Donny Schatz swept the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series weekend by capitalizing on leader Brian Brown’s slip night at Knoxville Raceway.
Schatz, the five-time and defending series champion who won night at Jackson Speedway, was running second mid-way through night’s 30-lap Mediacom Shootout when Brown tried to get through lapped traffic. Brown bounced his car off the wall, damaging the front suspension and nearly stalling it, but he was able to keep the car going without bringing out a caution.
Schatz charged ahead into the lead in his STP/Armor All J&J and drove off to victory, becoming the second driver in the past two weeks to sweep the weekend events after Craig Dollansky accomplished the feat last weekend.
“We’re just doing our job right now, we’re having fun and that’s important and we’re making changes for the better,” said Schatz, of Fargo, N.D. “I’m glad to be heading near home next weekend and running good, that’s always good because we would like to get a win at home, that’s for sure.”
Even with a few restarts, Brown would neither gain nor lose much ground to Schatz, but would still settle for second in the Casey’s General Stores/FVP Maxim. Brown has finished second or third to Schatz in each of the past three World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series races at Knoxville, including last year’s Knoxville Nationals.
“We got in there behind those lapped cars and they were racing hard for position and I just got tight,” said Brown, of Grain Valley, Mo. “I couldn’t get it off the cushion and got into the fence and nearly crashed. It bent the front axle back. It sounds familiar, wins the heat, wins the dash, leads the feature and runs second. I think we’re closing on him. I don’t think Donny was as good as he was last time here, or that we got better.”
Late in the race Paul McMahan would return to his starting spot of third, but the podium position did not come easily. Bronson Maeschen, the fast qualifier for the event, held the position for much of the race. Maeschen held off charges by fellow Knoxville regular Ian Madsen and World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series championship contender McMahan. Just before the mid-race point Maeschen’s motor was audibly hurt, but he still held the spot over Madsen and McMahan.
As the race went on, McMahan made the top of the track work in his CJB Motorsports GF1 and he would capture the position and hold on to the spot.
“The top kind of went away and I was super tight from the center out, the thing would stand up on the left rear,” said McMahan, of Nashville, Tenn. “When it did finally clean off I was actually able to get the car down and drive off half-way decent. I had my hands full there for the 25 laps, but it was a good run for us tonight.”
Maeschen’s motor let go with just one lap to go and he was forced to pull off, finishing a disappointing 17 after starting the event so strong. Ian Madsen finished fourth while championship leader, Daryn Pittman, who started 12th, moved up seven spots to round out the top five.
Tim Kaeding was able to finish 8th after starting a dismal 21st in the feature event and earn the event’s KSE Hard Charger honors.
Schatz and McMahan are still nearly deadlocked in the championship standings after both drivers picked up podium finishes . Schatz trails Pittman by 137 points, while McMahan trails Schatz by just four points.