Schatz wins again

Following Sunday’s World of Outlaws Sprint Cars race at Nodak Speedway, Minot native and points leader Donny Schatz participated in the #ALSIceBucketChallenge.

It’s been the only thing that’s been able to cool Schatz down over the last month.

Schatz continued his recent hot streak at the track he grew up on, passing Joey Saldana with nine laps remaining to win his third straight Sprint race on the state fairgrounds. It was his 15th win this season and sixth in the last nine races.

“There’s nothing better,” Schatz said. “It feels good to be home and put on a good show and win the race. It’s a testament to this team. This team is awesome. The performance they’ve put forth the past six weeks is awesome. We’re living in a dream world and we’re gonna keep having fun.”

Schatz started the 35-lap race in third behind Saldana the pole-sitter – and Kraig Kinser. Schatz moved past Kinser on the opening lap, but couldn’t maneuver by Saldana in the early going. Anytime he would get close, Saldana would widen the gap on the front or back straightaway.

Lap traffic became a factor on more than one occasion. The leaders found the lap car just five laps into the race, though Saldana held a firm grip onto his lead. It wasn’t until Lap 14 when Schatz was on Saldana’s rear bumper. Two laps later, the first yellow flag appeared and Schatz and Saldana were side-by side.

They again hit lap traffic, this time on Lap 21, but that was quickly erased due to a caution on the next lap. Schatz still couldn’t find his way by Saldana.

“He was good,” Schatz said. “We tried to chase him there on the bottom, but the track was just so fast and grippy that we couldn’t get any wheel spin and we had to wait for it to slow down just a little bit and get some wheel spin.”

Schatz made his move on the third restart. After Dave Glennon’s car went off the track for the second time, prompting another caution, Schatz opted for the top of the track and grabbed the lead from Sadana on Lap 27. He held off Saldana by 0.597 seconds to complete the three-peat at Nodak Speedway.

“He caught me on a restart,” Saldana said. “He just stayed on the top and the bottom was slowing down.”

A quick downpour that caused roughly a 30-minute delay during the IMCA Stock Cars feature didn’t seem to affect the Sprint Car drivers. “We expected it to be a lot wetter,” Schatz said. “When it’s raining like that it gets the track greasy and takes a long time to get run in. Guys did a phenomenal job of working it in. It was probably just a little bit greasy at the start but not too bad. We made the right changes, put the right tires on and we were able to get a victory.”

David Gravel, Paul McMahan and Kinser rounded out the top five. Twenty-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser, making his final trip to Nodak Speedway, finished 22nd and completed just six laps.

Mother Nature couldn’t stop Joe Flory from winning the Stock Cars feature preceding the Sprint Cars. He grabbed the lead from Nathan Burke on the first lap and led the rest of the way.

The race was halted due to rain after nine laps. When the drivers returned to the track, Flory held on to the lead, winning by 1.455 seconds over Burke. Michael Vennes, Scott Yale and Dalton Flory rounded out the top five.

Racing returns to Nodak Speedway on Sunday at 6 p.m. for championship night. All five classes will be in action.

Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.

Unofficial Results

IMCA Stock Cars

A-Main: 1. Joe Flory; 2. Nathan Burke; 3. Michael Vennes; 4. Scott Yale; 5. Dalton Flory.

Sprint Cars

A-Main: 1. Donny Schatz; 2. Joey Saldana; 3. David Gravel; 4. Paul McMahan; 5. Kraig Kinser.