ELDORA SPEEDWAY CROWNS KING DONNY XXXIII AT KINGS ROYAL
Schatz scores his third Kings Royal title and 15th World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series victory of the year
(Courtesy DIRTcar PR)
ROSSBURG, Ohio — July 16, 2016 — It has been nearly a decade, but Donny Schatz looked like a natural as he was crowned King Donny XXXIII – his third Kings Royal title since 2007 – on Saturday night at Eldora Speedway.
Schatz who drew number 15 in the qualifying pill draw and was looking to get his 15th World of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series victory of the season had the luck on his side, he just needed the hard work to push him through – and that’s exactly what he and his team did.
“This is unbelievable,” Schatz said. “It’s been a challenge here all weekend and it’s one of them places, we felt like we’ve been good at the Royal and we’ve maybe just done the wrong things. But not tonight. We were awesome all night. These guys got the car qualified well, got through the Heat, the car was awesome in the Heat races. It’s such a blast.”
The $50,000 win comes as Schatz and his No. 15 Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance team finds its stride and rolls through the critical ‘Month of Money.’ Since June 1, Schatz has racked up eight series wins and built up a 186 point lead in the championship standings over second place Brad Sweet.
Schatz, who finished both the Jokers Wild and Knight Before the Kings Royal at Eldora in second, credited his Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing team for helping put him in position.
“I know I get to stand here but this race team is what wins these races,” Schatz said. “These guys are incredible in what they do. You can’t say enough about them. They are the ones that need to be wearing this uniform. They are the ones responsible for making that racecar.”
Kerry Madsen kicked off the night with the qualifying quick time but under the special Kings Royal format, it was the Heat races that were critical for the night. With a five car inversion, Schatz, who qualified fourth, was in the middle of the pack of his Heat race but battled forward to take the win.
On the initial start of the 40-lap feature, it was second-place starter Brian Brown who jumped out to the early lead. Brown though had his hands full immediately with three-time Kings Royal champion Sammy Swindell. Swindell battled Brown with intense pressure through the first eight laps and then found a line around on lap nine.
Swindell’s lead was short-lived though as a hard-charging Brad Sweet battled past Brown for third and then set his sights on Swindell. As the two drivers worked to complete lap 12, Sweet cleared the No. 1 Big Game Treestands car off of turn four.
But like the leader before, Sweet shortly had company with Schatz and Christopher Bell.
“We were a little too good, too early,” Sweet said. “I was smiling in the first 20 laps when we drove to the lead there. But I know how long this race is and I didn’t get through lapped cars there in the beginning. Slipped my tires a few times and Donny and (Christopher Bell) got by me. Once they had the position on me, I thought they were a little bit better at the end.”
With Schatz around on lap 20, Bell tried to make a move but, while driving second, got into the turn four wall, briefly climbed it and caught the fence before settling on track. A red flag later, Bell’s night was done.
On the restart, it was Rico Abreu on the move in his No. 24 Abreu Vineyards car. He threw the slider on Schatz into turns one and two but Schatz held him off. Through the closing laps, Abreu shortened the distance to Schatz and with just two laps remaining, he made a last ditch effort to get around the No. 15, pulling even with Schatz off of turn four, but Schatz pulled away, scoring his 15th victory of the season.
“I figured (Rico) had to be close,” Schatz said. “(Kerry Madsen) was on the top and someone else was on the bottom and I tried to float through the middle there of one and two but I just couldn’t keep the tires underneath me like I knew I could, so I knew someone was coming. Rico is a hell of a racer, he’s going to give it his all, all of the time. I knew I was going to have to do what I could. I knew I missed the corner and that probably gave him a real good shot to get close but standing here, we’re going to enjoy the hell of out of this.”
Abreu, who finished behind Schatz in third the two previous nights at Eldora, said he has to get smarter at the end of the races to make sure he is in contention.
“We’ve been right there putting ourselves in position, it’s just baby steps that separate the men from the boys in winning these races,” Abreu said. “Paul Silva, Trevor, Matt, Bubba, they all do a great job preparing this race car and it builds a lot of confidence in the last few weeks, how competitive we’ve been.
“Donny’s right there, he’s the guy to beat every night. It makes you race a lot harder, it makes you think a lot smarter. Getting around him, watching him race. That’s why he’s on the podium.”
For Sweet, his finish was a good step forward after he and his No. 49 Ollie’s Bargain Outlet team struggled in the opening nights at Eldora. He said, ultimately, he was too good, too early in the night’s feature event.
“I was smiling in the first 20 laps when we drove to the lead there,” Sweet said. “But I know how long this race is and I didn’t get through lapped cars there in the beginning. Slipped my tires a few times and Donny and Bell got by me. Once they had the position on me, I thought they were a little bit better at the end. The way the weekend went, it’s nice to be up here on the podium and actually contending for the Kings Royal.”
Eldora’s blockbuster summer schedule continues when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series makes its annual visit for the Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby on Tuesday and Wednesday (July 19-20). Tickets and information are available at Eldora Speedway.com.
About Eldora Speedway:
Since being carved from a cornfield in the natural amphitheater that existed between the Eldora Ballroom and the Wabash River by bandleader Earl Baltes in 1954, Eldora Speedway has grown to be a frontrunner in motorsports growth and stability. Baltes chose to sell the legendary, high-banked clay oval in 2004 to motorsports entrepreneur and NASCAR, INDYCAR and USAC champion Tony Stewart. Celebrating its 63rd season in 2016, Eldora hosts the biggest events in short-track racing, including the 22nd annual Dirt Late Model Dream by Ferris Mowers, the 33rd annual Kings Royal weekend, the fourth annual Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby and the 46th annual World 100. The complete schedule for Eldora’s 63rd consecutive season, including ticket and campsite information, is available at www.EldoraSpeedway.com and can be requested by phone at (937) 338-3815. Fans can get behind-the-scenes access of Eldora Speedway by following @EldoraSpeedway on Twitter, hitting “Like” at www.Facebook.com/EldoraSpeedway and on www.YouTube.com/EldoraSpeedwayInc.