After topping the season-opening DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida in February, Donny Schatz, a 10-time World of Outlaws Series champion, also scored the season-ending World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte on Nov. 5, giving the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing No. 15 back-to-back wins to end the year.
Leading the final 20 laps of the $25,000-to-win finale, the Fargo, North Dakota, native passed Brad Sweet in similar fashion to the previous day’s feature as he drove the Ford Performance, Advance Auto Parts, Carquest Auto Parts No. 15 to his 14th career win at the Concord, North Carolina, 4/10-mile dirt track.
“These guys are incredible, considering what they’ve done the last couple of weeks,” Schatz said after a $40,000 weekend. “We went and tested a few weeks ago and found a lot of things. I think we’re back to the feel that we used to have, and that showed this weekend. The World Finals were electric this year. What an awesome crowd. I can’t list all the partners we have here, but there are a ton, and I’m glad we could win for them.”
Schatz will end the season fourth in the championship points — a $70,000 points fund payout — and hopes to return to contention for his 11th championship next year.
“I’m glad the season is over,” Schatz said. “Even though you run like that and perform so well, everybody needs a break, and these teams take a beating up and down the roads. We’ll do our best to continue this through the winter and into 2023. Hopefully, we can race for a championship next year with these guys. We’re going to make it hard on them next year. Congrats to Brad and his guys, though. It’s a great feeling winning these things.”
Giovanni Scelzi followed the 10-time champion to the stripe with a runner-up run for his KCP Racing No. 18. It’s his fifth World of Outlaws podium of the 2022 season. Rounding out the podium (for the 18th time in 2022) was Sheldon Haudenschild aboard the Stenhouse Jr./Marshall Racing, NOS Energy Drink No. 17.
Closing out the top five were Carson Macedo in the Jason Johnson Racing No. 41 and Sweet in the Kasey Kahne Racing No. 49, who clinched his fourth consecutive World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championship. Rounding out the top 10 were Rico Abreu in sixth, Brent Marks in seventh, Spencer Bayston in eighth, Anthony Macri in ninth and Lance Dewease in 10th.
Final 2022 championship standings (74 races): 1. Brad Sweet; 2. David Gravel; 3. Carson Macedo; 4. Donny Schatz; 5. Sheldon Haudenschild; 6. Logan Schuchart; 7. James McFadden; 8. Spencer Bayston; 9. Jacob Allen; 10. Brock Zearfoss.
Davenport wins late model World Finals
After two nights of the World of Outlaws World Finals, it appeared The Dirt Track at Charlotte was Jonathan Davenport’s kryptonite.
However, “Superman” proved that theory wrong Saturday night, flying past Hudson O’Neal on Lap 28 to score his fifth World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models win of 2022 — this one worth $25,000.
Also celebrating in Victory Lane was Dennis Erb Jr., claiming his first career World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model championship.
O’Neal, a Martinsville native who now resides in Hope, led the first 27 laps of the 50-lap affair, while Davenport ripped the cushion behind him from his eighth starting position. It was O’Neal’s first race in the Rocket Chassis House Car, which he will be piloting full time in 2023.
Davenport roared to the top of the racetrack, quickly working to fourth past Jimmy Owens and Shane Clanton when the first caution flew on Lap 20 for Kyle Strickler.
Davenport continued his rise from there, blowing past Erb and Chris Madden on the restart, putting him in a position to steal the lead from O’Neal.
Davenport thundered under O’Neal on Lap 28, pulling even with him between turns 1 and 2. “The New Deal” held his momentum down the backstretch, but that’s when Davenport went back to the top.
The Peach State competitor blasted his Longhorn chassis off of the cushion in turns 3 and 4, soaring past O’Neal as Lap 28 clicked off of the scoreboard.
Davenport said he returned to a car that has performed well all season after his other car was involved in crashes Wednesday.
“We came in here Wednesday and struggled,” Davenport said. “We got wrecked with that car about a month ago, and it just hasn’t been the same since. We brought out the oldest car we’ve got. I mean, this thing has been beaten up and down all over the country, and whenever we bring it out, time and time again, it always performs.”
Despite his Lance Landers-owned Late Model performing on the top, Davenport said he realized late in the race his car was good enough to run anywhere.
“The bottom was pretty good there at the end,” he said. “I finally turned down there in (turns) 3 and 4, and I was like, ‘Dang, I could’ve done this the whole time, and it wouldn’t have been near as hard.’”
Madden crossed the line second, falling short of his second series triumph of 2022. The South Carolina driver said his car was good but couldn’t run the top like Davenport.
“We couldn’t rip that lip like J.D.,” Madden said. “He was free enough to rip that lip up there. He got it done up there, and we couldn’t do it. We had a great race car overall. Hats off to them guys for the win, and thanks to all of my sponsors.”
Dennis Erb Jr. finished third, officially clinching the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models championship. The Carpentersville, Illinois, driver finished the season with four victories and 13 podium finishes en route to the title.
“It’s just a lot of hard work,” Erb said. “It was years of hard work and getting everything right this year and just starting off real good. We just kept everything rolling throughout the year and kept our momentum up. The car was working great, and we had good finishes each night.”
Erb was joined in Victory Lane by longtime Crew Chief Heather Lyne, who became the first female championship-winning crew chief in a national dirt Late Model series and a national North American motorsport series.
The reigning World of Outlaws champion stated how much of an accomplishment it is for both of them.
“It means a lot,” Erb said. “Just the years going up and down the road and just everything coming together this year, to be able to knock this off my list, it’s a big accomplishment.”
Tim McCreadie finished fourth, while Dale McDowell rounded out the top five.
Tanner English also officially clinched the 2022 Rookie of the Year award after crossing the line.
This week in racing history
From 50 years ago, Ira Bastin was named the late model track champion at Brownstown Speedway. Jim Curry was runner-up in the points with Paul Crockett, Russ Petro and Kenny Simpson completing the top five drivers. The remainder of the top 10 in the final 1972 points standings were Jack Owens, Carl Collins, Dick Brinegar, Verden Kinser and John Davis. Bastin was named driver of the year at the awards banquet. Gerald Todd won rookie of the year, and Mel Vails was awarded the hard luck trophy.
From 50 years ago, Danny Bowlen was honored as the 1972 sprint car track champion at Paragon Speedway.
From 40 years ago in 1982, Kelly Kinser was the Bloomington Speedway sprint car track champion.
James Essex writes a motorsports notebook for The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].