Schatz Flies in East Texas Lone Star Showdown

The Wheatley Chronicles – Volume V, No. 8

KILGORE, Texas (March 3, 2017) – An idle weekend did little to cool off Donny Schatz’ scalding hot hand.

Schatz stormed through Florida in February, winning five of eight features including two of the opening three World of Outlaws events of the season.

The eight-time and reigning WoO champion carried his momentum to Texas by winning Friday night’s 35-lap “East Texas Lone Star Shootout” at the Lonestar Speedway.

Schatz offered the 28-car field little hope, setting the evening’s fast time in qualifying and then leading each lap of his heat and every lap of the Dash before setting the pace for all 35 laps of the main event for the $10,000 triumph.

“It’s crazy just how fast this place is, it’s fun getting around here,” the driver of the TSR/Curb-Agajanian Arctic Cat No. 15 said in victory lane.  “The car got better as the race went on, that’s what we generally try to do.”

While Schatz led every lap, the outcome was in question much of the way with Jason Johnson bearing down on the leader over the final half of the race.

“I thought we might have something, I was working on him on those restarts,” the driver of the Priority Aviation No. 41 said afterward.

The race began with Schatz countering a monster Sheldon Haudenschild slider in turns three and four to pace the opening round.  Schatz reached traffic on the high-banked Lonestar oval in just a handful of laps and the breathtaking game of high speed chess was on with Schatz dicing through traffic ahead of Haudenschild and Johnson.

They finally got a breather after 18 laps when the first caution flew with Johnson then making quick work of Little Haud on the restart to take over second.

Johnson closed in on Schatz and made a challenge or two for the point before another caution flew with just nine laps remaining.

Schatz fought Johnson off on the restart and raced on to his 232nd career World of Outlaws Sprint Car triumph by 1.012 seconds over Johnson with Rookie of the Year contender Haudenschild filling out the podium in third.

Brad Sweet crossed the stripe in fourth with David Gravel rounding out the top five.

The Vitals

Series:  World of Outlaws

Track:  Lonestar Speedway (Kilgore, Texas)

Car Count:  28

Quick Time:  The 19th car to hit the clocks, Schatz hinted at what was to come by setting a rare fast time of 12.170 seconds.

Heat Winners (starting position in parentheses):  Donny Schatz (1), Sheldon Haudenschild (1), Paul McMahan (2).

Heat Moments:  After the first two heats ran off without incident, the caution flew for the first time when Sam Hafertepe, Jr., stopped in turn two on the second lap of the third heat with front end damage.  Two laps later, Joey Saldana got pinched to the bottom of the turn three entry while battling for second with Brad Sweet.  Saldana spun to a stop with left front damage.  Saldana returned after a quick trip to the work area and rallied to finish fifth, salvaging a feature transfer.  In his first start aboard the Buffalo Wild Wings entry, Kevin Thomas, Jr., made a quick trip to the work area as they were getting Saldana on the hook.  The trip didn’t work for KT, as the engine continued to sputter.

Dash Winner (starting position in parentheses):  Donny Schatz (1).

“B” Main Winner (starting position in parentheses):  Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (2).

“B” Main Moments:  An engine change after heat race action for Logan Schuchart didn’t work out as planned, with the Shark entry pulling to the infield with an ill-sounding powerplant before action began; Late to make the call, KT surrendered his fourth starting position and was placed at the tail; An intense battle for seventh (six transferred) between KT and Paul Nienhiser (who was making his first laps of the night after missing qualifying and his heat race with mechanical issues) turned into a meaningful bout when native Floridian R.J. Johnson slowed from a transfer at the midway point; KT gobbled up two positions on the restart to securely make the feature while Nienhiser dodged a Dustin Gates slider that ended up popping the right rear of the Griffith entry after contact with the wall at the same time that Hafertepe defended home turf with a pass of Kraig Kinser for the lead and eventual win.

“A” Main Cautions:  Three

18 Laps – A frantic pace through traffic was interrupted when the first caution flew for Wayne Johnson, who came to a stop on the backstretch.

26 Laps – Ian Madsen stops in turn three with a shredded left rear tire.

Lap 27 Restart – A jumbled restart sends cars scrambling with Joey Saldana, Jason Sides (8th) and Aaron Reutzel (10th) getting the worst of it; Paul McMahan got the number one signal from at least a couple of crew members in the infield.

“A” Main Hard Charger:  Kraig Kinser passed the most by climbing from 20th to 11th, just edging Shane Stewart’s gain of eight positions from 14th to sixth.

The Box Score…

Qualifying: 1. 15-Donny Schatz 12.170, 2. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild 12.247, 3. 49-Brad Sweet 12.350, 4. 41-Jason Johnson 12.387, 5. 49x-Tim Shaffer 12.393, 6. 4-Paul McMahan 12.415, 7. 11k-Kraig Kinser 12.427, 8. 18-Ian Madsen 12.464, 9. 17-Joey Saldana 12.469, 10. 9-Daryn Pittman 12.476, 11. 2x-Parker Price-Miller 12.527, 12. 2c-Wayne Johnson 12.534, 13. 5-David Gravel 12.548, 14. W20-Greg Wilson 12.578, 15. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 12.633, 16. 87-Aaron Reutzel 12.670, 17. 2-Shane Stewart 12.719, 18. 99-Brady Bacon 12.789, 19. 7s-Jason Sides 12.818, 20. 17b-Josh Baughman 12.876, 21. 82-Kevin Thomas, Jr. 13.061, 22. 19-Brent Marks 13.070, 23. 71a-R.J. Johnson 13.137, 24. 17g-Dustin Gates 13.334, 25. 1s-Logan Schuchart 13.471, 26. 1a-Jacob Allen 13.482, 27. 13-Clyde Knipp 15.322, 28. 9x-Paul Nienhiser NT.

Heat One (8 Laps – Top 6 finishers transfer to “A” Feature):  1. 15-Donny Schatz (1), 2. 41-Jason Johnson (2), 3. 5-David Gravel (5), 4. 9-Daryn Pittman (4), 5. 7s-Jason Sides (7), 6. 87-Aaron Reutzel (6), 7. 11k-Kraig Kinser (3), 8. 19-Brent Marks (8), 9. 1s-Logan Schuchart (9).  DNS: 9x-Paul Nienhiser.

Heat Two (8 Laps – Top 6 finishers transfer to “A” Feature):  1. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild (1), 2. 49x-Tim Shaffer (2), 3. 2x-Parker Price-Miller (4), 4. 18-Ian Madsen (3), 5. 2-Shane Stewart (6), 6. W20-Greg Wilson (5), 7. 17b-Josh Baughman (7), 8. 71a-R.J. Johnson (8), 9. 1a-Jacob Allen (9).

Heat Three (8 Laps – Top 6 finishers transfer to “A” Feature):  1. 4-Paul McMahan (2), 2. 49-Brad Sweet (1), 3. 2c-Wayne Johnson (4), 4. 99-Brady Bacon (6), 5. 17-Joey Saldana (3), 6. 13-Clyde Knipp (9), 7. 17g-Dustin Gates (8), 8. 82-Kevin Thomas, Jr. (7), 9. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (5).

Dash (6 Laps):  1. 15-Donny Schatz (1), 2. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild (2), 3. 41-Jason Johnson (4), 4. 49-Brad Sweet (6), 5. 49x-Tim Shaffer (5), 6. 4-Paul McMahan.

“B” Feature (12 Laps – Top 6 finishers transfer to “A” Feature):  1. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (2), 2. 11k-Kraig Kinser (1), 3. 19-Brent Marks (4), 4. 82-Kevin Thomas, Jr. (9), 5. 17b-Josh Baughman (3), 6. 9x-Paul Nienhiser (8), 7. 1a-Jacob Allen (7), 8. 17g-Dustin Gates (6), 9. 71a-R.J. Johnson (5).  DNS: 1s-Logan Schuchart/

“A” Feature (35 Laps):  1. 15-Donny Schatz (1), 2. 41-Jason Johnson (3), 3. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild (2), 4. 49-Brad Sweet (4), 5. 5-David Gravel (7), 6. 2-Shane Stewart (14), 7. 99-Brady Bacon (12), 8. 49x-Tim Shaffer (5), 9. 4-Paul McMahan (6), 10. 9-Daryn Pittman (10), 11. 11k-Kraig Kinser (20), 12. 18-Ian Madsen (11), 13. 2x-Parker Price-Miller (8), 14. 17-Joey Saldana (15), 15. W20-Greg Wilson (17), 16. 17b-Josh Baughman (23), 17. 82-Kevin Thomas, Jr. (22), 18. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (19), 19. 19-Brent Marks (21), 20. 87-Aaron Reutzel (16), 21. 7s-Jason Sides (13), 22. 9x-Paul Nienhiser (24), 23. 2c-Wayne Johnson (9).

Lap Leaders: Donny Schatz 1-35.