Schatz Wins From 21st

Schatz Wins From 21st
Donny Schatz celebrates winning the 53rd annual FVP Knoxville Nationals. (Ken Simon photo)
Saturday, August 10, 2013
By Mike Kerchner
KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Donny Schatz is running out of ways to win the Knoxville Nationals.
Saturday night Schatz made a last-lap pass to win the B main and then romped from 21st starting position to pass Brian Brown on lap 41 and win sprint-car racing’s biggest race for the seventh time in the past eight years.
Victory in the 53rd annual FVP Knoxville Nationals paid Schatz and his Tony Stewart Racing team $150,000 and was his 14th World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series triumph of the season.
It was also Schatz’s third victory at Knoxville’s half-mile dirt oval this season and the third time that Brown, who was runner-up to Schatz in this race last year, finished second to Schatz.
“This is the hardest earned one we have, especially we have felt all week long,” said Schatz. “We didn’t doubt ourselves, but when things don’t go the way you expect, you get a little nervous. But to start 21st and win the race is just incredible. Last night I was hoping to win the World Challenge and take that 25th starting spot, but tonight it really helped us to be able to run that B main.”
Brown took the lead from outside the front row and jumped out to a huge lead, while all eyes in the near capacity crowd of more than 20,000 were on Schatz as he picked off one car at a time.
He was up to fifth by the time the fuel stop was called for after 24 of the 50 laps. After five yellow flags during the first 24 laps, the final 26 circuits went caution free and Schatz got his No. 15 hooked up and made quick work of Kevin Swindell, Justin Henderson and Joey Saldana on his way to the leader.
Schatz swept around Brown on lap 41 and led the final 10 laps to finish off a dominant performance in a week during which he had looked beatable on his qualifying night on Wednesday and again during Friday’s SPEED SPORT Knoxville World Challenge.
The victory also came on Schatz’s 36th birthday.
Interestingly, Schatz said having learned to drive Darrell Lanigan's late model helped him in pursuit of his seventh Knoxville Nationals triumph.
"I kept trying different lines," Schatz said. "I would go to the top and I would go to the bottom and I would turn down through the middle. Driving a dirt late model helped me a lot tonight because it taught me how to drive without the wing. I drove it like a dirt late model from the middle off tonight."
As for starting 21st, it was simple motivation.
"It was motivation," Schatz said. "This race team is unbelievable. I told the guys if we weren’t in the top five at the break we would be in trouble. It was a lot of fun to pass all those cars and get up through there."
Brown earned $75,000 for finishing second with Justin Henderson turning in his best Nationals finish in third. Paul McMahan and Chad Kemenah, who started 19th, rounded out the top five.
"You could start the guy in Oskaloosa and he’s going to have a chance," said Brown. "We don’t realize what a great champion he is and we don’t always respect that. When I looked up at the board and I saw that No. 15 coming, I thought, ‘Oh, s---.’ I used my stuff up early in that run and I’m disappointed."