CALISTOGA, Calif. — Donny Schatz passed Brad Sweet on lap 25 and ultimately picked up his 18th World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series win of the season, topping Saturday night’s finale to the Wine Country Outlaw Showdown at Calistoga Speedway.
Sweet, who swept Friday’s portion of the event, held off a charging Shane Stewart early, before Stewart succumbed to a flat tire.
Schatz finally got by Sweet in heavy lapped traffic, while Daryn Pittman surged around his teammate on the final lap to take second, forcing Sweet to settle for third.
Despite a race-ending masterpiece, it has been far from easy the last two weeks for the eight-time and defending champion. Schatz was forced to use a provisional on both nights of the Gold Cup Race of Champions and had to switch to a backup car Saturday night.
It was evident in the way he drove at Calistoga that Schatz wanted to wrap up the West Coast swing on a good note.
“It was just one of those nights. You don’t know if it’s a nightmare or a freak show,” Schatz said. “That’s racing, though; you have to battle through adversity. These guys never stopped working and here we are.”
Schatz assumed second on lap 10, after Stewart was forced pit-side with his flat tire, and lurked behind Sweet’s Ollie’s Bargain Outlet No. 49 as he maneuvered through lapped traffic around the half-mile.
Sweet hiccupped in traffic on lap 22, allowing the rest of the field to close in. As Schatz began to make the bottom work, Jason Johnson pulled outside of Schatz looking to make a move of his own.
“I knew someone was outside of me. I had to go,” Schatz said.
And go he did, as Schatz darted to the bottom and slid up on Sweet to take command on lap 25. Sweet tried to return the favor, but incidentally let Johnson get by for second.
An open red on lap 27 set up a three-lap dash to the finish. Schatz was strong on the restart as Pittman, who restarted fourth, slid underneath Johnson and Sweet to take second.
The maneuvering behind him allowed Schatz to go unchallenged over the final three laps for his 18th win of the year.
Schatz is now just three victories away from his milestone 250th Outlaws feature win.
Pittman, who was working out the bugs of a new car, was happy with the progress his Great Clips No. 9 made throughout the evening.
“We didn’t start off where we needed to be,” admitted Pittman. “But these guys worked really hard and made some great changes for the feature. We’ll take this and build on it heading back East.”
Sweet, who set fast time and won his heat for the second night in a row, finished third.
“I was trying to get runs on the lapped cars and I opened up the door for Donny,” he lamented. “Still, it was a great weekend overall.”
Johnson settled for fourth and David Gravel completed the top five.
Stewart made it back up to 10th from the rear, while Austen Wheatley picked up KSE Hard Charger honors by advancing from 22nd to 14th.
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…