Stewart Stops Schatz Winning Machine
LEBANON, Ore. — It took seven races across three states and two countries, but Donny Schatz’s six-race winning streak was snapped Tuesday night by Shane Stewart at Willamette Speedway.
Stewart battled Joey Saldana and held off Daryn Pittman to score his second World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory of the season.
“I knew Donny was starting fourth and I knew the track was getting pretty slick – you just never can count the guy out,” Stewart said. “He just does not make mistakes. I know personally it makes me and it makes my crew guys work even harder to beat him. I can’t thank (my crew) enough.”
This was Stewart’s second points win with the Outlaws this season and third with the series overall. Earlier this season he won the Knight Before the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway and the first qualifying night at Knoxville Raceway (a non-points event).
Stewart, who started on the outside pole, battled Saldana through the opening laps as Schatz moved into the top three following a red flag just as the green flag waved. Saldana first hit lapped traffic on lap five. As he worked his way through Stewart was able to close the gap in his Go Pro / Kick-It for Children’s Cancer car.
“I knew Joey was going to be pretty good against the curb and sometimes leading you just don’t know where to go,” Stewart said. “We were able to get by him in lapped traffic and that caution actually helped me a lot getting out of lapped traffic. The car got pretty tight when you were getting behind cars against that big curb.”
Saldana led the first 14 laps in his Motter Equipment car before Stewart took over the lead.
Farther back, a battle was underway between the reigning Outlaws champion Daryn Pittman and the current points leader, Schatz, for the third position. Like Stewart, Pittman was able to use lapped traffic to his advantage, eventually finding his way around Schatz on lap nine. Pittman then set his sights on the second.
As Saldana slipped back, Pittman caught and passed the No. 71m on lap 17, again using lapped traffic to his advantage.
A caution flag waved on lap 23 as Stewart led Pittman, Saldana, Schatz and McMahan. The restart that followed gave Saldana the shot he needed to retake his position in the top-three but Pittman was able to slide Saldana through turns three and four and maintain the position by the time the field made the first lap following the restart.
“I didn’t want to see that yellow,” Pittman said. “I’m not sure that it would have changed the outcome of the race at all but I definitely didn’t want to see that yellow. I thought we were coming to (Stewart) and there were some good lapped cars there in front of us that were going to mix things up.”