Donny Schatz capped off his 10th World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series championship in style, by winning the finale of the World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte on Saturday. Ian Madsen was victorious earlier in the day, as the Friday night main event was pushed back to Saturday afternoon, due to a hard curfew. For Madsen, the 2018 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award, winner, it was his first win of the season, while Schatz snagged his series-best 22ndA-Feature triumph. The series wrapped up the season on Sunday evening with their annual Night of Champions Awards Banquet.
Adding to the totals
Donny Schatz put a bow on another championship in style, as he was victorious in the finale of the World Finals. Schatz used a fast car and a bit of luck to earn the victory. He was running second, when Carson Macedo suffered a flat right rear tire, which handed the lead to Schatz. The North Dakota native then fended off Logan Schuchart, as the pair traded numerous slide jobs, down the stretch, to earn his 22ndwin of the season and the 12thof his career at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. Along with leading the series in wins, Schatz also topped the leaderboard in top-five and top-10 finishes. The now 10-time series champion, recorded 66 top-10 finishes in 71 starts over the course of the Outlaws season. Schatz’s worst finish of the season was a 14th-place effort and he had no DNFs (did not finish) the entire year.
First win outside of Minnesota
Ian Madsen earned each of his first two World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series wins in the state of Minnesota. The Aussie won his first Outlaws race in 2013 at Deer Creek Speedway and followed that up with a win in 2017 at the Jackson Motorplex. Madsen’s win at Charlotte marked his first in a different state. He capitalized in the first feature of the World Finals, when leader Shane Stewart suffered a flat right rear tire. Along with the win, Madsen also wrapped up the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award for 2018.
By signing in for the World Finals, Donny Schatz clinched his 10thWorld of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series championship. In doing so, the North Dakota native became just the second driver in the 40-year history of the series to reach double digit titles, joining 20-time series champion Steve Kinser. Schatz has won five straight titles, the record is six straight, which Kinser accomplished from 1983 to 1988.
A pair of podiums
Logan Schuchart wrapped up a very successful 2018 campaign at the World Finals, with a pair of podium finishes. He came from the 20thstarting spot to finish third in the Saturday afternoon main event, which earned him the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Award. He followed that up with a runner-up finish in the evening race, battling Donny Schatz for the win in the late going. Schuchart traded a number of slide jobs with Schatz, including as the pair came to the white flag. The young Pennsylvanian finished a career-best sixth in points and set new career highs for top-five and top-10 finishes.
Schuchart and the Shark Racing team began the World Finals, with a big announcement on Friday afternoon, that Drydene Performance Products had stepped up to became the primary sponsor for both Schuchart and his teammate, Jacob Allen for the next two seasons. Drydene had graced the top wing of Schuchart’s car for most of the 2018 campaign.
Brad Sweet finished second in points for the second straight year with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series. The Californian wrapped up a very consistent season with a third-place performance in the finale of the World Finals. Sweet was second to Schatz in wins, top-five and top-10 finishes this season. He was able to win the Knoxville Nationals over Schatz, which marked the biggest win of his career and a $150,000 payday.
Best-career Outlaws finish
Spencer Bayston finished fourth in the first feature of the World Finals to garner his best-career World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series finish. The native of Lebanon, IN, started 12thand quickly worked his way forward, aboard the No. 39, owned by Kevin Swindell, who in 2006, became the youngest-ever Outlaws winner at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. Bayston, who is the 2017 USAC National Midget Series champion, missed about six weeks of action earlier this season with a broken leg. Bayston finished sixth in the nightcap, to wrap up a very solid weekend.
A three car effort
The Indy Race Parts team showed up in full force to the World Finals, with three entries. Giovanni Scelzi, who drove for the team for most of the season led the way, with a fifth-place finish in the finale. Teammate, Parker Price-Miller was 10thin the nightcap, after being quickest overall in time trials for the Friday portion of the event and fastest in Flight B for Saturday’s portion. Dominic Scelzi also was in action for the team. All three drivers qualified for both of the main events.
In the top-five
Tim Shaffer wrapped up a very strong 2018 season with a pair of top-five finishes in the World Finals. The veteran driver was second in the opener and fourth in the finale. Shaffer nabbed a total of 11 wins this year, including a $100,000 haul in the Sprint Car World Championship at Mansfield Motor Speedway in Ohio.
Working the bottom to perfection
In classic Greg Wilson style, the veteran driver used the low side of the track in the Saturday afternoon portion of the World Finals to earn a fifth-place finish. The Ohio native lined up 17thand methodically worked his way forward on the bottom, getting as high as second at one point, during the 30-lap race. At the series awards banquet, Wilson announced he is scaling back in 2019 and will not be a full-time World of Outlaws competitor, after three straight years on the road.
Finishing on a solid note
David Gravel wrapped up his three-year stint for CJB Motorsports with a pair of top-10 finishes during the World Finals. He opened the event as the fastest qualifier for the Saturday night portion, during time trials. Gravel finished sixth in the first main event and was seventh in the finale. Gravel now joins Jason Johnson Racing to pilot the No. 41 in 2019 on the Outlaws trail.
Bad, bad luck
The World Finals was a microsm of the season for Kyle Larson Racing, as both cars had plenty of speed, but absolutely no luck. Shane Stewart was well in front of the first feature, when he suffered a flat right rear tire on the 13th lap. In the nightcap, Carson Macedo, who was driving a team car to Stewart, was out front, when he too lost a right rear, with 24 laps in the books. Macedo did finish eighth in the first feature, while Stewart was 11th in the finale.
Donny Schatz had to come from the B-main in the Saturday afternoon portion of the World Finals, which lined him up 21stfor the 30-lap main event. Schatz dodged a number of cautions and survived an attrition-filled race to earn a top-10 finish, which continued his consistency for the season. That run was his 65thtop-10 finish of the season, which he would add to in the nightcap.
Paige Polyak was fastest in Flight A of time trials for the Friday night portion of the World Finals, which ended being finished on Saturday afternoon. For the native of Tiffin, Ohio, it marked the first time in her career that she was fastest in time trials with the Outlaws. Polyak also won the first heat race, which put her in the dash. Last year, Polyak became the first female to win a 410-sprint car race at the Jackson Motorplex in Minnesota.
For the eight straight year, the Saturday evening portion of the World Finals was a complete sell out for grandstand tickets. Fans from all 50 states were in attendance, as well as seven total countries. A nearly full house was on-hand Friday evening and Saturday afternoon as well. One of the biggest crowds ever was present on Thursday evening for qualifying night as well.
Truly the ‘World’ Finals
Drivers from four different countries were in competition at the World Finals. Along with the vast majority of drivers being from the United States, Australian, Canada and the United Kingdom were also represented by drivers competing in the sprint car portion of the event. An Australian driver also raced in the Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modified portion of the show.
Donny Schatz won his fifth straight and 10thoverall World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series title by 286 points over Brad Sweet, who finished second for the second consecutive year. David Gravel was third, with Daryn Pittman just behind him in fourth. Shane Stewart finished fifth, followed by Logan Schuchart in sixth, which marked the best finish of his young career. Sheldon Haudenschild was seventh, rookie Ian Madsen was eighth, Brent Marks finished a career-best ninth, with Kraig Kinser rounding out the top-10. Jacob Allen finished a career-best 11thin the standings.
The 2019 World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series will kick-off in just about 90 days, February 8-10 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, FL. The complete 2019 schedule will be released in the coming weeks.