ABERDEEN, S.D. — The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series returned to Brown County Speedway for the first time since 1985 on Sunday night, with Shane Stewart starting on the pole and leading wire-to-wire to claim his fifth checkered flag of the season.
Stewart, whose wife and young daughter joined him in victory lane, captured the Father’s Day victory after he built a sizeable lead on Joey Saldana and Donny Schatz despite navigating through heavy lapped traffic all night.
“[Having my daughter and wife out here] makes it that much more special,” said Stewart, who now sits third in the championship standings. “It’s my second Father’s Day, so it’s cool to have them with me — and happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.
“I wish my dad could be here to celebrate with us, but a lot of love is going back to him. I am very happy we could get the win on Father’s Day.”
Stewart won the dash to start on pole for the feature, and once the green flag dropped, he rocketed out to an early lead as second-starting Dusty Zomer quickly fell off the pace. Zomer’s night went further downhill when he caused the race’s second caution, slipping off the track on lap four and coming to a stop. The home state driver never recovered, finishing 16th.
Up front, fifth-starting Saldana and seventh-starting Schatz quickly cracked the top three by lap 10. The two drivers, who have combined to win 13 of the 39 races this year, applied pressure on the leader early.
The leaders encountered slower lapped traffic early and often at the tight third-mile, circular-shaped track. Stewart had an easier time slicing his way through the traffic as Saldana and Schatz not only battled lapped cars, but each other as well.
As Stewart continued to pad his lead, Saldana and Schatz swapped the runner-up position back-and-forth. Neither driver could capture the position and pull away from the other, as the dense traffic played a role in the battle.
Finally, in the closing laps, Saldana put some space between him and the seven-time series champion and set his sights on the leader. Unfortunately for Saldana, Stewart had amassed over a five second lead by that point.
In the final 10 laps, Saldana was able to shave a second off of Stewart’s lead, but time was not on his side as Stewart was able join Sammy Swindell as the only drivers to win a World of Outlaws race at Brown County by the time the checkered flag waved.
“Track position was just everything, honestly,” Stewart added. “We usually have double-file restarts, and it can create a lot of chaos in our races, but having single-file restarts tonight helped me being out front. My guys gave me a great car all night long, and we finally got a dash draw that benefitted us and we were able to take advantage of it.
“I just can’t thank everyone that is involved with this team enough. We have hit on a little streak here and hopefully we can keep it going all summer. It’s a pleasure to come drive this thing day-in and day-out, it’s really a dream come true.”