Sprint Car News

Donny Schatz Drives Away to I-55 World of Outlaws Victory

Schatz takes the lead early and builds a commanding lead on his way to third win at the Pevely, MO oval (Trent Gower Photo)

PEVELY, MO (April 13, 2024) – Donny Schatz is undeniably one of the best to ever drive a Sprint Car. And the 10-time World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car champion gave yet another example of why on Saturday night.

The Greatest Show on Dirt invaded Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 for the second straight night, and Schatz gave the huge crowd a show. The Fargo, ND driver started fourth for the 40-lap finale, took the lead on Lap 11, and stretched his advantage to nearly five seconds at one point before taking the checkered flag for his second win of 2024.

The trip to Victory Lane felt especially rewarding after a 20th place Qualifying effort left him and the Tony Stewart/Curb Agajanian Racing team playing catch up early in the night.

“If you were near my trailer after Qualifying, you probably heard some choice words, so I apologize for that,” Schatz said. “It just shows the heart of this team. It’s such a double-edged razor blade somedays. We dug out of a huge hole tonight and got a win at a racetrack we typically don’t run good on. We threw two kitchen sinks at it tonight. This place is demanding, and we haven’t been to Victory Lane here in a long time and didn’t really know what the track was going to do. I just went where everybody wasn’t, and it actually felt pretty good.”

Schatz upped his World of Outlaws win total to 313. The victory was his third at I-55 and first since 2015. It also marked his 50th top-10 finish at the Pevely, MO bullring – making it the fifth track where he’s reached the impressive feat. Win number two of 2024 makes it 26 consecutive seasons of multiple World of Outlaws checkered flags.

The 40-lap main event got off to a wild start. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid led the field to green with Logan McCandless – making only his sixth Series appearance – to his outside. McCandless slipped up down the front straightaway allowing the second row of Bill Balog and Donny Schatz to his inside. In the first set of corners, Kofoid got tight which let Balog roll by him down the back straightaway to take the lead and pace the opening circuit.

An early restart saw near disaster at the front of the field. Kofoid used a huge run to attack Balog for the lead exiting Turn 2. Balog slid up, and Kofoid used evasive action to avoid making contact with the Anderson’s Maple #17B. Behind the top two Schatz stuck the bottom and rolled right by Kofoid to snag the runner-up spot.

Over the next few laps Kofoid challenged Schatz in an attempt to regain second, but Schatz fended him off and set his sights on Balog. The “North Pole Nightmare” kept a solid advantage, but Schatz began to close in as traffic thickened ahead.

On the 11th circuit, Balog found himself caught up behind a lapped car which opened the door for Schatz. The pilot of the Carquest #15 fired a slide job in Turns 3 and 4 and cleared both Balog and the slower car.

Balog stayed right with Schatz throughout the next couple circuits. But it didn’t take long for Schatz to establish a rhythm and begin to look like prime Donny Schatz. He put a pair of lapped cars between himself and Balog and began to pull away.

From there, Schatz sliced his way through the tail of the field with precision. If they were running high in front of him, he went low. If they were low, he went high. If they were in the middle, he could choose either the top or the bottom. Schatz’s lead bloomed to as much as 4.6 seconds.

Carson Macedo took the second spot from Balog on Lap 25 and looked to bring a battle to Schatz. As the race dipped inside 10 laps remaining, the Jason Johnson Racing pilot began to take chunks out of the margin. He cut it below two seconds on Lap 36, but it was too little, too late as Schatz rolled to his third I-55 win.

“Sometimes it’s probably better to be in the position where you’re in that second row not knowing what the racetrack is going to do,” Schatz said. “And I think that was a huge thing tonight. The #41 there he was pretty good on the bottom early, and I couldn’t ever really get down there. I was worried about the hole off of (Turn) 2. Hats off to the whole Carquest team. It was actually a pretty fun race. Normally when we come here it’s up near the fence. And tonight, we could roll around on the fence, on the bottom, kind of anywhere. So that felt really good.”

Macedo’s runner-up gave him back-to-back podium efforts with the JJR crew. He’s still yet to miss the top-10 since the finale of DIRTcar Nationals in early February. Another strong Albaugh #41 machine led Macedo to another solid outing, his sixth top three in the last eight I-55 races.

“I feel like we had a strong race car there throughout that whole race,” Macedo said. “I was able to move around a lot in traffic. Philip Dietz did an incredible job there. I feel like we made some good adjustments in the Dash and got even better there in the Feature, which feels really good.”

Rounding out the top three was Buddy Kofoid and the Roth Motorsports crew. The pairing continues to build momentum with their third podium in the last four races. A win seems imminent for the Penngrove, CA native. After the race, a contrite Kofoid offered apologies for some late contact with David Gravel.

“First off I just want to apologize to David and his whole crew,” Kofoid said. “Obviously, that was not my intention. I feel really bad about that. I know saying that isn’t going to change anything… We were good all day. Good weekend for our Roth Motorsports/Mobil 1, Toyota guys. I don’t know if we were good enough to win, but I felt like I kind of made a couple of mistakes early and then got going in the middle and end, but it wasn’t quite enough to get there.”

David Gravel and Bill Balog completed the top five.

A 23rd to 11th drive gave Austin McCarl the KSE Racing Hard Charger.

Carson Macedo claimed his third Simpson Quick Time of the year and the 36th of his career in Sea Foam Qualifying.

NOS Energy Drink Heats One, Three, and Four went to Carson Macedo (116th Heat Race win of career), Giovanni Scelzi (44th of career), and Landon Crawley (second of career). Milton Hershey School Heat Two belonged to David Gravel (247th of career).

Garet Williamson won the Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown.

For more information, visit worldofoutlaws.com/sprintcars/