Donny Schatz had to work hard to earn his 11th World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory of the season and second win this year at Williams Grove Speedway.
Schatz, of Fargo, N.D., led only the final three laps of the 30-lap feature, but for the second consecutive time in World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series action at Williams Grove dating back to May, he was able to find a way past Greg Hodnett and into victory lane in his STP/Armor All J&J.
Lance Dewease started on the pole and jumped out to an early lead, but he could never shake Schatz or fourth-starting Hodnett. The three cars with extremely talented veteran drivers put on a clinic in a battle for the lead with Dewease on the bottom, Schatz a lane up and Hodnett running the top-side of the historic paper-clip half-mile oval.
With Dewease in front on lap 15, Hodnett slipped past Schatz for second and charged after Dewease. Hodnett got the advantage coming off the fourth corner to lead lap 17, then Schatz found a way around Dewease with 8 laps to go in the caution-free race and closed quickly on Hodnett for the lead.
Schatz’s car was gaining speed as the laps counted down, and by lap 26 in traffic Schatz looked to make the move to the front, completing a pass on the backstretch to lead lap 27 then hold off Hodnett to the checkered flag. Schatz’s victory also secured the Morgan Cup trophy for the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series and a $5,000 bonus for Schatz. The Morgan Cup is a sterling silver traveling trophy that resides with the organization represented by the winning driver of the A-main. It marks the third straight year the Morgan Cup has gone to the Outlaws.
“In the beginning of the race, those guys were good, and we had to wait for the fuel load to burn off,” said Schatz, the five-time and defending World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series champion. “Those guys were trying to get through lapped traffic and I was trying to be patient and we were just in the right place at the right time. There were a couple of cars that I had trouble lapping and figuring out how to get around them and you just have to figure out how to get around them. These guys did a great job with the STP car again today, and it’s fun to get into it every day.”
For Hodnett, the finish was somewhat similar to the way Schatz won the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series race in May at Williams Grove, where Hodnett also finished second after Schatz made a last-lap pass for the win.
“It was a very tight race, it was a very good race, and Donny as always did a great job and that’s why he’s a World of Outlaws champion,” said Hodnett, of Thomasville, Pa. “At one point it was five-wide down the back stretch with lapped cars and it was pretty intense.”
Dewease was forced to settle for a third-place finish to round out the podium after leading the first 16 laps.
“We haven’t fixed our car issue all year, late in races we slow down and these tires have thrown us for a loop,” said Dewease, of Fayetteville, Pa. “Donny and Greg are both really good here right now, I think they both ran one and two here earlier this year. We’ve got some work to do and we’ll take a third and be happy with it. The lapped cars here tonight were very disrespectful, there were one or two that I passed and they would drive back into the car like they were racing me for position.”
Fred Rahmer finished fourth while Craig Dollansky completed the top five. Alan Krimes was the KSE Hard Charger after starting 24th in the feature event and finishing 13th.
As is to be expected, the strong field of 44 cars presented a significant challenge. Points-leader Daryn Pittman and three-time champion Sammy Swindell made the A-main through the Last Chance Showdown while Paul McMahan and David Gravel used provisional to make the feature event. For only the first time this year Steve Kinser was unable to make the A-main.
For Schatz, who not only won but also set quick time to earn an additional five points in the season-long championship battle, it was a huge gain in points. He now trails Pittman by 105 points heading as the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Cars invade Lebanon Valley Speedway on Sunday night in West Lebanon, N.Y., before moving to central New York on Tuesday at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in Elbridge, just west of Syracuse.