Donny Schatz fell out of the top five on the initial start of the FVP Outlaw Showdown presented by Dollar Loan Center on Friday night at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas, but he battled his way back to the front and took the lead with four laps remaining to score his second World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series victory of the season.
The seven-time and reigning series champion improved on his finish of seventh on opening night of the double-header at Las Vegas.
"This race team needs to be standing here taking the credit for this win, they are incredible," the Fargo, N.D., native said. "I know I am probably the hardest guy in the pit area to work for. They demand a lot out of me, and I try to give them my best."
Thursday night's winner Joey Saldana wheeled his Roth Enterprises/HR Livestock No. 83 to the night's overall quick time after he was the first car to hit the track in qualifying and held on while the rest of the 36-car field took times.
Saldana cruised to a victory in his heat, putting him at the front of the field for before the dash inversion draw.
Following an inversion draw of six, Rico Abreu started from the pole-position in his Abreu Vineyards/Alpine Star No. 24R for the six lap dash. Abreu lost the lead as soon as the green flag fell to Brad Sweet, who started in the third position.
Sweet dominated the dash feature, placing him at the front of the field for the 30-lap feature in his Razorback Professional Tools/Reibes Auto Parts No. 49 with Schatz and Saldana starting inside the top three.
Once the green flag dropped, third place starter Saldana rocketed to the lead as Sweet settled into second, and Schatz's Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance No. 15 slipped back to sixth.
Saldana controlled the opening eight laps, but never quite escaped from Sweet, who completed a pass for the lead on lap nine.
Sweet pulled away from the field and seemed to have the car to beat early in the feature, but Schatz continued to make progress back to the front of the field, getting to the fourth position when a caution came out on lap 10.
On the ensuing restart, Schatz made the move of the race as he shot around third-place Brian Brown and made his way to the inside of second-place Saldana. A few laps later, Schatz had completed the pass on Saldana for second and had his sights set on the leader.
With 10 laps remaining, the leaders encountered heavy lapped traffic, resulting in leader Sweet changing his line to navigate the gaggle of cars. This allowed Schatz and Saldana to close in on the bumper of the leader, cutting his lead down to just a second-and-a-half.
Schatz wasted no time in challenging Sweet for the top spot. Sweet had to slow and change his line as he approached slower cars, allowing Schatz to complete the pass for the lead and opening the door for Saldana to slide by for second with just four laps left.
"You race the same way whether you're in traffic or out of traffic, you just try to keep your car underneath you," Schatz said. "There were two grooves out there - the race track was pretty good. The bottom got a little tricky, and my car wasn't very good at the beginning, but we expected that and we sacrificed a little at the start to be better at the end."
With just two laps remaining, a caution came out, setting the race up for a green-white checkered finish between three of four winners in 2016.
On the restart, Sweet tried to slide his way around Schatz and Saldana to steal the win, but came up just short and fell back to the third position.
Schatz held off Saldana through the final two-lap shootout as Saldana finished the double-header at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a first- and a second-place finish.
"We did everything right tonight," Saldana said. "Everything was going good and there was a point where I thought I might have a shot, and then it went away because these guys are so tough and so good and they don't make a lot of mistakes.
"I didn't want the yellow at the end of the race. I had a little harder tire on tonight, and it took me longer to get going. Before we got to the lapped traffic, (Schatz) was running the middle and the bottom and I was running him back down, but once we got to the traffic, he moved up."
After leading the majority of the race, Sweet settled for a third-place finish, extending the Kasey Kahne Racing with Mike Curb podium streak.
"We got the lead and had a really good car," Sweet said. "We just made too many mistakes, and you can't do that with Donny breathing down your throat, then Joey got by me, too. There were just too many driver errors.
"It's still early in the year, and the Razorback car is fast every time it hits the racetrack, so there's nothing to really hang my head about. I have to get a little better in lap traffic if I want to run with Donny."
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series heads south to Phoenix for the first time since 2009 for the inaugural Napa Desert Shootout at Arizona Speedway in Queen Creek on Sunday.
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The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Notebook
RACE NOTES: Donny Schatz becomes only the second repeat winner of 2016…Kasey Kahne Racing extends its podium streak to one car inside the top three in all seven events…Jason Johnson picks up his second KSE Hard Charger Award of the season… Joey Saldana became the fifth different driver to pick up a quick time award so far this season.
CONTINGENCY WINNERS - MSD Ignitions ($25 cash): Donny Schatz; MSD Ignitions ($50 cash): Donny Schatz; Penske Shocks ($50 cash): Paul McMahan; Mobil 1 ($50 cash): Jason Sides; JE Pistons ($50 cash): Shane Stewart; VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash): Jason Johnson; Edelbrock ($50 cash): Jason Johnson; Comp Cams ($50 cash): Jason Johnson; Cometic Gasket ($50 cash): Kerry Madsen; Super Flow ($50 cash): Paul McMahan; Craftsman ($100 cash): Rico Abreu;Sweet Manufacturing ($50 product certificate): Brad Sweet; KSE Racing Products ($100 product certificate): Jason Johnson;Comp Cams ($50 product certificate): Donny Schatz; Mobil 1 (20% off Mobil1RacingStore.com): David Gravel; JE Pistons (Set of Rings): Jason Sides; JE Pistons (Set of Rings): David Gravel.
World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Statistical Report; The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Las Vegas; March 4, 2016
A-Main - (30 Laps) - 1. 15-Donny Schatz  [$10,000]; 2. 83-Joey Saldana  [$5,000]; 3. 49-Brad Sweet  [$3,000]; 4. 21-Brian Brown  [$2,700]; 5. 2-Shane Stewart  [$2,500]; 6. 24R-Rico Abreu  [$2,200]; 7. 9-Daryn Pittman  [$2,000]; 8. 18-Ian Madsen  [$1,800]; 9. 17W-Bryan Clauson  [$1,600]; 10. 41-Jason Johnson  [$1,450]; 11. 1-Sammy Swindell  [$1,300]; 12. 29-Kerry Madsen  [$1,200]; 13. 82-Dusty Zomer  [$1,100]; 14. 55L-Aaron Reutzel  [$1,000]; 15. 7-Paul McMahan  [$950]; 16. 7S-Jason Sides  [$900]; 17. 1S-Logan Schuchart  [$850]; 18. 24-Terry McCarl  [$750]; 19. 2L-Danny Lasoski  [$725]; 20. 73-Brady Bacon  [$700]; 21. 5-David Gravel  [$700]; 22. 18S-Jason Solwold  [$700]; 23. 55-Trey Starks  [$700]; 24. 11K-Kraig Kinser  [$700]. Lap Leaders: Joey Saldana 1-8, Brad Sweet 9-25, Donny Schatz 26-30. KSE Hard Charger Award: 41-Jason Johnson [+9]
Qualifying - 1. 83-Joey Saldana, 14.437; 2. 2L-Danny Lasoski, 14.562; 3. 21-Brian Brown, 14.665; 4. 17W-Bryan Clauson, 14.672; 5. 29-Kerry Madsen, 14.677; 6. 5-David Gravel, 14.679; 7. 18-Ian Madsen, 14.689; 8. 49-Brad Sweet, 14.732; 9. 1-Sammy Swindell, 14.786; 10. 24R-Rico Abreu, 14.804; 11. 24-Terry McCarl, 14.915; 12. 82-Dusty Zomer, 14.922; 13. 7S-Jason Sides, 14.938; 14. 9-Daryn Pittman, 14.950; 15. 44W-Austen Wheatley, 14.953; 16. 55-Trey Starks, 14.978; 17. 18S-Jason Solwold, 14.980; 18. 15-Donny Schatz, 14.999; 19. 73-Brady Bacon, 15.031; 20. 7-Paul McMahan, 15.052; 21. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 15.073; 22. 55L-Aaron Reutzel, 15.079; 23. 41-Jason Johnson, 15.101; 24. 2-Shane Stewart, 15.105; 25. 1A-Jacob Allen, 15.111; 26. W20-Greg Wilson, 15.157; 27. 88N-DJ Netto, 15.192; 28. 13-Mark Dobmeier, 15.234; 29. 41X-Dominic Scelzi, 15.290; 30. 68-Chase Johnson, 15.339; 31. O-Bud Kaeding, 15.393; 32. 2LX-Logan Forler, 15.461; 33. 44-Chris Martin, 15.495; 34. 1S-Logan Schuchart, 15.542; 35. 17-Josh Baughman, 15.672; 36. 90-Lance Norick, 15.989
Heat 1 - (8 Laps - Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature) - 1. 83-Joey Saldana ; 2. 1-Sammy Swindell ; 3. 29-Kerry Madsen ; 4. 11K-Kraig Kinser ; 5. 7S-Jason Sides ; 6. 18S-Jason Solwold ; 7. 41X-Dominic Scelzi ; 8. 1A-Jacob Allen ; 9. 44-Chris Martin 
Heat 2 - (8 Laps - Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature) - 1. 15-Donny Schatz ; 2. 24R-Rico Abreu ; 3. 9-Daryn Pittman ; 4. 55L-Aaron Reutzel ; 5. 2L-Danny Lasoski ; 6. 1S-Logan Schuchart ; 7. 5-David Gravel ; 8. 68-Chase Johnson ; 9. W20-Greg Wilson 
Heat 3 - (8 Laps - Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature) - 1. 21-Brian Brown ; 2. 18-Ian Madsen ; 3. 24-Terry McCarl ; 4. 73-Brady Bacon ; 5. 41-Jason Johnson ; 6. 44W-Austen Wheatley ; 7. O-Bud Kaeding ; 8. 17-Josh Baughman ; 9. 88N-DJ Netto 
Heat 4 - (8 Laps - Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature) - 1. 49-Brad Sweet ; 2. 17W-Bryan Clauson ; 3. 2-Shane Stewart ; 4. 82-Dusty Zomer ; 5. 7-Paul McMahan ; 6. 13-Mark Dobmeier ; 7. 2LX-Logan Forler ; 8. 55-Trey Starks ; 9. 90-Lance Norick 
Dash - (6 Laps, finishing order determined first 8 starting positions of A-feature) - 1. 49-Brad Sweet ; 2. 15-Donny Schatz ; 3. 83-Joey Saldana ; 4. 24R-Rico Abreu ; 5. 21-Brian Brown ; 6. 1-Sammy Swindell ; 7. 18-Ian Madsen ; 8. 17W-Bryan Clauson 
Last Chance Showdown - (12 Laps - Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature) - 1. 5-David Gravel  [-]; 2. 55-Trey Starks  [-]; 3. 18S-Jason Solwold  [-]; 4. 1S-Logan Schuchart  [-]; 5. O-Bud Kaeding  [$300]; 6. 88N-DJ Netto  [$250]; 7. 44W-Austen Wheatley  [$225]; 8. 2LX-Logan Forler  [$200]; 9. 41X-Dominic Scelzi  [$200]; 10. 17-Josh Baughman  [$200]; 11. 68-Chase Johnson  [$200]; 12. 44-Chris Martin  [$200]; 13. 1A-Jacob Allen  [$200]; 14. 90-Lance Norick  [$200]; 15. 13-Mark Dobmeier  [$200]; 16. W20-Greg Wilson  [$200]