Donny Schatz drove to his sixth World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory on Friday night in the Big Game Shootout Presented by Eyecon Trail Cameras at Jackson Speedway.
Schatz started the 30-lap feature on the inside of the third row in his Tony Stewart Racing STP/Armor All J&J and quickly worked his way to the front. By lap 10 he had moved into second behind points leader Daryn Pittman, then exchanged the lead with Pittman from laps 13 through 15.
When a caution flew with 14 laps in the books, Pittman used the restart to run out to another quick lead in the Kasey Kahne Racing Great Clips GF1, but the restart was called back when officials declared David Gravel had jumped too soon.
Schatz learned from that start and would not be beaten again. As he and Pittman charged into turn one, Pittman again went to the bottom, but this time Schatz made the high-side work and powered around Pittman. Schatz pulled away as best he could, navigating through traffic but still maintaining his advantage to the checkered flag for the series-leading sixth time this season.
“We had a great car, we were good early, it took maybe three laps to get going, but once the track got on the bottom we found the bottom first and were able to get past Daryn,” said Schatz, of Fargo, N.D. “He got us back on the start, but it’s hats off to these STP guys, this is the same car we struggled with last weekend, they took it all apart and found a few things and put new pieces on it and it’s pretty good. Everyone has done their jobs really well and we’re just happy to get a win.”
Pittman continued to try to run down Schatz but also maintained his lead over the impressive battle for third between pole-sitter Craig Dollansky and Sammy Swindell.
“I figured someone was coming, you could see the bottom was getting used quite a bit, and I noticed I wasn’t catching lapped cars as quick as we probably should have been,” said Pittman, a native of Owasso, Okla. “I moved down in three and four and it felt pretty good, but I just didn’t move down quick enough in one and two and he got by us. We were able to get by him, you know that wasn’t the end of our race I just gave it away on the restart, I just went to slow around the bottom and he got around on the outside.”
Dollansky and Swindell put on a show for the final spot on the podium, with Tim Kaeding lurking just behind, ready to jump on any mistakes. Whether competing with each other or attempting to move through lapped cars, Dollansky and Swindell threw move after move on each other as Kaeding pulled close any time the teammates found traffic.
Dollansky started on the pole, looking for his third consecutive victory after a couple of dominating runs last weekend, but Pittman seized the lead on the opening lap. Then Schatz was clearly on the move and was able to work past Dollansky on the bottom. Swindell started attacking mid-race and the two had fans on the edge of their seats the rest of the race. Swindell passed Dollansky on the bottom of turn one, but Dollansky pushed back. Dollansky continued to work the highest part of the track all the way around, and with just a few laps remaining passed Swindell, who charged back and was eventually only .245 seconds behind Dollansky at the finish.
“Definitely would like to get a win here with the Eyecon Trail Camera team we had a great starting spot, but we had a good battle going on with Sammy once we slid back there in third,” said Dollansky, an Elk River, Minn., native and driver of the Eyecon Trail Cameras/Big Game Treestands Maxim. “We came home third, those boys Daryn and Donny were running pretty good. We’re working on trying to be consistent. You know if you’re running up there like that, the wins will come.”
The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series is back on track Saturday night at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway for the Mediacom Shootout, the final visit to the track before the historic Knoxville Nationals.