SAUX RAPIDS, Minn. — After Jason Johnson dominated the proceedings Tuesday night at Granite City Speedway, Donny Schatz used a mid-race restart to capture his 11th World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series win of the season.
Looking for the clean sweep on the evening, Johnson got the early jump on the 30-lap main event at Granite City, opening up a five-car length lead over eight-time and defending World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series champion Schatz.
However just shy of the halfway point of the 30-lap race, a yellow flag was displayed for a slowed Ian Madsen, who had a flat tire.
On the restart, Johnson looked like he was going to pick up where he left off, rocketing out to a quick lead over Schatz. As the field made their way down the backstretch, Johnson chose to enter turn three on the top side, leaving Schatz the bottom.
“(Schatz) just knew what he needed to do to get by me on that restart,” said Johnson. “We had a car just as fast as his.”
“Races aren’t won on the start, a lot of people never figure that out,” said Schatz. “We just wait for an opportunity. We got a run on (Jason) on the start and we went down the back and he decided to go up top into three and I went where he didn’t and we were able to get by.”
At the same time, Brad Sweet wanted a piece of the action, having got by Kerry Madsen on the restart for third.
“The car was really good in the beginning,” said Sweet.
With Schatz out front, Johnson and Sweet were nipping at his heels.
The top three, all within a half-second of each other, had to contend with lapped traffic the remaining half of the race. That didn’t seem to slow them down, though, as the three were trading positions looking to pick up their next win on the season.
“I threw everything I knew I had at (Schatz) to try to get by him,” added Johnson. “We like to win for sure. Anytime you can race with Donny and battle with (Donny), it’s a lot of fun. (Schatz) is one of the cleaner racers out here.”
The final five laps of the race it looked like it could have to gone to Schatz, Johnson or Sweet, as they all traded positions back and forth. Schatz was just able to pick his line and get through lapped traffic first to power his way home for his 11th victory of the season.
“I think everything raises the heart rate,” said Schatz. “There’s a lot of great racers out here right now and they’ve got their game on. These Arctic Cat guys are in the same boat. They work their tails off to be good. We were a lot better earlier in the night — that’s kind of odd, usually we get better as the night goes on. We got the job done and that’s about it.”
Sweet, who started 10th for the feature, charged his way forward and looked like he had something for both Schatz and Johnson. Though he couldn’t pick up the win, he did pick up the KSE Hard Charger award.
“Lapped cars just didn’t play out or if we got (Johnson), he got us back,” Sweet explained. “This NAPA Auto Parts car has been really fast, we put ourselves a little behind tonight but it was nice to drive up in there. If we keep having cars like this, we’ll be able to win some more of these.”
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…