Photo Credit: Ron Olds
By Anthony Corini
World of Outlaws
Donny Schatz patiently chased Sheldon Haudenschild all feature before taking the lead with five laps remaining to capture Night 2 of the FVP Outlaw Showdown at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Thursday. Haudenschild led 25 laps, but settled for second to continue his torrid start to 2018, with David Gravel coming from 12th to complete the podium.
Texas native Aaron Reutzel, in search of his first career World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series victory, won the Craftsman Club Dash earning the pole, but it was Haudenschild getting the jump to lead lap one of the Feature. Schatz started fifth and began working the bottom of the speedway meticulously, yet effectively, moving into third on lap six and by Reutzel into second one lap later.
Haudenschild’s lead disappeared in traffic as he and the nine-time series champion were side by side at the line on lap 12. As the duo entered turn one, the lone red flag of the feature halted action as Kerry Madsen got upside in turn two. Madsen walked away from the incident under his own power.
A lap-15 caution gave Schatz the opportunity to size up the Stenhouse Jr.-Marshall No. 17. The duo battled side-by-side for a pair of laps, with the young Haudenschild pounding the cushion and the veteran Schatz smooth as can be on the bottom.
Two laps later, on another restart, Schatz slipped as far back as fifth but came back a man possessed and charged his way, on the bottom, back to the runner-up position in time for the final caution of the night, which flew on lap 22.
Haudenschild fended off Schatz for a trio of laps before lowering his line in turn three and four, allowing Schatz to get underneath him and lead lap 26. Sheldon got up on the wheel and made it close in the final laps, but was unable to secure the sweep of the weekend, settling for second.
“I felt like I ran 29 good laps and one not very good lap and Donny is great at capitalizing on any mistake,” Haudenschild said after the race. “I’m still really happy with our performance this weekend. I can’t thank NOS Energy Drink, the Marshall family and Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) enough. We are having a lot of fun, and that’s what matters most.”
“Sheldon was really good on the cushion, and I was kind of married to the bottom because I knew you are not going to pass him up there,” said Schatz, who has now won three of the five Outlaw races in 2018.
When asked about his hiccup and falling back on the restart, Schatz smiled and said, “Well, that’s what it makes it fun. We made up for it.
“My guys gave me an awesome working race car, and we are looking forward to Ricky (Warner) coming back to us, but we are hitting on all cylinders right now. Hopefully, we can keep winning some more races,” Schatz added.
For the second consecutive night, David Gravel charged from deep to a top-five finish, this time coming from 12th to complete the podium. “We are passing a lot of cars in the feature, we just need to qualify better and get some better track position. Hats off to my guys, we had to change motors before Qualifying and we are able to bounce back,” Gravel said.
FVP-sponsored driver Brian Brown bounced back from a DNF in the Craftsman Club Dash to finish fourth with Reutzel completing the top five. Logan Schuchart earned KSE Hard Charger honors coming from 22nd to eighth.