It took 14 races, but Donny Schatz has moved into the lead in the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series standings, following his second win of the season on May 10 in the opener of the #LetsRaceTwo Weekend at the famed Eldora Speedway in Ohio.
As has become all too familiar, though, this season, Mother Nature interrupted the finale of the two-night event, which featured the Outlaws along with the Amsoil USAC National Sprint Car Series, marking the only time all year the two premier sprint car circuits compete at the same track on the same night. They both will return on July 17 for the second night of the event. The Outlaws now head to the sprint car hotbed of Central Pennsylvania as the first East Coast Swing of the season kicks off.
Master of Eldora
With his win in the opener of the #LetsRacingTwo weekend, Donny Schatz now has 16 career triumphs with the series at the historic half-mile. The North Dakota native led all 30 laps en route to his second victory of the season, which also vaulted him into the series points lead. Schatz swept both May races at Eldora in 2018, which gave him a three-race win streak in the #LetsRaceTwo event. Schatz remains the only driver who has finished in the top-10 in each and every race this season, with 14 shows in the books.
“We’ve got a pretty good play book we’ve had over the years, but things change,” said Schatz of his Eldora prowess. “Tires change. Cars change. The ways guys race change, so you’ve got to stay on the front side of it. That’s what we’ve been working on the past couple of months. I feel like we’ve figured out what we need to do to get things right for us.”
Shark Racing in the top-five
For the second time this season, Shark Racing put both of its cars in the top-five, as Logan Schuchart finished second and Jacob Allen, fifth in the opener at Eldora. The team also accomplished that feat last month at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Texas, another famed half-mile.
Macedo continues solid rookie season
Carson Macedo finished third in the opener at Eldora, which marked his best finish with the series at the half-mile. He challenged Donny Schatz early in the race for the lead, before settling in the second spot for a majority of the 30-lap tilt. Macedo remains a solid fourth in the standings aboard the No. 2 for Kyle Larson Racing.
“I thought when I was throwing stuff at him (Schatz) at the beginning, and I was kind of able to maintain after that, I thought maybe if we get to traffic, maybe I could make a move,” said Macedo. “Donny is just exceptional. I didn’t pull the trigger when I probably should have. Just my fault. Something I need to work on as a driver. To win these World of Outlaws races, you just can’t do that.”
Back at Eldora
Tim Kaeding returned to Eldora for the first time since 2014, as he piloted the No. 7S for Jason Sides. In the opener of the two-night event, the Californian finished seventh. Kaeding opened the night as the sixth-fastest qualifier in Flight B of Time Trials. In seven starts for Sides this year, Kaeding has three top-10 finishes, with two of those being top-fives.
Moonlighting for Bell
Christopher Bell used an off weekend from the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Eldora, aboard the No. 39 for the Swindell Speedlab team. Bell ran sixth in the opener, after working his way back forward, after falling out of the top-10, early in the race.
Indy Race Parts on par
The Indy Race Parts team fielded a pair of entries at Eldora, with Gio Scelzi behind the wheel of the No. 71 and Parker Price-Miller, piloting the No. 71P. Price-Miller was fastest in Flight B of time trials and wound up eighth in the 30-lap main event to earn his first top-10 finish of the season with the Outlaws. Scelzi, who was making his first trip of the season to the Midwest, finished ninth.
Biggest field of the year
A stout field of 49 entrants rolled through the gates at Eldora for the opening night of the two-night event. That necessitated a six-heat format, with two flights of time trials, six heat races and a pair of dashes. A C-main also had to be run to whittle the field down to get the 24 starters for the main event.
Rain, rain and more rain
Prior to heading to Eldora, the World of Outlaws lost a pair of shows in the Midwest. The event at Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, AR, on May 3, was cancelled, while the visit to Tri-State Speedway in Indiana on May 4, was re-scheduled to Sunday, October 13. Also, the previously rained out event at Jacksonville Speedway in Illinois was re-scheduled for Wednesday, September 25.
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series begins their first East Coast Swing of the year on Wednesday, May 15 with the running of the Gettysburg Clash at Lincoln Speedway in Pennsylvania. Last year, Freddie Rahmer scored his first-career Outlaws win at Lincoln. Donny Schatz and David Gravel are also past winners at the three-eighths-mile.
The series then heads to the famed Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, PA, May 17-18 for the Morgan Cup. Lance Dewease won twice at the half-mile last year against the Outlaws, including in the National Open, while Gio Scelzi earned his first Outlaws win at the track.
The Outlaws make their only appearance of the season in New York on May 19 at Weedsport Speedway, where Brent Marks won in dominant fashion. The Outlaws then return to Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey on May 24 for the first time since 2003, which will mark the debut of the series on the inner three-eighths-mile.
Donny Schatz moved into the top spot in the series standings for the first time this season, following his win on May 10. The 10-time and defending series champion holds a 14-point lead over Brad Sweet with 14 races in the books. Daryn Pittman remains third, 52 points back, with Carson Macedo in fourth and David Gravel in fifth. Logan Schuchart sits sixth in points, followed by Shane Stewart in seventh, Ian Madsen in eighth, Sheldon Haudenschild in ninth and Kraig Kinser in 10th.