The proverbial Month of Money is here and five-time champion Donny Schatz is heating up, becoming just the second driver to repeat as winner of the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series Ohio Logistics Brad Doty Classic on Thursday night at Limaland Motorsports Park.
Schatz pulled off a slide job to go around leader Shane Stewart on lap 24 and held off Paul McMahan and points leader Daryn Pittman to the checkered flag for his ninth victory of the season as the top three in the championship standings finished in reverse order on the podium.
Schatz started the night by qualifying 8th in his Tony Stewart Racing STP/Armor All J&J and then winning his heat race. A third-place finish in the dash put him behind Stewart and James McFadden to start the 40-lap A-main, where he fell backwards while struggling with handling due to a full fuel load before beginning his surge to the lead about 10 laps into the feature.
“We didn’t start very well, the car started way too tight,” said Schatz, of Fargo, N.D. “The longer we went the better we got. Paul was good on restarts and was really good off of the bottom, but once we got speed built up we were better than him.”
McMahan started fifth in the CJB Motorsports GF1 and worked his way through the field patiently, even passing Schatz for the lead on a restart just as the caution waved before the lap could be completed, relegating him back to second where Schatz tried to keep him the rest of the night.
“To come home second isn’t a bad night, but to run second at the Brad Doty Classic just sucks,” said McMahan, of Nashville, Tenn. “This guy is my hero and this is a race that would mean the world to me, probably as much as Knoxville or the Kings Royal. On restarts I was good, but once he got rolling he got rolling pretty good. On the last restart we dropped a cylinder and we were just thankful the motor stayed together and we came home second.”
Pittman moved from ninth to third, first working the bottom of the track, then on the advice of crew chief Kale Kahne moving up to the top groove where picked up several more spots. Pittman qualified 20th and won his heat race to continue his domination in the overall series standings.
“The car was really good and Kale told me to go to the top, and he told me a few yellows before I actually went up there,” said Pittman, of Owasso, Okla. “We’re close, to start ninth and finish third on a track like that we were really happy. When I went to the top I started making more speed and could get to McMahan’s bumper and just couldn’t quite pull it off. For that race track there was no real preferred line, you could run the top, middle or bottom.”
Danny Holtgraver picked up 11 spots en route to a fourth-place finish. David Gravel worked his way up to third momentarily but wound up settling for a fifth-place finish.
Christopher Bell started his night in a big way by setting quick time, but he struggled later as he spun twice in the dash, started the A-main in 12th then had a motor let go in a bellow of smoke down the front stretch.
Jason Sides had one of the most impressive drives of the night, starting the A-main in 24th ahead of the provisional starters and methodically working his way to finish sixth to earn the KSE Hard Charger Award.
The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series is back in action Friday night at Eldora Speedway for the “Knight Before the Kings Royal” and again on Saturday night for the $50,000 to win “Kings Royal” to officially kick off the Month of Money.