Schatz wins, Stewart 7th down under
Four-time World of Outlaws Champion Donny Schatz continued his winning ways with victory in the Valvoline Australian Sprintcar Grand Prix at Sydney’s Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway this evening.
|The American trio of Tony Stewart, Donny Schatz and Tim Shaffer during the parade laps at Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway|
Driving the Garry Rush-owned Pick’n’Payless entry, Schatz started the night off in flying fashion by setting the fastest time during qualifying before finishing second in his heat race.
Schatz’s team boss in the World of Outlaws Series, NASCAR Legend Tony Stewart, was coming to grips with a rain soaked ‘heavy’ track during the early part of the evening before starting from the back row in the main event.
After starting from position six in the 30-lap feature race Schatz had powered his way to the front of the field by the end of the second lap, only to have his passes negated when Warren Ferguson rolled his car bringing the race to it’s first stoppage.
The American was then forced to endure several further stoppages before eventually pulling clear of the field.
Behind Schatz multiple-time, and current, Australian Champion Garry Brazier was engaged in a hard fought battle with local driver Damian Abbott for the runner-up spot.
After Brazier finally got the better for the battle for second place he was closing in on Schatz for the race lead and appeared set to pounce for the victory. However, when Abott upended his machine following contact while lapping Mitchell Dumesny with three laps remaining, the race came to a premature end due to time constraints with Schatz declared the winner.
"I’m glad to be back, mother nature didn't co-operate last night and we here tonight, we got a great race in and glad to get the win,” said Schatz.
“Tony is my boss 95% of the time and it's pretty neat to see him out here, he loves dirt track racing and loves these types of cars but I think tonight was a little bit trying for him.
|Tony Stewart struggled on the tacky track|
“It was probably the hookiest and wettest track that he'd raced on in his life in a winged SprintCar and pretty trying for both of us to get him comfortable in the car.
“Tony came forward a long ways, learned a lot here tonight, had a lot of fun and got to see a lot of people out here.”
Stewart came to grips with the challenging track surface during the feature race to steadily move forward before finding his way to seventh place in at the finish in one his rare appearances behind the wheel of an 800-plus horsepower Sprintcar.
"I think to finish seventh from the tail was ok, it was a good first night for me, obviously not as good as my team-mate who won the race but he runs 100 races a year and I get to run three,” said Stewart.
"I don't know how many days it is until we run again but I can't wait for it.
"I'm a little tired tonight, it is a set of muscles that I don't use very much but I had a blast.
“The rain really hurt the racetrack, it was hard, with the rain that we got over the last couple of days it was bound to make the track a little messy but I think everybody did a pretty good job considering the conditions.”
Schatz’s fellow American Tim Shaffer raced his way to third place ahead of local trio Grant Tunks, James Thompson and Adrian Maher.
Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway will light up again in two days time (Tuesday December 29) for the Hogs Breath Sprintcar International.