SARVER, Pa. — Patience was key on a late, chilly and wet Saturday night at Lernerville Speedway.
Following a lengthy delay to the Commonwealth Clash, in which the program had to restart after weather postponed the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series event during qualifying, a patient Dale Blaney was credited with his first Outlaws victory of the season as attrition took its toll on the frontrunners.
“I knew it was going to be tough for them to get it in,” he said. “We just put ourselves in good position and were fortunate enough to win one.”
Blaney inherited the lead with three laps remaining when polesitter Craig Dollansky, who led the first 32 laps, slowed dramatically down the frontstretch as his engine began to expire. Dollansky then putted around the half-mile track to finish 11th.
He wasn’t the only driver to sustain a problem down the stretch. Fast qualifier Paul McMahan exited the track with five laps remaining with apparent engines woes while he was only a couple of car lengths behind Dollansky for the race lead.
Those two issues moved Blaney from third place to the lead to earn his second career World of Outlaws victory at Lernerville Speedway and the seventh of his career.
“We were fortunate,” he said. “No doubt about it. (If) those two guys don’t break, they probably run first and second, and we run third.”
Runner-up Donny Schatz overcame a shaky start and a late error to record his 11th consecutive top five.
Schatz nearly collided with Joey Saldana and Jason Sides in the opening laps, which dropped the World of Outlaws championship points leader to sixth. After working his way back to podium contention, Schatz nearly drove off the track in turn two in the final laps. However, he got on the brakes and didn’t lose a position.
“There was a lot of things going on,” said Schatz, who increased his championship advantage to 114 points over Dollansky. “We had a decent finish. It was a very demanding race track, a very unforgiving night for everyone and I’m glad the fans stuck it out.”
Sides also benefitted from the late attrition to finish third – his 17th top five of the season.
“It’s one of those nights where you’re happy that you do what you do,” he said. “Sometimes when it gets like this, when you have to wait out the rain, it makes for a long night, but still it’s better than a real job. We get to come out here and race in front of these fans and have a good night and put on a good show.”
Saldana finished fourth and Jac Haudenschild charged from 15th to fifth.
The event started off under bright sun only to be shadowed by severe weather. At approximately 7:25 p.m., a violent storm hit the track and halted qualifying while Sam Hafertepe Jr. – the 19th of 31 cars – was in his attempt.
While the strength of the storm ceased around 8:10 p.m., it rained off and on for more than an hour. The first car back on the track occurred at 10:28 p.m. with the first car out for qualifying at 11:30 p.m. The green flag for the feature was waved at 1:20 a.m.