ROSSBURG, Ohio — David Gravel had his hands full through much of Thursday night’s inaugural Jokers Wild at Eldora Speedway, but the 24-year-old driver held tough and scored his fourth World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series victory of the season.
“It’s awesome. It’s pretty frigging surreal,” Gravel said.
The 24-year-old driver kicked off his dominant run by powering past Donny Schatz in the dash to earn the pole for the feature.
Through the opening laps of the 30-lap event, Gravel pulled out to a steady lead over second place Brian Brown. Through early cautions the field tightened back up.
NASCAR Truck Series stand out and two-time World of Outlaws winner Christopher Bell, who started fourth, powered forward, slipped back and then again made the charge to the front. He had taken over the second spot with the leader in his sights when the caution flag waved and Bell was forced to the pits with a mechanical issue.
On the restart, Gravel had his hands full with Schatz who looked for a way around the No. 5 Big Game Treestands car. Schatz slid through turns one and two but Gravel held him off. Through three and four, Schatz again slid through the corner and the two crossed each other down the front. Gravel still held the lead.
Through the middle of the feature, the fight for third and fourth heated up as Kerry Madsen worked to hold on to the final podium position and Logan Schuchart and Rico Abreu fought to take it away. Schuchart looked to have a chance but Abreu powered forward on a late restart and with a slider, took over third.
As the laps ticked away, the leaders, Gravel, Schatz and Abreu spread out. That did not last long though as Gravel worked his way through traffic in the final 10 laps, Schatz closed the distance and began looking for a line around.
“Lapped traffic really slowed me down,” Gravel said. “I just tried to keep my pace up. I slid (Randy) Hannagan and I know I lost all my speed there.”
Schatz continued the assault through the remaining six laps, getting his No. 15 Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance car side-by-side with Gravel but Gravel held on.