ALGER, Wash. — official release — Tarra Sahlin photo — With another dominant performance during night one of the Monster Meltdown at Skagit Speedway on Friday night, Donny Schatz continued a podium streak that began on July 19 and World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series win streak that now stretches four races.
Schatz, who won 23 races last season with his STP/Armor All team, is proving especially formidable this season as his 18th win of the season extended his championship points lead over second place Daryn Pittman to 197.
“It always feels good to win,” Schatz said. “Especially out here at a place we’ve not been so swell. Hats off to the whole STP team – these guys should be up here (on the podium). They’re doing a phenomenal job. They give me a racecar every night that’s capable of winning and it’s done that. It’s an awful fun position to be in.”
Luck was on Schatz’s side throughout the night. The dash inversion draw put him on the outside pole for the dash and ultimately helped him to the same starting position in the A main. Then, during the feature, Schatz had trouble just before an open red flag.
“We got to lapped traffic before that red and it just kind of started to get tight, I couldn’t stay on the bottom, I was driving across the racetrack and the guys told me there was more air in the left rear than there was in the right rear when we stopped. We had some sort of bleeder issue and got it fixed up and went on.”
With 66 A mains in the books so far this season, Schatz is slightly ahead of his wins pace from last season – he had 17 up to this point. The last driver to score more than 23 wins in a single season was Steve Kinser in 2003.
The green flag fell on the 25-lap, $8,000 to win A main with Cody Darrah and Schatz on the front row. Schatz jumped out front after battling Darrah through turns one and two but a caution flew on lap one as last year’s champion Pittman spun in turn four. The field reset and again Schatz jumped to the lead. As he did that, a battle for second took over, as Darrah fought to hold the position over Brad Sweet who by that point had moved into third. On lap three, Sweet took over the position.
A red flag hit the early portion of the race on lap four after contact between Austen Wheatley and Trey Starks. When the race returned to green Schatz led Sweet, Darrah and Madsen.
On lap 16, as Madsen just fought his way past Darrah for third, a red flag flew as contact left Darrah on his roof and Kraig Kinser done for the night. Both drivers were OK. With the extended red, World of Outlaws officials opened up the track to the teams, giving Schatz and others the opportunity to make minor adjustments.
A final restart, with just nine to go, had Schatz leading Sweet and Madsen to the green flag. Schatz jumped out to a commanding lead as a battle ensued for second. In the closing laps, Madsen discovered the middle line worked well for him through one and two, and the top line in three and four. This gave him the momentum he needed to get around Sweet, who was running the bottom, and take over the second spot.
Schatz won with Madsen in second, Sweet in third, Joey Saldana in fourth and Paul McMahan in fifth.
Madsen said the final red flag was frustrating for him as he closed in on the leaders in his American Racing Custom Wheels car.
“Brad and Donny weren’t that far ahead of me (at the red),” Madsen said. “But obviously that’s sprint car racing. Then you’ve got to go back and attack because it’s a double file restart.”
“Excellent run – I just really want to thank (crew chief Tyler Swank), (and crew members) Chris (Bowe) and Brandon (Ikenberry) for the great job they’ve been doing… it was kind of a frustrating race because just when we felt like we would get going the yellows kept coming out but that’s the way it works sometimes. It was just great to get a top three.”
Sweet, who has 23 top-fives and five wins in his SureTest Supplies car this season, said if he had the opportunity to replay the final laps of Friday night’s feature over, he would have obviously moved to the top in turns three and four to stop Madsen’s momentum.
“He was searching around and Kerry’s been good all year and really aggressive,” Sweet said.
He said he was looking forward to the lapped traffic but cautions stifled that. With Schatz so good in open air on the restarts, Sweet said the No. 15 was the car to beat.
“(A podium finish is) nice – the SureTest car, we’ve been in a bit of a slump, so it’s nice to be back on the front straightaway.”
Barry Martinez was the night’s KSE Hard Charger recipient after advancing nine positions to finish in 13th.
The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series finishes up the Monster Meltdown at Skagit Speedway on Sat., Aug. 30. The Outlaws then head south to Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, Wash. on Sept. 1 before events in Oregon and California.
World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series Statistical Report; Skagit Speedway; Alger, Wash.; Aug. 29, 2014
A-Main – (25 Laps) – 1. 15-Donny Schatz  [$8,000]; 2. 29-Kerry Madsen  [$4,000]; 3. 49-Brad Sweet  [$2,500]; 4. 71M-Joey Saldana  [$2,200]; 5. 51-Paul McMahan  [$2,100]; 6. 26-Tayler Malsam  [$2,000]; 7. 18-Jason Solwold  [$1,800]; 8. 7S-Jason Sides  [$1,600]; 9. 9-Daryn Pittman  [$1,500]; 10. 2-Shane Stewart  [$1,300]; 11. 83-David Gravel  [$1,200]; 12. 11-Steve Kinser  [$1,100]; 13. 66-Barry Martinez  [$1,000]; 14. 88-Jesse Whitney  [$700]; 15. 7SX-Brock Lemley  [$600]; 16. 1A-Jacob Allen  [$600]; 17. 2J-Jonathan Jorgenson  [$600]; 18. 4-Cody Darrah  [$600]; 19. 11K-Kraig Kinser  [$600]; 20. 3C-Jonathan Allard  [$600]; 21. 44W-Austen Wheatley  [$600]; 22. 55-Trey Starks  [$600]; 23. 39C-Travis Rilat  [$600]; 24. 1s-Logan Schuchart  [$600].
Lap Leaders: Donny Schatz 1-25.
KSE Hard Charger Award: 66-Barry Martinez [+9]
Qualifying – 1. 2-Shane Stewart, 11.173