ROSSBURG, Ohio — official release — Doug Vandeventer photo — Kerry Madsen did something Saturday night few before him have ever done – he won the Kings Royal, one of the most coveted prizes on the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series schedule, and the right to be called ‘King.’
In front of a packed Eldora Speedway, the newly crowned ‘King Kerry’ was emotional and at times speechless in victory lane as he thanked the fans, his team owners, crew members and sponsors.
“I just want to thank Eldora Speedway for just letting me be part of this fantastic race,” Madsen said. “I moved over from Australia and this is pretty much the race that hooked me on American racing.”
Madsen, who started seventh, took over the lead from David Gravel on lap 13.
“I got an awesome run,” Madsen said. “David and Donny were kind of battling there and it just left the topside open. I had the wing kind of in the trunk and the thing just sat down there and rolled around that corner wide open and we just pulled it off. We got a lot of momentum and track position after that.”
As the laps ticked by, Madsen built an impressive lead, maneuvering through lapped traffic and holding off challenges from Schatz and Gravel. A caution on the last lap presented Madsen with one final obstacle.
“I was just really, really trying to hold my concentration in the last ten laps,” Madsen said. “Just stay motivated and hit my marks and I have to admit I started counting the laps down when there was five to go. Backed the pace down, brought her a little away from the wall. And the white flag lap I thought we have a shot here and then, what do you know, the yellow comes out.”
After coming so close to winning the famed event in years past, Madsen was focused on the competition behind him and keeping them there.
“When you have a champion like Donny behind you, you know you can’t make a mistake… and obviously David was strong all weekend and he was going to be a presence at some point as well,” Madsen said. “Fortunately for me, [my team] gave me that good a car that it just did its own thing anyways.”
This was Madsen’s third Outlaws win at the track. The win for the St. Marys, New South Wales, Australia native also makes him the first Australian to win the Kings Royal. This was the seventh podium finish in a row for Madsen and his fourth win of the season.
As the green flag flew to start the race, pole sitter David Gravel jumped out to an early lead in the Kings Royal over second place starter Donny Schatz. The two battled early, with Schatz eventually taking over the lead on lap nine after he closed the gap on Gravel and slid past out of turn four.
Meanwhile, Madsen, who started seventh, was working his way through the field. He found a fast line high near the wall and following a restart 11 laps in, Madsen used that speed to power past Schatz as Gravel took the lead back over.
Just one lap later, Madsen passed Gravel for first. It was not however smooth sailing for Madsen as he faced three cautions and subsequent restarts. Each time, Madsen maintained his lead, holding Schatz and Gravel back.
A caution that flew on lap 38 eventually turned onto an open red after the Outlaws had reached max laps. Madsen again faced the challenge of maintaining what he had built on the restart. Schatz and Gravel gave one last try at finding a way around Madsen on the green-white-checkered, but it was not to be as Madsen won the Kings Royal.
Second place finisher Schatz said he’s not sure whether the restarts hurt or helped his team but said a changing racetrack affected his night.
“Kerry was definitely a better racecar,” Schatz said. “He got up there and went and was awful fast. When he got there it was hard to even keep up with him. Hats off to those guys, they did a phenomenal job. He’s been knocking at the door of this race for a long time so I’m glad to see him win it.”
“The STP guys did an awesome job – second was the best we could do tonight. All you can do is build on it. We get to race again on Tuesday and try to get ourselves a little better spot.”
Gravel, who finished the night in third after leading ten laps, including the first eight, congratulated Madsen’s crew chief Tyler Swank, who served in the same role with Gravel in previous seasons.
“I know starting on the pole we wanted to win there but to get on the podium my second Kings Royal that I made was pretty good,” Gravel said. “Eldora treats me awesome. All you fans here, I don’t know how many are there, but you guys are awesome.”
“I thought the race was coming towards me with the lapped traffic but that’s the way it goes. We’re going to be happy for the rest of the ‘Month of Money’.”
The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series returns to Pennsylvania next week for a four race swing that will take them to Lernerville Speedway, Lincoln Speedway and Williams Grove Speedway. After that, the Outlaws head to Lebanon Valley Speedway and Fulton Speedway in New York.
RESULTS: World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series; Eldora Speedway; Rossburg, Ohio; July 12, 2014
A-Main – (40 Laps) – 1. 29-Kerry Madsen  [$50,000]; 2. 15-Donny Schatz  [$12,500]; 3. 83-David Gravel  [$7,500]; 4. 71-Kevin Swindell  [$5,500]; 5. 51-Paul McMahan  [$4,500]; 6. W20-Greg Wilson  [$3,800]; 7. 14K-Dale Blaney  [$3,300]; 8. 24-Rico Abreu  [$2,800]; 9. 9-Daryn Pittman  [$2,650]; 10. 7S-Jason Sides  [$2,550]; 11. 53-Christopher Bell  [$2,250]; 12. 11-Steve Kinser  [$2,100]; 13. 21-Brian Brown  [$2,050]; 14. 63-Chad Kemenah  [$2,000]; 15. 1s-Logan Schuchart  [$1,950]; 16. 4-Cody Darrah  [$1,900]; 17. 1-Sammy Swindell  [$1,850]; 18. 83X-Jason Meyers  [$1,800]; 19. 19M-Brent Marks  [$1,750]; 20. 71M-Joey Saldana  [$1,700]; 21. 2-Shane Stewart  [$1,650]; 22. 11K-Kraig Kinser  [$1,625]; 23. 11N-Randy Hannagan  [$1,600]; 24. 49-Brad Sweet  [$1,550]; 25. 59-Tim Kaeding  [$1,550].
Lap Leaders: David Gravel 1-8, 11-12; Donny Schatz 9-10; Kerry Madsen 13-40.
KSE Hard Charger Award: 53-Christopher Bell [+11]