Donny Schatz is proving once again there isn’t much he can’t do in a racecar.
A week after making history by winning the FVP Knoxville Nationals from the deepest starting position ever, Schatz on Friday night at River Cities Speedway became the first driver to win a World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series A-main in addition to winning a dirt Late Model feature just minutes apart.
In the main event at the 3/10-mile high-banked oval, Schatz powered to his 15th World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory of the season, leading all 40 laps and preventing runner-up Cody Darrah from completing a sweep of the Outlaws events at the track after he won there in June.
Championship points-leader Daryn Pittman was third with Brad Sweet and Craig Dollansky rounding out the top five.
Schatz, the five-time and defending series champion who is second in points behind Pittman, started on the pole and beat Pittman into turn one. Schatz faced a few tricky spots in lapped traffic, including near disaster when contact nearly spun him. As the laps ticked off, Schatz continued to build his advantage in his STP/Armor All J&J and no cautions in the 40-lap A-main hindered Darrah’s efforts to close the gap.
The Kasey Kahne Racing entries of Pittman, Darrah and Sweet battled it out for the three spots after Schatz. Pittman held off early race challenges by Darrah, but with leaders entering lapped traffic starting on lap five, Darrah would have plenty more chances.
The duo ran side-by-side for several laps with Pittman in his Great Clips car doing everything he could to hold off his teammate for the valuable position in championship hunt. On lap 18 in heavy lap traffic, Pittman finally slipped and Darrah powered around the outside in his SurePointMedical.com ride.
As the laps counted down, Darrah closed the gap to Schatz but ran out of laps in his effort to run him down.
After the 40-lap feature, an ecstatic Schatz emerged from his car in victory lane
“It was a fun night, I was wondering what I was doing with the late model when I got here,” said Schatz, of Fargo, N.D. “And in the sprint car this STP team is just incredible. These guys do a phenomenal job, they’re celebrating, they’re working hard to get ready for Minot on Sunday night.”
Darrah has quickly become a fan of River Cities, finishing first and second in two trips there this season.
“As I got into second I felt like he was out there a bit, but as the race went on it looked like he was getting closer and closer,” said Darrah, of Red Lion, Pa. “At the end I thought I had a chance, I saw him almost get into the infield and a lot of dust, but in the end we just didn’t get close enough. It was tricky to run the bottom for me, we were a little tight and it was a little easier to run the top, but it wasn’t the fast line.”
With as much success as Pittman has had this season, he was disappointed with a third-place run after earning a prime starting spot by finishing second in the dash earlier in the evening.
“Anytime you start on the front row and you don’t win, or contend for the win it’s tough,” said Pittman, a native of Owasso, Okla. “If I need to improve on anything, it’s tracks this size. Starting on the front row and getting beat and as bad as we did it’s just not fun. We’ll take it and move onto Minot, I won the last time I was there, but it’s been a pretty long time since I’ve been there.”
Steve Kinser had his second strong run in a row, finishing sixth on Friday night only a few days after posting his second victory of the season.
Tim Kaeding struggled early in the night on the high-speed short track and was forced to come out of the Last Chance Showdown, but after starting last in the feature Kaeding drove the Roth Enterprises KPC up to 13th to earn the KSE Hard Charger award.
The race within the race of the night was the six-lap dash that saw Schatz and Pittman side by side for nearly every lap from the front row. Pittman led most of the race, as they crisscrossed and threw slide jobs at one another diving into every corner, but Schatz would earn the victory as Pittman appeared to have spun coming off of the bottom of turn four giving Schatz just enough room to capture the win.
With the win Schatz, closed the gap a little more on Pittman in the championship battle. Pittman has controlled the top spot since the opening night of the season, but Schatz has now moved to only 60 points behind.
The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series next invades Nodak Speedway on Sunday night in Minot, N.D., where Schatz was raised before relocating to Fargo.