SARVER, Pa. — Donny Schatz did not make it easy, but David Gravel proved up to the task as he battled to his fifth World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series victory of the season in the 25th annual Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway on Tuesday night.
Gravel started from the front, but did not have an easy road as Schatz moved forward early and began challenging the Watertown, Conn.-native for the lead. Through lapped traffic, Schatz closed the distance and then battled by Gravel. Gravel kept up the pressure and was in position to regain the lead the following lap when Schatz bobbled on the cushion. He led the rest of the way.
“Donny is really good — Dale (Blaney) and Donny (are tough) at this type of race track,” Schatz said. “I tried to keep my pace up as good as I could but it got harder and harder and harder to run. When Donny showed his nose there and passed me, I got the wing back and tried a different line down the backstretch and was able to get underneath him and slide him back and slide a lapped car. That was the winning move there really.”
The win comes less than a week after Gravel last stood in victory lane with his CJB Motorsports team — that time at the inaugural Jokers Wild at Eldora Speedway. It is Gravel’s first win at Lernerville and moved him past Brad Sweet into second in championship standings. He is now 226 points behind Schatz.
The No. 5 Big Game Treestands started out the night taking the quick time award – his fourth of the season.
Gravel shared the front row of the feature with Blaney, who stood in victory lane at the Silver Cup in 2015. Through the opening laps, Gravel pulled out to a strong lead over Blaney.
Schatz quickly battled to third and after an early caution pulled wheel-to-wheel with Blaney for second. Blaney however held the spot through the first 10 laps. Another caution brought the field together and after several laps, Schatz battled past Blaney for second.
As Gravel worked his way through traffic, Schatz began closing on the No. 5 car, from an over two second lead, Schatz brought it down to .603 seconds by lap 23. As he rode the cushion around the top of the track, Schatz brought his No. 15 Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance J&J close but could not find a way by.
Gravel again pulled away but Schatz again closed the gap. This time, Schatz got around Gravel after sliding him through turns one and two for the lead. The reigning series champion’s hold on the top spot was tenuous though, as the No. 5 car took advantage of a mistake and retook the top spot.
Though Schatz stayed close, it was smooth sailing to the end.
“Donny was really good there at the end. I could hear him,” Gravel said. “And the cushion pushed the edge of the track off of four and I was just happy to hang on.”
Schatz, fresh off his $50,000 Kings Royal victory, was disappointed by the second-place run.
“I shoved over the edge, that’s just the way it goes,” Schatz said. “Winning the Kings Royal and then coming and running second kind of feels like I let my race team down. I did everything I could. I know they did too … That’s just the way this sport is. Some days you’re the bug, some days you’re the windshield.”
Blaney, who came into the night as the defending winner of the event, sad he was disappointed with the finish for his No. 1b GoMuddy.com team.
“It felt like we had a really good car all night,” Blaney said. “Man, I just couldn’t get maneuverable in that race at all. I couldn’t float the corner. Just really disappointed … we’ve run so good here. We’ve run really good when the track gets like this but we just missed it a little bit in the feature.”
The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series continues through the ‘Month of Money’ as it heads east to Pennsylvania Posse territory, taking on Williams Grove Speedway for the Champion Racing Oil Summer Nationals from July 22-23.