Deegan makes last-lap pass to win on Las Vegas dirt
By Jason Christley, NASCAR
Hailie Deegan was not to be denied.
In what she called the biggest race of her season and her "rebound race," second wasn't going to be good enough.
Thanks to a last-lap pass, she didnt have to settle for a runner-up finish. The 17-year-old from Temecula, California, captured her second career win and opened up the 2019 K&N Pro Series West season in Victory Lane in the Star Nursery 100 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track.
After having a pedal extension problem in her heat race forcing her to start ninth, she slowly and methodically worked her way into the top five by the lap 51 break. With some new tires and adjustments, she restarted third behind Derek Kraus and Jagger Jones.
Kraus was passed by Jones with 31 laps to go, and Deegan followed him through. But the No. 6 got smaller and smaller in her windshield, racing out to a four-second lead with 10 laps to go.
Just like she did before the midway break, she slowly reeled Jones in. As the white flag flew, Deegan was in striking distance of Jones. With the help of lapped traffic, the No. 19 dove to the inside, cleared Jones off Turn 2 and sped to the checkered flag.
"In the end we wouldn't have caught him if it weren't for the lapped cars," she said. "And they got in his way. If I was him, I'd be mad. Really mad. But some people's losses are other people's wins and we ended up getting it done. I knew what we had to do to win. I knew it was going to come down to the last lap again and we made it happen."
The NASCAR Next driver was not optimistic about her chances pre-race, saying her car was extremely ill-handling and the track wasn't conducive to her style of dirt racing. But in the downtime between the heat and 100-lap main, she did some homework and things changed.
"Mostly just me working on my lines," she said. "The line I was trying to run didn't work for my car, so I had to move around and find which line worked. Once we found that, fixed the car, the car was great. The track was still icy, and we still weren't good, but it was better than everyone else."
The thrill of victory for some is dichotomous with the agony defeat for others. In his first career K&N Pro Series West start, Jones seemed to be on his way to a victory.
Unfortunately for the 16-year-old from Scottsdale, Arizona, and his Sunrise Ford Racing team, circumstances dictated otherwise.
"Hailie definitely had a little more speed at the end," he said dejectedly. "But I think I would've held her off no problem, but lapped card cut me off, pushed me right into the tire on the last lap and Hailie was just able to get underneath me. Definitely wanted that win."
Jones wasn't upset with Deegan for the move. He was frustrated with Kenny Bumbera, who made life difficult for Jones on the final lap. When the door opened, Deegan kicked it down.
"Oh I think her move was fine," Jones said of Deegan's last lap maneuver. "I mean she didn't really do anything too bad. It's just the lapped car cut me off in front. It just pushed me up the track. Once that all happened she had a whole lane to herself. It was kind of given to her, which is unfortunate on the last lap. It just sucks sometimes."
Joey Tanner came home third in his first career series race for Jefferson Pitts Racing. Kody Vanderwal and Todd Souza rounded out the top five.
After leading a race-high 60 laps, Derek Kraus finished sixth with Trevor Huddleston, Travis Milburn, polesitter Austin Reed (led the first eight laps) and Matt Levin completing the top 10.
The Star Nursery 100 is scheduled to be broadcast on Tuesday, March 5 at 6 p.m. on NBCSN.
NASCAR K&N PRO SERIES WEST Star Nursery 100
Time of Race: 0 hours 52 minutes 9 seconds
Margin of Victory: .385 seconds
Caution Flags: 5 for 21 laps.
Lead Changes: 3 among 4 drivers.
Lap Leaders: A. Reed 1-8; D. Kraus 9-68; J. Jones 69-99; H. Deegan 100.
Standings: 1. H. Deegan, 47; 2. J. Jones, 43; 3. J. Tanner, 41; 4. K. Vanderwal, 40; 5. D. Kraus, 40; 6. T. Souza, 39; 7. T. Huddleston, 37; 8. T. Milburn, 36; 9. A. Reed, 36; 10. M. Levin, 34.
Schatz defies odds in Sin City
By Nick Graziano, World of Outlaws
The final night of racing at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas was Donny Schatz's to lose. He was hundredths of a second away from winning his Heat race, he won the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash, and he pulled away with the lead at the start of the Feature in front of thousands that came to see a historic night of racing that paired the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
But on lap 14 he lost it. Series points leader Daryn Pittman had inched closer and closer to Schatz every lap, eventually finding grip in the middle of the track and darting by him.
He stretched the lead of the FVP Platinum Battery Showdown presented Star Nursery between he and Schatz to about a straightaway's length. Even with multiple cautions, and an Open Red, allowing teams to refuel their car, Pittman never fluttered, always knowing where to find grip on the rubbered down track, gradually moving from the top of the track at the beginning of the race to the bottom of the track by the end. The race was then his to lose.
And on the final lap of the race, he lost it. Blocked by a slower lap car - a situation Pittman used to his advantage to win his first race of the season - Schatz took advantage of a clear opening on the high side of the track to get his Tony Stewart Racing car back by Pittman and then held him off to claim a victory he thought he lost.
"I didn't think we'd get him (Pittman)," said 10-time Series Champion Schatz. "But we hit traffic on the last corner. He went there (low), and I was going the other place. It was either win it or wear it, and lucky we won it."
Lady Luck was good to Schatz. Not only did he find luck in lap traffic, he found luck in his tires holding on until the end of the 30-lap Feature, extended by multiple cautions - as his right rear tire could have been mistaken for a slick stock car tire by the end of the race. Pittman cited drivers' fear of blowing a tire is why he caught lap traffic in five laps after a late race caution, leading to him losing the race.
"We were lapping really good cars. The problem was everybody's pace was off, because I think everybody was afraid of blowing tires," Pittman said. "They were just going slower than I thought they would. Honestly if I could have replayed it, I probably would have just slowed down from the time we went green with five to go."
However, Pittman acknowledged he couldn't slow down too much because Schatz "will blow his tire trying to win a race and not think twice about it."
The victory is Schatz's 13th win at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas and his 284th World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victory. He went winless in the first three races of the season for the first time since 2013 - a stat he laughed off, but is glad to get past.
"I went three races without a win. Holy hell, I'm glad we're over that hump," Schatz said.
Looking to spoil the Schatz and Pittman battle for the lead, which ended with a 0.071-sec. gap, was third place finisher Logan Schuchart. He quietly worked his way through the field, from 10th, getting to third by lap 13. He stalked the two Series champions throughout the race, staying close enough to pounce if one bobbled, but neither did.
"I thought I might have a shot right there at the end with both of them," Schuchart said. "But these guys are World of Outlaws champions. They're going to be tough to beat and they're not going to make many mistakes."
He too was worried about his tires at the end of the race, stating he slowed his pace a little to not blow one.
Tires plagued Cory Eliason's night with his right rear tire blowing in the closing laps of the race, but he still managed to be the KSE Hard Charger for the second night in a row. He finished 13th after starting 24th.
While Schatz claimed the victory at the FVP Platinum Battery Showdown, Pittman remains the points leader - by just four points over Schatz.
World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series actions resumes March 8-9 at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, CA. As always, you can catch all the action on DIRTVision.com.
Donny Schatz's last lap pass to claim his 284th win came on an historic night for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Car Series. For the first time, the World of Outlaws and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West were paired together for a thrilling night of racing at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas.
It was an event that drew a crowd of thousands in the stands and attracted a wide range of media attention.
"I'm glad to see a lot of the NASCAR fans here," Schatz said. "We met a lot of NASCAR people the last couple of days, people who have never seen a Sprint Car before. So hopefully it opens their eyes to new things."
Echoing the heart-pounding finish to the World of Outlaws race, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West put on an equally exciting show, with rising NASCAR star Hailie Deegan making a last lap pass for the win in the 100-lap Star Nursery 100. While the 17-year-old is paving a bright future for herself in NASCAR, she couldn't help but be drawn to the "gnarly" Sprint Cars.
"It's sick," Deegan said about NASCAR racing with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars. "At Volusia (Speedway Park) was the first time I saw Outlaw racing, and man, I wanted to get into a car so bad… I think coming out here with the Sprint Cars definitely made for a good show."
Swanson sweeps Las Vegas showdown finale
By Lance Jennings, USAC
Starting eighth, Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) used a daring last-lap pass over Charles Davis Jr. to win his first USAC West Coast Sprint Car feature of 2019.
Piloting the Grau/Burkhart No. 34AZ Western Diversified/KSE Custom Drywall DRC, Swanson earned the $3,000 jackpot at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Davis, Stevie Sussex, Wednesday winner Brody Roa and Tristan Guardino rounded out the top five drivers.
Swanson posted his sixth career Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Award over the 19-car field by posting a time of 18.807. The 2017 champion also raced to victory in the Extreme Mufflers Heat Race No. 1 and was the night's hard charger. "Hollywood" Danny Faria Jr. took the checkered flags in the night's second 8-lap heat race.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Hardy, Laps 3-19 Davis, Lap 20 Swanson.
HARD CHARGER: Jake Swanson (8th to 1st)
USAC 360 West Coast Sprints 25-lap feature
- Jake Swanson; 2. Charles Davis Jr. (-0.187 seconds); 3. Steve Sussex (-2.829); 4. Brody Roa (-4.695); 5. Tristan Guardino (-5.983); 6. Dennis Gile (-8.833); 7. Johnathan Jorgenson (-11.136); 8. Colton Hardy (-13.672); 9. Koen Shaw (-14.088); 10. Kyle Edwards (-14.908); 11. T.J. Smith (-18.730); 12. Sterling Cling (-20.483); 13. Slatter Helt (-20.567); 14. Micheal Fanelli (-1 lap); 15. Hannah Mayhew (-1 lap); 16. John Butler (-7 laps); 17. Danny Faria (-11 laps); 18. Ryan Timmons (-19 laps); 19. Austin Ervine (-19 laps).
World of Outlaws 30-lap feature
- Donny Schatz; 2. Daryn Pittman (-.071 of a second); 3. Logan Schuchart (-0.459); 4. Ian Madsen (-2.873); 5. Kyle Larson (-5.995); 6. Carson Macedo (-7.049); 7. David Gravel (-9.620); 8. Shane Golobic (-10.557); 9. Jason Sides (-11.851); 10. Shane Stewart (-12.793); 11. Brad Sweet (-13.213); 12. Giovanni Scelzi (-13.819); 13. Cory Eliason (-16.027); 14. Aaron Reutzel (-16.130); 15. Kraig Kinser (-16.341); 16. Sheldon Haudenschild (-16.665); 17. Tim Shaffer (-19.460); 18. Sam Hafertepe (-1 lap); 19. Kasey Kahne (-2 laps); 20. Paul McMahan (-13 laps); 21. Jacob Allen (-17 laps); 22. Tim Kaeding (-19 laps); 23. Terry McCarl (-22 laps); 24. Dominic Scelzi; 25. Parker Price-Miller.
Star Nursery 100 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West 100-lap feature
- Hailie Deegan; 2. Jagger Jones (-0.385 of a second); 3. Joey Tanner (-1.610); 4. Kody Vanderwal (-5.348); 5. Todd Souza (-6.039); 6. Derek Kraus (-13.885); 7. Trevor Huddleston (-16.045); 8. Travis Milburn (-16.283); 9. Austin Reed (-16.582); 10. Matt Levin (-20.478); 11. Brittney Zamora (-24.200); 12. Kenny Bumbera (-1 lap); 13. Robert Powers (-1 lap); 14. David Hibbard (-1 lap); 15. Rich Delong III (-1 lap); 16. Tony Toste (-1 lap); 17. Takuma Koga (-3 laps); 18. Tim Spurgeon (-73 laps); 19. Taylor Canfield (-99 laps).