Schatz Storms To Win No. 249 on Friday at Textron Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals
High speeds and high drama converged during a spectacular Friday night of Textron Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals racing at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. The second night of World Finals action saw Donny Schatz collect his 249th World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Cars victory after 30 laps of adrenaline-charged, wheel-to-wheel racing on Charlotte's high-speed, four-tenths-mile oval.
Schatz - who has already clinched his ninth series championship and fourth in a row - had a tough road to victory on Friday. He started third in the feature but managed to out-maneuver Ian Madsen and Bill Balog, the top two starters, in the first half of the 30-lap event.
The Tony Stewart Racing driver held off Madsen by 0.376 seconds after a six-lap shootout to the finish. Dave Blaney, Kerry Madsen and Joey Saldana completed the top five.
"This team worked awful hard all year," Schatz said. "We've been stuck on 19 (wins), so to get to 20 is good. It actually sucks that the season's over (after Saturday) because we're rolling, but the guys deserve some time off to be with their families. We enjoy the hell out of winning. That's for sure."
David Gravel, Paul McMahan, Saldana, Daryn Pittman, Blaney and Jason Johnson captured heat victories. Madsen and Balog won dashes.
The penultimate night of World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Models racing saw Brandon Sheppard score an impressive victory after he cleared Mike Marlar for the lead with three laps to go. Sheppard rode the cushion to his 18th victory of the season, tying Josh Richards' single-season Outlaw late model win record.
"I haven't been this pumped up in a while," Sheppard said. "I hope I put on a good show for the fans. Dirt late model racing wouldn't be what it is without the fans out here.
"What a phenomenal year. We tied the record so I guess we got a chance at breaking it now. We've got to win tomorrow. … I know we had the points championship wrapped up so I was going to crash it or win."
"(Sheppard) was up there where I wanted to be but he got beside us and got by us," Marlar said. "We've had a good start to the week so far so we're pretty happy with that."
Marlar, Richards, Jimmy Owens, Dale McDowell, Dennis Erb Jr. and Brandon Sheppard won heats.
Mat Williamson rocketed to a dominant Super DIRTcar Series victory, the second of his career and his first on dirt racing's biggest stage. Williamson held off a spirited challenge from points leader Matt Sheppard while Billy Decker, Keith Flach and quick-timer Mike Mahaney rounded out the top five.
"I just couldn't get through traffic," Williamson said. "Once I caught lapped cars we kind of struggled a bit and I knew Matt (Sheppard) would be there. He's a hell of a race car driver. We had to capitalize on that last restart and we did. It's pretty awesome."
Sheppard's bid for a championship continues Saturday as Decker gets one last try to unseat Sheppard from the top spot in Super DIRTcar's season finale.
"We just seemed so darn equal," Sheppard said of his battle with Williamson. "It just seemed whoever beat who to the front on that restart, that's who had it won. … I guess we're still alive (for the title). It's going to come down to the last 40 laps."
Gates for Saturday's season finales open at noon with opening ceremonies beginning at 4:45 p.m.
Fans from 48 U.S. states including Alaska and Hawaii have joined attendees from as far away as South Africa and Scotland to make the World Finals a truly world-class showcase of speed, excitement and championship drama.