BACON AND SCHATZ EARN FRIDAY NIGHT ELDORA VICTORIES
WORLD OF OUTLAWS STORY (COURTESY WoO PR)
ROSSBURG, OH – May 11, 2018 – Donny Schatz inherited the lead on Lap 14 and held off a late race charge from Logan Schuchart to claim the victory on the opening night of the Let’s Race Two weekend at Eldora Speedway. It was Schatz’ 7th win of the 2018, extending his point lead atop the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series Point Standings. Schuchart finished second with Brad Sweet finishing third.
Ohio native Cole Duncan set fast time over the 37-car field, won his heat race and was victorious in the Sears Craftsman Dash to earn the pole for the 30-lap Feature. Duncan, in search of his first career World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series victory, shared the front row with legend and fellow Buckeye Jac Haudenschild, who was seeking his 74th career Outlaw victory.
It was Haudenschild getting the jump at the tip of the Green and leading the opening circuit. Third-starting Donny Schatz swooped underneath Duncan to take second the following lap. Haudenschild, or more often referred to as ‘The Wild Child’, lived up to his nickname every bit as he flirted with the dangerous cushion and was up against the wall fending off Schatz narrowly at the line for the first five laps in exciting fashion.
A Lap 6 caution for Hunter Schuerenberg halted the action and bunched the field together. On the restart, Schatz, on the bottom, remained right with Haudenschild, but this time sixth-starting Aaron Reutzel was right in tow. The trio sliced and diced their way as they battled for the lead, utilizing every inch of the Eldora Speedway racing surface.
On Lap 11, Reutzel made an eye-catching move going around the nine-time Series Champion before going wheel-to-wheel with Haudenschild and pulling even with The Wild Child on the front stretch, trailing him by .005 at the conclusion of the 11th circuit. Reutzel would take command of the field on Lap 12.
Schatz continued to jockey with Haudenschild, which allowed Reutzel, who scored his first career Outlaw win earlier this season at Tulare, to put a couple car-lengths between himself and Schatz and Haudenschild. Schatz finally wrestled the runner-up spot away from Haudenschild on Lap 13 and set his eyes on the Texas native for the lead on what promised to be a great battle.
Disaster struck for Reutzel on Lap 14, as he bobbled just enough on the thin Eldora Speedway cushion to lose the handle on his No.87, before making heavy contact with the outside retaining wall, ending his night. Schatz and Haudenschild both showed their veteran prowess avoiding Reutzel’s ailing machine as it bounced back into the racing line. Reutzel was uninjured in the accident and expressed his apologies to his race team stating the dangerous Eldora cushion got the better of him tonight.
One lap later, David Gravel was left nowhere to go and spun in turn two, creating a logjam that included Carson Macedo, Rico Abreu and Joey Saldana. Gravel and Abreu were able to make repairs, but Macedo and Saldana’s nights both came to an end.
The action remained intense on the restart as cars scattered around the Eldora racing surface. Brad Sweet had an excellent restart and moved into the runner-up position and nearly completed a slider on Schatz for the lead, to no avail as the Fargo, ND native powered around Sweet on the cushion.
Eighth-starting Logan Schuchart began making the bottom work and took the runner-up spot away from Sweet with eight laps remaining. Schuchart closed in on Schatz, who made a daring move splitting lapped cars, to extend the lead once again just as Schuchart was preparing to bid for the lead. Schuchart, who won during last year’s Let’s Race Two event at Eldora, closed in one last time with two laps remaining, but Schatz was too strong and took the checkered flag 1.041 seconds in front of the Hanover, PA native with Sweet completing the podium.
“I had a good car, we played around a little and tried something different, but this team just continues to work. We probably weren’t the best car tonight, but we are here standing with the checkered flag,” Schatz said in Victory Lane. When asked about Reutzel’s move for the lead and crash, Schatz said, “He was really fast, but he wore it out. That’s the big part of racing with the World of Outlaws. You’ve got to finish races to win the Championship and sometimes you can’t go as hard to make sure you finish these races.
Schatz also praised the Eldora Speedway track crew, “Everyone has a different perspective of what is a good race or not. There were multiple grooves and guys were making moves all over the place and that’s really all you can ask for.”
Jac Haudenschild settled for fourth with Duncan completing the top five. Gary Taylor, who was as high as second at one point, faded late to sixth. Sheldon Haudenschild came forward to seventh with 14th-starting Jason Johnson, 26th-starting Daryn Pittman and Kerry Madsen completing the top ten. Pittman’s effort was good enough to earn KSE Hard Charger honors, advancing 17 positions. Brady Bacon was the lone driver to compete in both portions of the Let’s Race Two. Bacon was victorious with USAC by nearly five seconds and finished 16th with the wing on in the Feature.
USAC STORY (COURTESY USAC PR)
Rossburg, Ohio………Brady Bacon is a renaissance man of sorts.* Wing or wingless, running the top or the bottom, the Broken Arrow, Okla. native seems to adapt to a multitude of situations on any given racetrack.
Under the Friday night lights of Eldora Speedway’s #LetsRaceTwo, Bacon was thrust into performing all those roles within a single performance as the lone wheelman pulling double-duty with both the USAC AMSOIL National and World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Cars.
Bacon was exemplary on both ends of the spectrum, conquering his second career USAC Sprint Car victory on the high banks, doing so by riding his way to victory on the wave of the expected and the unexpected.
Wheels right up against the concrete – that’s the expected line at Eldora that involves putting the right rear rubber smack dab up against the outer wall.* Then there’s the not-so-expected hide-and-seek line in which the left side wheels are within earshot of the inside walls in the corners before the car emerges from the bottom having gained substantial ground.
Bacon did it all in one night and even translated what he learned from one car to the other to get a feel for the track and find a comfort zone for himself.
“The B-Feature (in the wing car) really helped me,” Bacon admitted. *“I ran the top pretty much wide open. *It’s not as fast in a non-wing car, but you have a lot less control too. *If the wing cars are on the cushion, then the non-wing cars are definitely going to be up there. *It was an old-school Eldora tonight. *I did kind of make the bottom off (turn) four work a little bit, which is a little uncharacteristic for here, but it’s been working for us the last couple times.”
Yet, Bacon would have his work cut out for him.* He had to start eighth in the field, trailing a lineup that held a collective eight career USAC National Sprint Car victories at “The Big E” coming into the night’s 30-lap main event, five of which belonged to Robert Ballou, who slid up to the lead past Chris Windom from the pole position to hold the early lead.
As the front runners ringed their way around the top, Bacon inch-wormed his way forward on the bottom and, by halfway, was erasing Ballou’s once-happening lead.* Bacon hit the top-shelf with authority between turns one and two and tickled the twines of the bottom line in three and four.* Although, at times, lapped traffic would stifle Bacon’s baseline shuffle, it would not deter him for long.
On the 19th lap, Bacon took the initiative and went on the attack, using a big run to split between Ballou on the high side and the lapped car of Chad Boespflug on the inside.* Like a motorist gracefully avoiding a rush hour headache by hitting the exit ramp just prior to traffic backing up to a standstill, Bacon found the open road, put the top down, mashed the throttle and checked out.
“It was getting trickier to hit the bottom, but I just kept it in my back pocket,” Bacon explained. *“I knew it was so treacherous up top and easy to lose your momentum. *There really wasn’t much grip to gain your speed back. *I just knew if he got slowed up or started making mistakes, I could probably get underneath him on the bottom. *We still got trapped under some lapped cars, but we were able to clear them before he did. *I was a little worried he was going to come back around us, but once we got out there, I tried not to make any mistakes. *I knew it was going to be hard for anyone to pass me.”
From there, Bacon gradually constructed what would become an insurmountable advantage in the caution-free event, which eventually ballooned to a full-straightaway by race’s end, defeating Ballou by a margin of 5.733 seconds.* Windom was third ahead of Justin Grant and Kevin Thomas, Jr.
A full slate of non-stop competition that included jumping back-and-forth, to-and-fro from the USAC car to the WoO car was not an issue for the two-time USAC National Sprint Car champ on this night. *Neither was a caution-free affair that was completed at a clip of less than nine-and-a-half minutes, something that is not as physical to Bacon as it may seem to the outsiders.
“This place is more mental than physical,” Bacon contends. *“You can get mentally worn out. *That happens more to me after the ‘4-Crown.’ *I just kind of zone out after it’s over. *As long as you’re breathing and doing everything right, it’s not that tiring. *It’s definitely a lot easier when things are going your way.”
After a rough start to the season that included exiting the Dooling-Hayward Motorsports/Richard Childress Racing ride following a tumultuous term at Ocala, Fla. in February, Bacon brought his own team to the forefront to compete on the USAC trail.* It’s something that has been a challenge to get back up and going, but now Bacon is beginning to reap those rewards.
“We’ve come a long way,” Bacon reflects. *“I knew we had all the ingredients to win. *We just had to figure out how to put them all together. *It’s been a few years since I’ve run this package.* We’ve kind of been looking back; we called the Hoffmans a couple times and brought out the notebook to figure out where we were. *Things have changed a lot in a couple years; it’s constantly evolving. *The shocks are getting better and what we used to do doesn’t really work anymore. *We’re trying to find the balance to be fast at the beginning and at the end of the night. *This place caters to me or the more experienced drivers. *It’s good to get a win close to where I live. *Lots of friends are here watching and, obviously, this is a prestigious place.”
Contingency award winners Friday night at Eldora Speedway included Dave Darland (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner & Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier), Justin Grant (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Brady Bacon (Chalk Stix/Indy Race Parts Third Heat Winner & KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Dallas Hewitt (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).