Schatz wins King's Royal at Eldora Speedway

Published: 7/17/2017 10:00 AM
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BY TODD HEINTZELMAN

FOR THE NEWS-ITEM

NEW WESTON, OHIO — Donny Schatz dominated the prestigious King’s Royal Saturday night becoming the first driver to win the race back-to-back at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in western Ohio.

Schatz’s win was worth $50,000 in a car owned by Stewart. It was a complete sweep for Schatz as he set quick time, won his heat race after starting fifth, and then won the feature.

Christopher Bell, who also drove for Stewart, raced from 20th to second in the non-stop 40-lap event.

But, he never got to challenge Schatz as he couldn’t even see his teammate when he moved into second.

Seven-time King’s Royal winner Steve Kinser was the Royal Sovereign for the event which made it more special for Schatz, who ran as a teammate to Kinser for years at Tony Stewart Racing.

“I’m going to get to stand next to the real king and that means a lot to me,” said Schatz. “He’s always been my hero and an ambassador to our sport.”

Once he got the lead, Schatz was never challenged as he raced to his fourth career King’s Royal win in front of the largest crowd ever to watch the race.

“My car was awesome,” said Schatz. “I just had to be patient. We decided to change a little gear because we thought it was going to slow down. I don’t know if that was the right thing to do or not. These guys do an awesome job. It’s an honor to be standing here.”

In his first King’s Royal main event start, Ohio’s Cole Duncan started on the pole and shot into the lead over Brad Sweet.

Schatz started sixth and passed Tim Shaffer and Jac Haudenschild on the opening lap. On lap six, Schatz passed Sheldon Haudenschild for third.

Two laps later, Duncan began to lap slower cars. Schatz passed Sweet as they raced into turn three on lap 13 and then passed Duncan on lap 14 to take the lead.

Sweet’s pass of Duncan moved him into second as Schatz led by 1.805 seconds in only a few laps.

As they raced through traffic, Schatz’s lead increased to 4.5 seconds as Duncan looked to take second back from Sweet.

Bell had marched through the field and into the top five passing Lee Jacobs and Duncan. As he raced through traffic, he did make contact with the back of Jac Haudenschild’s sprinter in turn two and that pushed the front wing back on his No. 14.

Schatz led by almost nine seconds as Bell put a third turn slider on Sweet for second.

Bell was able to chip away at Schatz’s lead, but his margin of victory was still 3.966 seconds. Bell finished second giving Tony Stewart Racing a one-two sweep for the second straight night only in reverse order. Sweet finished third. The race was timed in 10:49.86.

Bell earned $20,000 and Sweet earned $15,000.

“That was a ton of fun up there running around the fence,” said Bell. “He was so far ahead. I couldn’t even see Donny. To run second in the King’s Royal, especially to Donny, is something I’m proud of.”

“We’ve got to get our car a little better,” said Sweet, who won the race in 2013. “They did a better job than us tonight.”

Duncan held onto fourth and a $12,500 payday.

Ryan Smith, of Kunkletown, started last and took fifth late in the race earning $10,000 in a car owned by Mark Coldren.

“It’s like a win,” said Smith. “It’s a shame we didn’t get through the heat race and have a better starting spot. The car was really good all night.”

Jacobs earned $7,500 for his sixth place finish while Chad Kemenah earned $6,500 for seventh. Daryn Pittman’s eighth place run after starting 14th was worth $6,000. Kraig Kinser raced from 17th to ninth earning $5,500. Sheldon Haudenschild rounded out the top 10 earning $5,000.

Schatz set fast time over the 53-car field with a lap of 13.197 and went from third to win the first heat after a late-race restart. Tim Shaffer, Sheldon Haudenschild, Jac Haudenschild, Sweet and Duncan won the other heats.

In local racing action, Lance Dewease of Fayetteville won his fourth Port Royal Speedway Sprint car feature of the season over Greg Hodnett, Lucas Wolfe, point leader Dylan Cisney and Blane Heimbach. In the late model feature, it was Gary Stuhler winning over Andy Haus, Tim Smith Jr., Mike Lupfer and Rance Garlock. Eric Irvin won the econo late models over JR Toner, Dillan Stake, Derrick Garman and Andrew Yoder.

Mark Smith of Sunbury won the 360 Sprint car feature at Selinsgrove Speedway. Eric Tomecek, Davie Franek, Chad Layton and Nate Snyder completed the top five. In the late model feature, it was Hayes Mattern getting the win. Jeff Rine, Ken Trevitz, Gene Knaub and Bryan Bernheisel completed the top five. Dustin Snook won the pro stocks and Bob Bussey won the roadrunners.

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