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Wayne Nelson / Forum News Service, Published August 17 2013

Fargo driver Schatz has big night at Grand Forks track

GRAND FORKS – Donny Schatz unquestionably is the best sprint car driver in the country this season.

But he did something late Friday night at River Cities Speedway that even surprised him.

He won twice, first winning the supporting late model feature before dominating the 40-lap World of Outlaws sprint feature in front of 6,000 fans – a crowd believed to be the biggest in the history of the quarter-mile bullring.

“It’s kind of unbelievable,” Schatz said. “It’s so surreal. To come here for a World of Outlaws show and win a late model feature against guys like Joey Pederson, Brad Seng and Pat Doar, that’s awesome. Then to go out and win the Outlaws feature … it probably won’t sink in for a while. Just like last week when it took a while for the Knoxville Nationals (win) to sink in.”

A week after Schatz won his seventh Nationals – the Super Bowl of sprint racing – the Fargo driver came to RCS and put on one of the more dominating performances in the history of the track.

The late model feature came down to the last lap when Schatz, who started on the front row, passed Pederson for the win as the drivers had to handle lapped traffic during a 20-lap race that went the distance without a yellow flag.

Schatz then jumped in his sprint car and turned in one of the more commanding performances since the WoO started racing at RCS in 2007.

Schatz started on the pole and won by 2.236 seconds over Cody Darrah, who won the June WoO race at RCS. Schatz also turned in the fastest lap in the feature at 10.862 seconds. No other driver managed to complete a lap in less than 11 seconds.

Schatz, who won $10,000, led all 40 laps on one of the fastest racing surfaces ever at RCS. The race also went green to checkered without a yellow flag.

“The race track was so fast and wet,” said Schatz. “I really didn’t think it was going to be my gig tonight.”

Schatz was in lapped traffic on Lap 5 and surgically maneuvered through lapped cars the rest of the way while distancing himself from Darrah, who had the top qualifying time of the night at 9.966 seconds. Daryn Pittman finished third, followed by NASCAR driver Brad Sweet and Craig Dollansky.

“It was such a fast pace out there,” Schatz said. “I didn’t know if it would ever slow down. We went to the bottom, to the top, wherever lapped cars weren’t going. Guys were racing hard all over.

“This is the fastest feature I can remember here. It was fast all night long.”

Schatz had only one scare, on Lap 36 when he and Bill Rose made contact in Turn 2. Both, however, made it through the corner.

Nelson is the sports editor of the Grand Forks Herald