursday night’s result tied Schuchart’s career-best Outlaw finish at Las Vegas.
“I think the last time I finished third (here), we started on the pole,” Schuchart noted. “To come from 10th on a track like this … I was able to find the rubber a little bit earlier than some others did, and I think that helped us. I was starting to run out of fuel before the red (flag), though, so tensions were high and I was a little bit nervous.
“I’m happy we were able to hang on. Hopefully next time we’re up here, it’s because we’re winning it.”
– In an interesting coincidence, Schatz shook off his season-opening dry spell the exact same way he did when he was winless through the first three races of the 2013 campaign.
He came to The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and won the season’s fourth event.
Schatz chuckled at that similarity after Thursday night’s race and noted that the half-mile Sin City dirt track has been particularly kind to him through the years. He now has 13 feature wins at Las Vegas.
“Vegas has been very good to me, obviously, over the years,” noted Schatz. “I enjoy coming here. It’s a fun atmosphere and a fun event. I’m glad to see a lot of NASCAR fans here too. Hopefully it opened their eyes to new things and converted a few of them into sprint car fans.”
– Looking down the box score, the list of notables who missed Thursday night’s 30-lap feature was every bit as talent-laden as the 25 drivers who started the main event.
NASCAR Xfinity Series star Christopher Bell, former Ironman 55 winner and USAC national midget champion Rico Abreu, three-time Knoxville Nationals runner-up Brian Brown, World of Outlaws full-timer Brent Marks and another former USAC midget champion in Tanner Thorson all failed to qualify.
It’s a case of the Outlaws being not only “The Greatest Show on Dirt,” but also the toughest show on dirt to make and a place where anyone – no matter their name or resume – can be sent home disappointed.
– For the second-straight night, Cory Eliason was the night’s Hard Charger, advancing from 24th to finish 13th in the Rudeen Racing No. 26.
Eliason gained a total of 26 positions during main event action across his two days in Las Vegas.