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KING DONNY XL: Donny Schatz Triumphs in 40th Kings Royal for Sixth Crown
The 10-time Series champion aces Eldora to move within one of all-time Kings Royal record
ROSSBURG, OH (July 15, 2023) - A thread throughout Donny Schatz’ career is rising to the occasion. When the lights are brightest, Schatz never shies away from the stage. Instead, he summons the greatest of his talents.
That fearlessness of the moment continued on Saturday night at Rossburg, OH's Eldora Speedway. The 10-time World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car champion put together at perfect drive in the 40th edition of the coveted Kings Royal. Schatz led every single circuit of the 40-lap Feature on his way to a comfortable win.
Royal Sovereign Bobby Allen presided over the coronation as Schatz was crowned for the sixth time in his illustrious career. The 46-year-old is now only a single Crown away from matching “The King” himself – Steve Kiner’s – record count of seven Kings Royal triumphs. The victory also brought him $175,000 worth of spoils – equaling the largest payday he’s earned behind the wheel. Another noteworthy number is 13, which is now how many six-digit paychecks the Fargo, ND has collected in his career.
For Schatz and his Tony Stewart/Curb Agajanian Racing team who’ve combatted struggles as of late, the win was especially rewarding and made the emotion swell for Schatz.
“I think it’s the adversity lately” said a choked up Schatz when discussing what felt different about this Crown. “We’re not performing the way we want, and tonight we did. These guys brought a car down from upstairs with a two-year-old motor there. Obviously, it runs pretty damn good. We tried a lot of different stuff this week. We came here in May, and we were really good, but the racetrack is different. It just takes everything you can get. These guys just kept digging. There isn’t anybody in this pit area that wants to run seventh, eighth, twelfth, sixteenth, but we’ve done that. Tonight, I don’t know what you say. I guess the stars lined up.”
The stars most certainly did align throughout the entire evening at “The Big E.” A 24th-place Qualifying effort positioned him third in the lineup for the sixth Heat Race. At the start of the Heat, he immediately moved into second. But Schatz knew he needed more as winning the 10-lap bout would put him on the pole of the Feature, and running second would’ve slotted him 12th. Schatz secured the pole by muscling around Aaron Reutzel for the top spot on lap one.
The Feature went about as smooth as possible for the 10-time World of Outlaws champion. Schatz grabbed the lead when the green flag flew and hardly even faced a challenge. The only potential obstacle to confront was the way the day’s weather impacted the track with morning and afternoon rain providing plenty of moisture and a lightning-fast surface.
“I don’t remember a race even being that pace,” Schatz said. “That was wide open for 40 laps. I just told Scuba (crew chief, Steve Swenson) I don’t know if there’s much left there. I used every bit of it. Normally that’s not the case here, but we got that rain, and it’s been a little bit choppy in spots all week. I don’t think it was as bad as it is, but when you get behind someone in dirty air, and you hit that stuff, I mean I did it last night. That’s why I wasn’t going to try to tear the car up. You don’t want to try to do that. We want to race for championships. Tonight doesn’t really count for that, but it sure does count for a $175,000 payday and this pretty damn cool crown.”
Even with the tricky conditions, Schatz wasn’t impacted as he survived a bevy of restarts and sliced through traffic throughout the entire race. Early runner-up – David Gravel – showed him a nose on a couple restarts but ultimately couldn’t make a move to truly challenge the Carquest #15. Schatz took the checkered flag with a nearly four-second advantage.
“When you get in a race car and you go out and hot lap when you put your foot down, you kind of know if you’re going to be in the game or you’re not going to be in the game,” Schatz said. “The last three days, I don’t feel like I’ve been in the game. When we hot lapped tonight and qualified tonight, I could tell there was a little something there that we hadn’t had in the car that made the car roll around there different. This is my 28th Kings Royal, so I’ve got a little bit of experience. You kind of feel like you know what you’re doing.”
Finishing a spot behind Schatz with a valiant charge to the runner-up position was Brent Marks. In his quest for back-to-back Kings Royal titles, the pilot of the Murray-Marks #19 started 11th and wheeled his way forward to second. Oddly enough, the only driver to ever earn consecutive Kings Royal Crowns – Schatz – was the one who prevented Marks from becoming the second. Winning is always preferred, but after battling some struggles throughout the week, Marks came away with his head held high.
“We had a really good race car tonight,” Marks said. “We just didn’t have enough speed to catch Donny there at the end, but this whole Murray-Marks Motorsports team just did a phenomenal job all night long and all week, really. We just made huge gains and had some adversity to overcome this week. It’s just been a tough week, so to finish second tonight is just an amazing feeling.”
Rounding out the top three to equal his career-best Kings Royal finish was David Gravel. The Big Game Motorsports driver stayed in contention all race but couldn’t find the speed necessary to get by Schatz and then slipped to third when Marks moved around him. The Watertown, CT native narrowly missed out on the final leg of Sprint Car racing’s Triple Crown that he needs.
“Track position was huge there, and it just wasn’t in my cards tonight,” Gravel said. “I had one opportunity on that one restart to get by him and couldn’t clear him, and after that he was gone. I didn’t even see him at the end. He definitely was the dominant car tonight and it showed, and the fastest car won.”
Sheldon Haudenschild and Kyle Larson completed the top five.
KSE Racing Hard Charger honors went to Rico Abreu as he wheeled his #24 from 20th to sixth.
In Low-E Insulation Qualifying, Justin Peck claimed his first Simpson Performance Products QuickTime of the season and the third of his career.
CASE No.1 Engine Oil Heat One went to Kerry Madsen (192nd Heat Race win of career). NOS Energy Drink Heats Two through Six were topped by Lance Dewease (52nd of career), David Gravel (230th of career), Sheldon Haudenschild (92nd of career), Parker Price-Miller (21st of career), and Donny Schatz (517th of career).
Carson Macedo claimed the Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown.
The Smith Brake Systems “Break of the Race” went to Hunter Schuerenberg as he transferred to the Feature but engine issues prevented him from truly competing.
UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars roll eastward to “The Keystone State” to faceoff with the PA Posse for a trio of battles. The first tilt is set for BAPS Motor Speedway on Wednesday, July 19. The final two will consist of the Champion Racing Oil Summer Nationals at Williams Grove on July 21-22. For tickets, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, catch all of the action on DIRTVision.
RESULTS:NOS Energy Drink Feature (40 Laps): 1. 15-Donny Schatz; 2. 19-Brent Marks; 3. 2-David Gravel; 4. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild; 5. 57-Kyle Larson; 6. 24-Rico Abreu; 7. 83-James McFadden; 8. 41-Carson Macedo; 9. 9-Kasey Kahne; 10. 83JR-Michael Kofoid; 11. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr; 12. 7S-Robbie Price; 13. 42-Sye Lynch; 14. 11-Cory Eliason; 15. (DNF) 9P-Parker Price Miller; 16. (DNF) 71-Shane Stewart; 17. (DNF) 55-Kerry Madsen; 18. (DNF) 39M-Lance Dewease; 19. (DNF) 18-Giovanni Scelzi; 20. (DNF) 21H-Brady Bacon; 21. (DNF) 8-Aaron Reutzel; 22. (DNF) 1M-Landon Myers; 23. (DNF) 13-Justin Peck; 24. (DNF) 39-Hunter Schuerenberg
PROTECTING THE CASTLE: Carson Macedo Holds On for Eldora Knight Before Victory
Macedo triumphs over Sweet in late duel for third Eldora win
ROSSBURG, OH (July 14, 2023) - The best in the land entered the castle of Eldora Speedway Friday night, looking to claim the title of Knight before going for King.
Carson Macedo, of Lemoore, CA, journeyed through the early stages of the 30-lap Feature uncontested and never in fear, eyeing the knighthood and its $20,000 prize. But a surprise slider strike on Lap 26 by the one they call “The Big Cat” set forth a fierce duel – one that will echo through the realm before a King is crowned on Saturday.
The green flag waved on the battle, and Macedo quickly asserted his strength. After topping the Toyota Racing Dash to earn the pole for the 30-lap bout, Macedo rocketed into the lead on the opening circuit.
The only disturbance of the race came shortly after it started when Tyler Courtney went for a nasty ride in Turns 1 and 2. “Sunshine” was able to walk to the ambulance under his own power for further observation.
Once the race resumed, Macedo again wasted no time pulling ahead as the struggle to surpass him raged on behind the Jason Johnson Racing chariot. Gio Scelzi – the one known fiercely as “Hot Sauce” – surged into the runner-up spot.
But a hungry Brad Sweet clawed his way into second early, moving around the KCP Racing #18 on the third circuit. Aboard the Kasey Kahne Racing #49, Sweet then set his sights on Macedo.
At the front, Macedo masterfully worked through slower traffic. The 27-year-old hardly made a misstep as he maneuvered by slower cars and looked to be on an easy drive to the riches that awaited.
But then the slightest mistake, the smallest dip of the shield opened the door for Sweet to challenge. Macedo attempted to slide a lapped car in Turns 3 and 4 coming to five laps to go but couldn’t get him cleared. The loss of momentum gave Sweet a massive run heading down the front straightaway.
Sweet threw a slider in Turns 1 and 2, clearing Macedo as they readied for the backstretch. Macedo responded to his challenger, Brad Sweet, of Grass Valley, CA, with a slider of his own in Turns 3 and 4. Sweet then swung his #49 steed back under Macedo one last time down the front stretch, but Macedo’s 41 nosed ahead.
After securing control of the duel, Macedo offered the best defense possible by hammering four perfect laps around the Eldora cushion on his way to a 1.260 second victory.
Castle protected. Riches gained.
“I slid myself in (Turns) 3 and 4,” Macedo said to describe the late battle. “I knew I lost a lot off time, but I didn’t think he’s slide me right then. I didn’t feel like my run was that bad, so he must’ve been pretty close before that… He slid me and just woke me back up. I didn’t realize how uniform you could run the fence in (Turns) 1 and 2. Once he drove by me I kind of grabbed another gear and got my elbows way up in the seat and just started running as hard as I possibly could.
“I had a lot of fun in that race there. That was as hard as I could go there at the end. These races, whether they pay a million bucks or twenty grand, I feel like they’re just as hard to win either way. That was a 30-lap dash just like we had last night after the break.”
The victory moved Macedo up to five with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars this season and second in the last three races. The 27-year-old is up to 33 career wins with The Greatest Show on Dirt – enough to equal him with fellow full-timer – Sheldon Haudenschild – for 21st on the all-time list. Three of those wins have now been at Eldora, which ties him with none other than the man he beat – Sweet – as the winningest Californian at the historic half-mile with the World of Outlaws.
A valiant effort led Brad Sweet to securing second. The effort marked Sweet’s 17th podium of the season with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars as the four-time champion’s “Drive for Five” powers on.
“It was fast,” Sweet said. “Carson ran a really good pace there. I was up on the wheel trying to make a move. He was working hard to try to get by the lapped cars. I got one run there and had my chance and just didn’t quite get it done. He got back to my inside.”
A steady drive throughout the race led Gio Scelzi to complete the podium, giving Scelzi and his KCP Racing team their second top three of Scelzi’s rookie World of Outlaws campaign. After a crash on Thursday night, the result gave him and his crew an encouraging boost heading into the Kings Royal.
“I feel like tonight in the Dash I made a mistake that cost us a spot, but in the long run starting third was better than starting second,” Scelzi explained. “Thanks to my guys. They do a really, really good job. They worked really hard today to fix the car from last night.”
Rico Abreu and David Gravel rounded out the top five.
Sweet’s runner-up coupled with David Gravel running fifth allowed Sweet to close back in within two points of Gravel for the points lead. Macedo is a close third – 24 markers behind Gravel.
James McFadden wheeled from 25th to ninth to earn the KSE Hard Charger. The Roth Motorsports driver was also awarded the Smith Titanium Brake Systems “Break of the Race” after a Heat Race crash made his path to the top 10 in the feature a difficult one.
Logan Schuchart was the night’s Simpson Performance Products QuickTime Award – his fifth of the season and 36th of his career.
CASE No.1 Engine Oil Heat One went to Brad Sweet (225th Heat Race win of career). NOS Energy Drink Heats Two through Four were claimed by Rico Abreu (40th of career), Sheldon Haudenschild (91st of career), and Carson Macedo (106th of career).
Daryn Pittman won the Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown.
UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws conclude the 40th Kings Royal weekend on Saturday, July 15 at Eldora Speedway with $175,000 going to the driver who climbs atop the throne. For tickets, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, catch every lap live on DIRTVision.
RESULTS:NOS Energy Drink Feature (30 Laps): 1. 41-Carson Macedo; 2. 49-Brad Sweet; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi; 4. 24-Rico Abreu; 5. 2-David Gravel; 6. 13-Justin Peck; 7. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild; 8. 5-Spencer Bayston; 9. 83-James McFadden; 10. 19-Brent Marks; 11. 1S-Logan Schuchart; 12. 21-Brian Brown; 13. 83JR-Michael Kofoid; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon; 15. 21T-Cole Macedo; 16. 15-Donny Schatz; 17. 91-Kyle Reinhardt; 18. 1A-Jacob Allen; 19. 55P-Daryn Pittman; 20. 9-Kasey Kahne; 21. 17B-Bill Balog; 22. 8-Aaron Reutzel; 23. (DNF) 39M-Lance Dewease; 24. (DNF) 9P-Parker Price Miller; 25. (DNF) 7BC-Tyler Courtney