Chad Kemenah. Donny Schatz. Chad Kemenah. Donny Schatz. Those two waged a back-and-forth battle before Schatz finally secured the lead with eight laps to go on Monday night at Lawrenceburg Speedway for his fifth World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory of the season.
Kemenah led the first six laps, Schatz countered to lead the next five, Kemenah went back in front for 16 laps before Schatz slid to the top to lead the final eight laps as Kemenah with sealed-up tires wound up settling for third behind eventual runner-up Shane Stewart.
“We’ve been trying to find that little thing that just hasn’t put us in the game and finally tonight we found it,” said Schatz, the Fargo, N.D., driver of the Tony Stewart Racing STP/Armor All J&J. “The more patient I was the better the car was and the fuel load coming off definitely helped, too. The championship is a long ways out and if we can just stay consistent and find little problems that keep us from winning races, if we make as many improvements as we did tonight, it’ll be alright.”
Kemenah appeared to have a lock on the second position, but a late race charge by Stewart brought the fans to their feet. Stewart and Kemenah battled through turns three and four, and were still deadlocked. The two were hammerdown to the checkered flag and in a photo finish Stewart earned the position.
“I had a really good car and was able to gain a couple of positions in the dash, which is very, very important with these guys,” said Stewart, a native of Bixby, Okla., who was driving the Indy Race Parts Maxim. “I don’t get to race with the (World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series) so anytime I can have a good showing it’s very important to me.”
Kemenah was pleased to be on the podium, but disappointed at the same time as he came so close to picking up his first victory of the season.
“We just sealed up the tires, we haven’t been very good when the track’s been slick this year,” said Kemenah, of Alvada, Ohio. “Once your tires are sealed up you are kind of just a sitting duck. I hate to say it, but you almost make your car as wide as you can. We’re not going to complain, third is better than fourth, but when you lead that many laps you want to win.”
World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series championship leader, Daryn Pittman, scored another top-five finish by coming home fourth. Sammy Swindell rounded out the top five in a truly astounding show. Swindell’s front wing collapsed early in the race and he fought the car to remain in the top five.
A night after racing in the Coca-Cola 600, Tony Stewart returned to compete with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Cars. He kicked off the night with a strong top-10 qualifying effort, but a wild heat race relegated him to the Last Chance Showdown. Pittman won the heat from the fourth starting spot, with Darrah falling from the pole to finish second. Jason Sides and Steve Kinser weaved through their way through the field. Sides started the heat seventh and finished third while Kinser started ninth and moved up to fourth to advance. That left Stewart outside the inversion, forcing him to come through the Last Chance Showdown, which he won. Stewart eventually finished 10th, his sixth top-10 of the season.
The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series returns to action on Friday night at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park on Friday, May 31 then shifts to Lake Odessa, Mich., on Saturday to race in the NAPA Auto Parts Outlaw Showdown at I-96 Raceway.