Schatz Seals the Deal
KNOXVILLE, IA (August 13, 2022): Donny Schatz captured his eleventh win in the Knoxville Nationals. He is second only to his former teammate, Steve Kinser, who has twelve. It was Schatz’ first win since 2017, and, importantly, it was his first triumph in the Nationals since losing his father, Danny, to cancer earlier in the 2022 season. The milestone win was also his first major victory since embarking upon the development of the Ford Sprint Car motor. All of these emotions came crashing down on him in victory lane.
Choking back some tears, Schatz dedicated the win to his father and he added that he drew some inspiration from him during the race. “I didn’t drive like I should have at the beginning. I was working the tires, and I could hear him say ‘settle down’ and it worked.”
Schatz explained that he has a new perspective on things since losing his father and experiencing some other personal issues. “Perspective of it is to enjoy every day as if it is the last. You just don’t know. We are all fierce competitors and we get caught up in that and sometimes nothing else matters.” He has realized that he is no different than anybody else. “We all lose family members, we are going to lose people close to us. It has opened my eyes to enjoy the moment. . . . Enjoy it for what it si today becasue you never know when or if it is the last time you are going to get that opportunity. I am very lucky and blessed and get to do what I love to do. Probably enjoying it as much now as I ever have.”
Schatz acknowledged that the team has gone through changes as well, acknowledging that it may have been caused by communications issues on his part.
Schatz admitted that the team made some major changes to the Ford powerplant before the race. “We were decent both nights (for the Capitani Classic and on his qualifying night), but we took a big swing with it and tried something new with the motor tonight. I didn’t know if we were gonna get there after I fell back as far as I did. I just couldn’t control the wheel spin.”
Schatz credited his crew for making the proper changes during the break. “Scuba (Steve Swenson) could read me like a book, and knew when I didn’t say anything that he should throw 911 at it.” He continued, “the guys did an incredible job. It was do or die on the bottom. The car kept getting better and better there at the end.”
Schatz also paid respect to a former competitor, Danny Lasoski, who taught him how to navigate the bottom of the track at Knoxville.
Austin McCarl became only the second Iowa driver in Knoxville history to sit on the pole for this race. The first was his father, Terry, who did not make the 2022 edition. Next to McCarl was Tyler Courtney. Row two paired a couple of former winners, Schatz and David Gravel. The third row belonged to Carson Macedo and his former car owner, Kyle Larson. There was a Pennsylvania feel to row four, which consisted of Brent Marks and Dan Pittman, in the Heffner 27H. Row five belonged to Brad Sweet and J.J. Hickle. Jacob Allen and Parker Price-Miller started from row six. Justin Sanders and Buddy Kofoid were in row seven. Tasker Phillips and Aaron Reutzel departed from row eight. Then came the B Main cars of Logan Schuchart and Giovanni Scelzi, and Justin Peck and James McFadden. The final two rows wer ethe graduates from Hard Knox, Rico Abreu and Kerry Madesn, and Sheldon Haudenschild and Brian Brown.
The opening lap was somewhat chaotic. Hickle got over Pittman’s wheel and tumbled high into the air in turn one. Price-Miller was caught up in the wreck as well. Price-Miller exited the car under his own power, but collapsed to the track. Medical teams responded and he was transported to the local hospital. Hickle required no assistance.
McCarl surged into the lead on the opening lap over Courtney, Schatz, Gravel, Larson, and Macedo. However, Courntey assumed control on lap two. Schatz lost a couple of positions in the early going. He eventually slipped back to seventh while Courtney set a blistering pace.
On lap twelve, Larson sustained the first flat right rear of the event. A similar fate would befall others later in the event. Larson pitted for new rubber. While he was able to come back through the field, he was no longer a threat to win the event.
Courtney resumed the lead, with McCarl, Gravel, Macedo, Sweet, Schatz, Marks, Allen, Kofoid, Pittman, and Schuchart in tow. This green flag interlude was cut short when Scelzi crashed in between turns three and four before the field completed a lap.
As the field was coming around to complete the next official lap, Gravel slid by McCarl in turn four to take over second. Schatz moved past Sweet for fifth.
Sanders brought his car to a halt on the front stretch just a few laps later.
On the ensuing restart, Marks moved into the top five, but he was still a ways behind Courtney, Gravel, and McCarl. By lap twenty, Marks was up to third, but McCarl battled back for the position as the race neared the halfway mark.
After lap twenty-five was completed, race control called for the intermission. At that time. Courtney led Gravel, McCarl, Marks, Macedo, Schatz, Schuchart, Allen, Kofoid, and Sweet. Pittman was holding down eleventh, followed by Peck, Larson, Haudenschild, and McFadden. Reutzel, Abreu, Madsen, Phillips, and brown were the balance of the lead lap cars.
At the close of lap twenty-six, Gravel slid above the cushion, but he powered out of the fluff without losing a position. He came back again on lap twenty-seven to pass Courtney for the lead. Meanwhile, Marks got shuffled back out of the top five.
Now it was Gravel’s turn to stretch his legs. He led Courtney, McCarl, Schatz, Macedo, Schuchart, Allen, Marks and Kofoid. Larson was lurking in eleventh, followed by Pittman, and Peck. While Larson did not slow his pace, his car was starting to show some smoke on corner entry.
Schatz moved ahead of McCarl within a few laps. After losing the position, McCarl got a flat right rear. Just two laps later, McFadden brought his mount to a stop on the back stretch.
The final stoppage occurred two laps later when Macedo had a flat right rear as well. That moved Schuchart into fourth behind Gravel, Schatz, and Courtney. Marks was back to fifth, followed by Allen, Larsen, Sweet, Kofoid, and Haudenschild.
When racing resumed, with eleven to go, Allen moved by Marks and he briefly challenged Schuchart for fourth.
However, the strongest car in the stretch run belonged to Schatz. While Gravel rode the rim, Schatz whittled away at his lead by taking the shortest way around the track. Schatz continued to reel in Gravel and was within striking distance when the starter showed the field the five lap signal.
On lap fourty-six, Schatz made his move. He powered into turn three on the bottom and slid up into the middle of the track with the lead.
As Schatz began to pull away from Gravel, Schuchart took over third with two laps remaining, While he closed in on Gravel, there was not enough time for Schuchart to make a bid for second.
At the checkers, it was Schatz over Gravel, Schuchart, Courtney, and Allen. Larson was sixth, followed by Marks, Haudenschild, Sweet, and Pittman.
Gravel was disappointed with his second place finish. “We had a great car,” he said. “When you are leading with four to go, you expect to win.” But Gravel took personal responsibility for the outcome. “I was a little aggressive too early. . . . I was good on top and I didn’t want to chance it. The last couple of laps, the tires were spinning down the front stretch. I heard Donny going into three and I figured he was coming. In hindsight, I should have tried running low in one and two, but when you are leading and feeling pretty good, you don’t want to change it up. Maybe I should have gone down to search around. I’m not afraid to do it, but I didn’t tonight.”
Schuchart, who capped off a terrific week with a third, remarked “how can’t you be thrilled at what this team accomplished this week? Not just me, butthe 1a, too. I’m very proud of every person at Shark Racing, and it starts with what my grandfather started. We’re just a family-owned team competing for wins on the biggest stage in the world.” Schuchart explained that they made a few, small changes during the halftime break, such as a shock adjustment and removing some stagger. “I knew I could do something with the wing.” Plus, he was concerned about over correcting.
Macri Masters BAPS
NEWBERRYTOWN, PA (March 26, 2023): Anthony Macri scored his first victory of the 2023 campaign. During the second caution period on lap twenty-five, race officials decided to shorten the race due to the excessive tire wear observed on several of the few remaining participants. So the field went to a green-white-checker finish. Taking the honors in the companion 358 Sprint Car division was Derek Locke.
“I was more worried about running out of fuel than the tire,” Macri confided. He explained that his crew only added five gallons of fuel when they had the opportunity, and that the crew told him the tire was good enough to go the distance.
Her added, “I wanted to win fair and square, and when you knock laps off, it’s not fair.”
Macri made his winning move driving under Danny Dietrich in turns one and two on lap eighteen. “I knew the rubber was there, I just wanted to stay as straight as I could,” he explained. Once he was in the lead, Macri had to scale back his aggressiveness and concentrate on keeping the car straight to conserve the tires.
Danny Dietrich pulled the pole for the race that was originally set for thirty laps. Kyle Moody was on his flank. Macri and Billy Dietrich were right behind them. Freddie Rahmer, Jr. and Gerard McIntyre were in row three. Chad Trout and Bradley Howard were paired in row four. The fifth row consisted of Austin Bishop and Mark Smith. Tyler Ross and Lucas Wolfe were the unlucky ones in the re-draw for the first three finishers from each of the four heat races.
Double D and Moody traded sliders but their spectacular display went for naught, as Justin Peck stopped on the outside of turn four. On the second try, Danny Dietrich assumed commence and Moody was in no position to mount any counterattack. Following them were Macri, Billy Dietrich, McIntyre, Rahmer, Smith, Howard, Trout, and Bishop.
Danny Dietrich set a quick pace. Macri moved into second, but he was several car lengths in arrears. Moody held down third, with Billy Dietrich keeping Rahmer at bay. Macri moved to the outside and he began to whittle away at Dietrich’s lead as the leader had to navigate through some back markers.
Dietrich moved off the bottom to set up a lapped car for a pass to the outside. That left the inside line open for Macri who maneuvered past both cars in turns one and two.
Soon after Macri took over, a caution came out for Dylan Norris stopping outside turn two.
On the restart, Rahmer faltered and he lost several positions entering turn one. The field was thundering into the corner, and things got congested very quickly. A couple of cars went around, and Troy Wagaman, Jr. tipped over in the process. Other cars involved were Trout, Ross, and Michael Mallard.
During the red flag, Danny Dietrich headed pitside and did not return. That put Moody into second for the restart, with Billy Dietrich, Rahmer, Smith, Kyle Reinhardt, McIntyre, Howard, Bishop, and Devon Borden following.
Cautions on laps twenty-one and twenty-three, and two on lap twenty-five disrupted the flow. Officials declared a fuel stop on one of the lap twenty-five stoppages. During the second, they opted to shorten the race, as only ten cars remained on the track and several of them had visible signs of heavy tire wear.
There was one last caution on the white flag lap.
Macri completed the race, with Moody, Rahmer, Jeff Halligan, and Reinhardt making the top five. Borden, Wolfe, Norris, Tyler Esh, and Peck were scored in positions six through ten.
The four heat wins went to Bishop, Rahmer, Wolfe, and Moody. Wagaman was the B Main winner. Thirty-two 410 Sprints were registered, with ten using the new design Hoosier tires. The others remained on the older style rubber.
In the 358 Sprint nightcap, Derek Locke led wire to wire for his first tally of the season. Steve Owings made a bid for the lead with about five laps remaining, but Locke held him off. A single file restart with two to go ensured that Lock had a comfortable margin at the checkers.
Taking third was Kyle Spence, ahead of Chris Frank and Brett Strickler. Wyatt Hinkle, Kyle Keen, Cody Fletcher, and Doug Hammaker rounded out the top ten.
Heat winners were Frank, Hammaker (from tenth), and Owings. Kody Hartlaub took the B Main.
The next 410 Sprint Car show will be on April 16, with 602 Crate Sportsmen and Wingless Sportsmen providing support. Regular racing with the Winged Super Sportsmen as the headliners will be held on April 1, 8, and 15.
Dietz Does It
ABBOTTSTOWN, PA (March 25, 2023): Chase Dietz recovered from an inauspicious start to his night at the Lincoln Speedway by leading all thirty laps of the 410 Sprint Car A Main. The $4,000 victory was the first since he returned to his own equipment for the 2023 season. Also scoring was Tanner Jones in the debut for teh Central PA Legends Cars.
“I’m still pissed that I spun in hot laps,” Dietz said. He recovered nicely in his heat race, though, winning in dominant fashion. In the feature event, he weathered six tries to get the race going. Although he was credited with leading the entire distance, Dietz benefited from a caution on lap eight, when he lost the lead briefly to Zane Rudisill in traffic. Rudisill could not get back around to the scoring loop before the caution was displayed, so Dietz was restored to the point for the restart.
Dietz was able to retain his advantage throughout the remainder of the race despite losing his brakes. “It was a long race in general,” he noted. “I lost my brakes, I was trying not to use them in traffic, I was just holding on.” He added that he tried to stay on the bottom, but he admitted to making some mistakes along the way.
Dietz was handicapped to the pole for teh start of the event, with Rudisill next to him. Cole Young and Lucas Wolfe were in row two. The third row belonged to Aaron Bollinger and Tyler Ross. Then came Tim Wagaman and Kyle Moody. The fifth row paired Dylan Norris and Justin Peck. Devon Borden and Cameron Smith were slated for row six. High point men Danny Dietrich and Freddie Rahmer, Jr. were buried deep in the pack after lackluster heat race finishes.
Four cautions, two reds, and a fuel stop delayed the start of the thirty lapper. No racers were injured in the incidents, which included solo flips by Bollinger and Young. Eight cars were eliminated from the action before a single lap was scored, though. Track officials opted for a single file start, which worked like a charm.
Dietz took the early advantage, but Rudisill remained close. Wolfe settled into third, followed by Ross, Moody, Peck, Norris, Smith, Anthony Macri, and Brandon Rahmer. Dietz and Rudisill drew away from Wolfe, who was hounded by Ross and Peck through the first segment of the race.
The caution on lap eight put Dietz back in the lead, which he resumed under green flag conditions. Surprisingly, the green remained out for the rest of the race.
At the halfway mark, Dietz and Rudisill again had a substantial lead over Wolfe. Peck was up to fourth, followed by Ross, Norris, Moody, Smith, Macri, and Brandon Rahmer.
Peck went to work on Wolfe, and he finally took over third with twenty-four laps down. Macri surrendered his top ten spot during that stint.
The final laps were uneventful for those in the top positions. Matt Campbell made some headway, though, racing into the back half of the top ten before the checkers came out.
Following Dietz and Rudisill was a fast closing Peck. Then came Wolfe and Ross to complete the top five. Norris, Moody, Smith, Campbell, and Brandon Rahmer rounded out the top ten.
Heat wins were scored by Rudisill, Dietz, and Wolfe. There was no B Main, as all twenty-five entrants started the race.
Tanner Jones came from seventh to earn the win in the nightcap for the Central PA Legends. Seth Kearchner, Stephen Wurtzer, Lincoln Kearchner, and Travis Perry completed the top five.
The next five finishers were Chris Transeau, Rick Hartwig, Colton Fries, Jeremy Ott, and Justin Wagaman. Fries was the hard charger, passing seventeen cars in the contest.
Jones, Wurtzer, Transeau, and Logan Carbaugh triumphed in the heats, The B Main went to Bill Diehl.
Next weekend, on April 1, Lincoln Speedway will present its first Sprint Car double header of the season. The 358 Sprints will make their first start of the year, while the 410 Sprints will take the sixth green flag of the season. The same program will be presented on April 8 and 15. April 22 will have the Central PA Legends Cars back on the card with the 410 Sprints. The month of April will close out with 410 and 358 Sprints joined by the Penn-Mar Vintage Modifieds.
Rico Races to Outlaws Win
ABBOTTSTOWN, PA (March 18, 2023): Rico Abreu made his 2023 Sprint Car debut a triumphant one, scoring his second career win at the Fabulous Lincoln Speedway. This one was especially memorable for the diminutive California hotshoe, as it came against the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series.
“I have never been in Pennsylvania in March, he noted. He added that he was worried about the weather, as he observed snow along the side of the road coming across the Pennsylvania Turnpike. But his crew chief, Ricky Warner, cut his teeth in the midstate area before going on to great success for many years with the touring series.
Abreu was thankful for the efforts of Warner and the rest of his crew. “I’ really thankful, thankful for my guys. They worked so hard on this thing.” Abreu went on to explain that Warner was able to adapt to the new Hoosier tires which were rolled out for this event. “New tires. I didn’t know that until we rolled through the gate tonight.” Abreu added that he was patient, knowing that Warner would have his car set up for the end of the race, after the fuel load burned off.
Still, Abreu had a close call during the race. Freddy Rahmer, Jr. was challenging Brad Sweet for the lead with eight laps down. The two made contact and Rahmer spun between turns one and two. Abreu, who was running in fourth at the time, clipped Rahmer as he went by. “I thought that my tire was going down, or that I knocked the (Jacobs) ladder out of it,” he commented. But whatever damage there was to Abreu’s car was minor, for his car got better as the race went on.
By winning the dash, four time and defending Outlaws champion Brad Sweet had the pole and two-time Lincoln winner Freddie Rahmer, Jr. was beside him. Abreu and Devon Borden lined up in row two. Logan Schuchart and David Gravel lined up in the third row. Danny Dietrich and Spencer Bayston were the final dash participants, starting in row four. Then came Carson Macedo and Buddy Kofoid, followed by Matt Campbell and Justin Peck.
Sweet powered off turn four with a slight advantage over Rahmer heading to the green flag. Abreu fell into third ahead of Borden, Gravel, Bayston, Schuchart, Dietrich, Macedo, and Kofoid. Things stayed the same through the early laps, with the exception of Peck slipping ahead of Kofoid for the tenth position.
Sweet caught the rear of the field by lap seven. While he dealt with the slower cars, Rahmer closed in. Rahmer was ready to make a move to the front when misfortune struck. Not only did the spin take him out of contention, but his crew was unable to make repairs to get him back into the fray.
Rahmer’s miscue benefited Borden, who had moved ahead of Abreu just before the caution. Borden took up the chase of Sweet, but he was unable to make any headway. Gravel was now up to third, while Abreu raced along ahead of Schuchart and Dietrich.
Another brief caution, on lap twelve, for a spin by Dylan Norris gave Borden another shot at the leader. This time, he stayed closer to Sweet. Abreu moved back into third, and Macedo picked his way into the top five.
The green flag remained out for the next twenty-three laps. About halfway through that long run, Borden made his move. He did briefly nose ahead of Sweet in between turns one and two, but he could not hold the position. Sweet scooted back into the lead, and Abreu moved into second.
Sweet moved up the track, leaving the inside line open for Abreu. On lap twenty-three, Abreu went low into turn one, pulling up beside Sweet. They raced wheel to wheel through turn two. Abreu got a slight advantage coming off that corner and he pulled ahead as they raced toward turn three. Abreu pulled away coming off turn four.
Sweet held onto second the rest of the way. Borden maintained third. Macedo crossed in fourth, good enough to take the bonus money offered for a handful of early season races scheduled for Florida and Pennsylvania. Fifth went to Peck. Dietrich, Schuchart, Giovanni Scelzi, Brent Marks, and Gravel rounded out the top ten.
Heat wins went to Gravel, Dietrich, Rahmer, and Sweet. Troy Wagaman, Jr, captured the C Main, and Scelzi won the B. Provisional starting spots were granted to James McFadden, Sheldo.n Haudenschild, Kyle Moody, Donny Schatz, Casey Kahne, and Brock Zearfoss. Ryan Timms was unhurt in the only flip of the night
Lincoln Speedway will be back in action next Saturday, March with 410 Sprints and Central PA Legends, with a 6 p.m. start. Sprint Car doubleheaders, 410 and 358 style, will be held on April 1, 8, and 15, also with 6 p.m. starts.