Photo Credit: DB3 Imaging
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 1, 2019) – Donny Schatz parked his Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing No. 15 in victory lane Thursday night at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after a dramatic finish with World of Outlaws point leader, Daryn Pittman.
Tire conservation was key in the 30-lap, $10,000-to-win main event as the semi-banked half-mile clay oval took rubber in the early going. Schatz held the lead early in the race after starting on the pole by way of his DirtVision Fast Pass Dash win and led the first 13 circuits. Pittman, who swept World of Outlaws competition at Volusia Speedway Park to open the season, took the point away from the 10-time and defending series champion in turns one and two on lap 14.
Once out front, Pittman stretched out his advantage over Schatz, but several cautions throughout the race kept Schatz within striking distance. An open red for a fuel stop with five laps to go set up a late-race dash to the checkers.
As the race resumed, Pittman took off, opening a 10 car length lead over the Rush Truck Centers / Ford Performance No. 15. As the leaders took the white flag, Schatz closed to within five car lengths in turn two. Pittman encountered three lapped cars entering turn three, which allowed Schatz to close dramatically. Pittman elected to stay in the rubber on the low side of the speedway, while Schatz ran right through the middle. Pittman got bottled up in traffic exiting the corner as Schatz pulled even with the Roth Motorsports No. 83. In a drag race to the checkers, Schatz edged out Pittman by a mere 0.071 seconds at the line to secure his first win of the 2019 season.
“I went three races without a win… holy hell. We are finally over that hump,” said Schatz with a smirk in reference to an article stating the Fargo driver was off to his worst start since 2013. “I honestly thought I was a sitting duck in second on that fuel stop. Scuba (Steve Swenson, Schatz’s crew chief) told me to just pressure him. Daryn is really good at keeping his car straight and keeping his tires underneath him in the rubber like that. I didn’t think we were going to hit lapped traffic that quick. Without lapped traffic there was no chance. When he went into turn three, and he slowed up I was like, ‘hell, this is a great opportunity,’ and just made it work. Without that, I wouldn’t have won the race.”
“My Tony Stewart Racing guys made a lot of changes to the car today and the car felt really awesome,” continued Schatz, who now sits second, four points behind Pittman in the point standings. “I don’t think I’ve ever had anything that felt that good. We’re having a lot of fun. All we can do is keep doing what we love to do and that’s why we’re all here.”
The win for Schatz was his 13th at the speedway and the 284th of his World of Outlaws career.
On Wednesday night at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas, Schatz raced to a podium finish after driving from 11th to third in the main event.
The “Greatest Show on Dirt” will kick off their first California swing of 2019 on March 8-9 at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif.
2019 Stats (World of Outlaws):
Top Fives: 4
Top Tens: 4
Feature Positions (+/-): +48