5 times World of Outlaws Champion Donny Schatz brought his A-Game to Supercheap Autos Archerfield Speedway tonight as he stormed to victory in the 2014 Australian Open that doubles as Round Seven of the ENZED World Series Sprintcars Championship.
Schatz steered his Crimsafe J&J to victory in the marathon 50-lap $20,000 to win main event but not before having his hands full with a spirited David Murcott who led 19 laps in his East Coast Logistics #83 Maxim.
Schatz got by the Victorian but four laps later Murcott had reassumed the point position until the American slotted back by into fresh air on lap 27.
Murcott’s stellar run (in which he ran in the top three) came to an abrupt end on lap 42 when he caught the very pronounced cushion and flipped the #83 up on to the turn four concrete wall.
Until that moment it had been one of his best drives in many seasons in what had been a fitting reward for pole position and $500 cash thanks to his win in the Amadio Wines Top 8 Shootout before the main event.
“It was a lot of fun racing with Dave for the first half of the race,” Schatz would later tribute, “it’s rare that you can run so close to someone without them getting into you or changing lines constantly. I felt very comfortable running with him like that.”
Despite dense and often two-wide lapped traffic in front of him Schatz showed his class for a large and appreciative crowd on hand – a crowd that included long time West Aussie car owner Luch Monte who had flown over for the weekend.
Steven Lines moved his Halls Haulage #3 KPC into second after getting by Murcott on lap 27 and several times the hard charging South Australian appeared to be making ground on the 5 times World of Outlaw champion.
Though he was unable to get close enough to have a real crack at the leader Lines paid tribute to his American rival.
“He just doesn’t make any mistakes. I had a look a couple of times but we never really got close enough to make a real play for the lead. In instances like that you have to keep reminding yourself to pay attention to what he’s doing and learning from one of the best. This is a good result for us, I’m pleased for the team and I’m relieved that we have our motor program back in shape.”
The big movers in the field were James McFadden (Totally Workwear Cool) and American Brad Sweet in his Highrace Towing #99 TI22.
The Californian charged to an eventual third place and was really gaining on Lines and Schatz as the chequers flew.
“My motor was starting to get hot towards the end but if it hadn’t I sure would have liked another twenty laps,” he mused, “the car was beautiful and I really enjoyed my first look at Archerfield. It’s a racy place.”
McFadden came from tenth to fourth and as a consequence of playing his “Joker” card was able to double his points haul and move into the series lead, despite the fact that Steven Lines had placed second and finished two spots ahead of the defending champion in the A-Main.
McFadden is clearly frustrated at not being able to break through for his first WSS main event win for 2013/2014 despite clearly having the car speed.
The two-time and defending champ now has a 112 point lead over Lines as the series heads to Lismore Speedway next weekend for Round 8.
Brooke Tatnell raced through the field to salvage fifth in his Krikke Motorsport Cool despite the best efforts of fast-finishing American Jason Sides trying to pip him for the spot in the #7 Horrell Motorsport Maxim.
Luke Dillon was racy early in his Diamond Bay Motorsports #26 Maxim but faded late in the race to seventh despite a typically barnstorming drive from the quietly spoken South Australian.
Dillon battled with fellow South Aussie Daniel Pestka for several laps with Pestka’s GFM J&J eventually placing eighth behind Dillon’s #26.
Grant Anderson ran a consistent ninth in the Fuchs #37 Maxim ahead of Ian Madsen (who changed a motor in the Dave Sharman fettled #29 Watson’s Transport Eagle) in tenth, Shane Stewart (who came from 19th) in the Milwaukee Power Tools #7 Maxim eleventh, Andrew Scheuerle’s Ausdeck Patios & Roofing Cool in twelfth, David Muir’s Titan Garages #36 Maxim thirteenth, Luke Oldfield’s #17 JB Automotive entry fourteenth, Bryan Mann’s #16 Eagle Motorsport entry fifteenth, Brent Aprile in the Everyready Technologies #42 Maxim sixteenth and Jamie Veal seventeenth in the Heytesbury Stockfeeds #35 J&J.
Veal was indeed lucky to finish the event after he was involved in a red light situation with Dylan Jenkin (DNF) in the Gericke Bulk Handling Cool and Luke Oldfield in turn two.
Veal and Jenkin both were able to restart due in no small part to the various crew from other teams who lent a hand under the red light period but Jenkin retired not long after with complications from the initial incident.
Robbie Farr was a lively contestant in the Hi-Tec Oils Maxim but retired from the main event with a mystery mechanical ailment not long after David Murcott’s red light stoppage in turn four with 9 laps remaining.
The winner of the mid-pack scramble was Brad Sweet over Ian Madsen whilst Jamie Veal swept the B-main from fellow transferees Luke Oldfield, Brent Aprile, Grant Anderson, Shane Stewart and Bryan Mann.
As the series heads to the neutral playing field at Lucas Oils Lismore Speedway some 84 different drivers have now contested events on the 2013/2014 ENZED World Series Sprintcars Championship.
The top 20 in Championship points are:
James McFadden 1814
Steven Lines 1702
Luke Dillon 1656
Brooke Tatnell 1612
David Murcott 1457
Robbie Farr 1431
Shane Stewart 1306
Daniel Pestka 1243
Jamie Veal 1224
Dylan Jenkin 1168
Garry Brazier 1001
Ian Madsen 998
Brad Keller 962
Jackson Delamont 956
Brad Sweet 923
Daniel Harding 840
Kyle Hirst 801
Donny Schatz 777
Matt Egel 756
Grant Anderson 709
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