Logan Schuchart takes a bite out of Donny Schatz’ seeming-shoo in with a victory on Sunday night.
The Volusia Speedway Park is known for the Gator Pond in the pit area. However, during Sprint Car Week of the 50th annual DIRTcar Nationals, there was a shark sighting, grabbing hold of a big gator…namely, Shark Racing’s Logan Schuchart.
Schuchart took home the win in the 30-lap finale on Sunday evening, and in doing so, captured the Big Gator Championship for the Sprint Cars during the week-long event.
The man who looked to be on his way to the big $10,000 top prize was Tony Stewart Racing’s Donny Schatz. However, with just two laps remaining, trouble struck. Ignition woes foiled the ten-time World of Outlaws Champion’s bid at the win and handed the lead to Schuchart.
From there, the Hanover, PA driver went on to take the win, and the title. The move of the race that put him in position for the win came with five laps remaining. That’s when Schuchart finally cleared the 26 of Cory Eliason for second after a race-long battle.
“It took me forever to get by Cory after that long green flag run,” Schuchart said. “I glanced forward to look for Donny once I got to second and I couldn’t see him. He was really fast, but I still felt like we had a car to beat there at the end.”
Schuchart felt that if a little bit of luck was on his side, he had a shot to take down the TSR driver.
“I think we may have had something for him, especially if we could’ve got some traffic,” he said. “It’s not something you want to see happen. You want to win the right away, but it’s also part of the game.”
The Shark Racing driver was quick to point out what has made Schatz so dominant for several seasons, “For years, they’ve set the bar as far as handling issues, limiting DNF’s, and stuff that saves you championships,” he said. “It’s something we all strive for nowadays because of them.”
For Schatz, victory slipped from his reach but those are the breaks sometimes in Sprint Car racing.
“It was just a defective ignition box,” Schatz said. “That thing was brand new on this engine tonight. I actually thought we cut a fuel line for a minute. I was getting wet but it was the MSD. It is what it is.”
Behind Schuchart was Pennsylvania Posse standout Danny Dietrich, who came home with a solid second place finish. Cory Eliason completing the podium. David Gravel and defending World of Outlaws Sprint Car Champion Brad Sweet completed the top five.
Brad Sweet Nails Down WoO Sprint ’21 Opener
Sweet came home with the win in the opening round of the World of Outlaws season on Friday night at Volusia.
He took the lead from outside front row starter Jacob Allen on lap nine and, from there, his Kasey Kahne Racing no. 49 never looked back, taking home the $10,000 win.
“We’re going to have a heck of a battle between three, four, maybe even five of us this year,” Sweet said after the race. “Logan (Schuchart) is putting pressure on us. Donny (Schatz) is putting pressure on us and those other guys are just as good too.”
Even though it was the season’s lid-lifter, Sweet knew he had to be elbows up all race long.
“It’s only night one, but I feel like I had to drive my ass off to get this win,” he said. “I think as long as we stay focused, we should have a lot of confidence moving forward. We’re obviously excited to start the season with a win, but we know this one doesn’t mean a whole lot. We’ve still got 90 some other races to go.”
Schuchart came home in the runner-up position but the car everyone was watching was that of Donny Schatz. Schatz had a tough night in qualifying and had to start deep on the grid in 18th. At some points, the Fargo, ND driver was picking off two cars per corner as he charged to the front.
In the end, Schatz came home with a hard-fought third place finish.
“We were decent tonight but qualifying hurt,” Schatz said. “The guys weren’t happy. I wasn’t happy, but all you can do is rally back.”
Schatz was quick to give credit for how well his car handled to his Tony Stewart Racing team/
“They made the car better and I felt like we had a chance there at the end,” he said. “I zigged when I probably should’ve zagged in lap traffic, but that’s the way it goes somedays.”
David Gravel and Carson Macedo completed the top five.
Saturday evening’s racing action at the Barberville, FL track was cancelled due to rain.
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series will resume their 90+ race championship chase this coming weekend when the Dirty South Swing kicks off. Things get into motion on Friday, February 12th at Georgia’s Dixie Speedway and then roll through Alabama’s Talladega Short Track on Saturday, February 13th.
Friday Night’s Volusia Speedway Park Feature (30 Laps): 1. 49-Brad Sweet [$10,000]; 2. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$6,000]; 3. 15-Donny Schatz [$3,500]; 4. 2-David Gravel [$2,800]; 5. 41-Carson Macedo [$2,500]; 6. 83-Aaron Reutzel [$2,300]; 7. 1A-Jacob Allen [$2,200]; 8. 5-Brent Marks [$2,100]; 9. 9-Kasey Kahne [$2,050]; 10. 12N-Joey Saldana [$2,000]; 11. 26-Cory Eliason [$1,600]; 12. 13-Justin Peck [$1,400]; 13. 15H-Sam Hafertepe [$1,200]; 14. 7BC-Tyler Courtney [$1,100]; 15. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$1,050]; 16. 18-Gio Scelzi [$1,000]; 17. 48-Danny Dietrich [$1,000]; 18. 11K-Kraig Kinser [$]; 19. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [$1,000]; 20. 7S-Jason Sides [$1,000]; 21. 19-Parker Price-Miller [$1,000]; 22. 33M-Mason Daniel [$1,000]; 23. 3C-Cale Conley [$1,000]; 24. 2C-Wayne Johnson [$]; 25. 55-Hunter Schuerenberg [$1,000]; 26. 27C-Craig Pellegrini [$1,000].
Lap Leaders: Jacob Allen 1-8, Brad Sweet 9-30.
KSE Hard Charger Award: 15-Donny Schatz [+15]
Saturday Night: Rained Out
Sunday Night’s Volusia Speedway Park Feature (30 Laps): 1. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$10,000]; 2. 48-Danny Dietrich [$6,000]; 3. 26-Cory Eliason [$3,500]; 4. 2-David Gravel [$2,800]; 5. 49-Brad Sweet [$2,500]; 6. 41-Carson Macedo [$2,300]; 7. 101-Kerry Madsen [$2,200]; 8. 1A-Jacob Allen [$2,100]; 9. 7BC-Tyler Courtney [$2,050]; 10. 83-Aaron Reutzel [$1,000]; 11. 15H-Sam Hafertepe [$1,600]; 12. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$1,400]; 13. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [$1,200]; 14. 7S-Jason Sides [$1,100]; 15. 15-Donny Schatz [$1,050]; 16. 5-Brent Marks [$1,000]; 17. 13-Justin Peck [$1,000]; 18. 2C-Wayne Johnson [$1,000]; 19. 11K-Kraig Kinser [$1,000]; 20. 21-Brian Brown [$1,000]; 21. 19-Parker Price-Miller [$1,000]; 22. 9-Kasey Kahne [$1,000]; 23. 18-Gio Scelzi [$1,000]; 24. 33M-Mason Daniel [$]; 25. 12N-Joey Saldana [$1,000]; 26. 72-Tim Shaffer [$1,000].
Lap Leaders: Donny Schatz 1-28, Logan Schuchart 29-30.
KSE Hard Charger Award: 83-Aaron Reutzel[+15].