Schatz unstoppable at Archerfield
There are plenty of American Sprintcar drivers competing on Australian soil at the moment, but only Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway can genuinely lay claim to hosting the very best of them, evidence of which was in abundance on Saturday night (December 28) when 10-time World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz dished up a dazzling demonstration of his sublime skills to win round eight of the East Coast Logistics Track Championship. Despite starting from position 14 after accepting the BK Trading Challenge to invert the field, Schatz had moved to the front by half race distance and left the field in his wake to clinch his second consecutive feature race win. As was the case in the previous round just 48 hours earlier, Luke Oldfield proved to be Schatz’s biggest threat throughout the night and would advance from the sixth row to finish third behind Cody Maroske, who took maximum advantage of the good fortune that the inversion bestowed upon him to score his best result thus far for the Erhart Motorsport team. Series leader Kevin Titman was solid again in finishing fourth, as was Callum Walker in fifth, with Bryan Mann bouncing back from a spin to snare sixth ahead of Brent Kratzmann, Andrew Scheuerle, Mick Sauer and Dan Murray.
In the final round of the Super Sedan Summer Slam, national champ Matt Pascoe delivered another dominant display to win a 30-lap feature race that ran without interruption and in which all 22 starters were still running at the fall of the chequer. Sean Black finished in second spot ahead of Justin Randall, who edged ahead of Matt Williams in the final laps. The first of the interstaters was Tyson Moon in fifth spot, followed by Gary Higgs, Daryl Moon and David Musch, with Nicholas O’Keefe and Wayne Randall rounding out the top ten.
It was New South Wales drivers who dominated the results in Wingless Sprints, with Dave Eggins leading home Kevin Willis, Dan Evans, Michael Butcher and Jamie Usher
Tyler Stralow continued his strong season with another Lightning Sprint feature race win, downing Dave Fanning and Keith Blatch on this occasion.
In RSA Sedan action, Michael Taylor led home a family trifecta in the Outlaw class, while Ricky Price prevailed in the Limited ranks over Luke Gray and Josh Boyd.
The first step to what would ultimately become a perfect score for Schatz came in time trial qualifying when he stopped the clock at 11.986 to secure KRE Quick Time as the only driver to drop under 12 seconds. Mann was second best with 12.063, followed by Oldfield (12.196), Kratzmann (12.212) and another impressive performance from Tim Farrell (12.237), with Brock Dean, Scheuerle, Nicholas Whell, Kristy Bonsey and Dan Murray completing the first ten.
Starting seventh in the opening heat, Schatz had assumed the lead after six circulations and would finish three seconds clear of Brodie Tulloch, with Allan Woods third home.
Maroske was untroubled from pole position in winning heat two in advance of Sauer as Mann advanced to third from the back of the pack.
Heat three was also won from the front row as Titman kept the hard charging Oldfield at bay, with Callum Walker third.
The Schatz masterclass continued in heat four when he again came from the fourth row to win, this time with Scheuerle in pursuit as they relegated Tulloch to third on this occasion.
Another front row start for Maroske brought another win in heat five as Oldfield again advanced into second spot, with Woods third on this occasion.
When Sauer shot into the lead of the final preliminary, he would have been hoping that his run of second-place heat race finishes was about to end and, whilst that was ultimately the case, it wasn’t in the manner he would have preferred as both Walker and Britten would make their way past to leave him third at the flag.
Tulloch bolted in the B Main, clearing away from the field to finish more than four seconds clear of Sauer and Brock Dean, who had whacked the wall in his opening heat, leaving Britten to snare the final transfer spot into the feature race, although Libby Ellis would also be granted a start in the main event.
The Bronze round of the Pole Shootout resulted in Kratzmann and Woods advancing to the next stage as elimination befell both Farrell and the over-achieving Bonsey who would unfortunately exit the feature without completing a lap. Woods continued his progress in the Silver round, climbing above Kratzmann and Mann to join Scheuerle in moving into the final showdown. For a moment, it looked as though Scheuerle might have the Gold round in his keeping, only for Schatz to snatch provisional pole position in his final lap against the clock, the only person to run a sub-14 second lap on a track that had slickened considerably but afforded multiple lanes.
With Schatz opting to accept the $2500 bonus and five extra laps on offer for the BK Trading Challenge, the inverted grid would plant Titman on pole position for what would now be a 40-lap feature race. Ryan McNamara found himself promoted to the outside front row, with Maroske and Murray to launch from row two ahead of Whell, Walker, Bonsey, Farrell, Mann, Kratzmann, Oldfield, Woods, Scheuerle, Schatz and the transferees from the B Main. Schatz wasted no time in surging forward, advancing six spots on the opening lap as McNamara bested Titman to lead the field away. After 10 laps, McNamara continued to lead from Titman and Maroske, but Schatz was now fourth and closing in. When Kevin Britten clobbered the turn four concrete on lap 14, the ensuing restart saw Schatz pounce to pass Titman and Maroske and advance to second spot. With McNamara still leading, the race was halted again on lap 20 when Mann, Kratzmann and Oldfield tangled in turn four, although the latter was somehow able to escape without stopping as the others found themselves at the rear of the field for the restart. The inevitable occurred soon after the resumption when Schatz pouncing to usurp McNamara, who subsequently threw away a potential podium when he spun in turn one to earn himself a rear-of-field placement for the restart. Titman moved to second spot as a result, with Maroske third and Oldfield now fourth ahead of Walker, Murray, Scheuerle, Farrell, Woods and Tulloch. With Schatz charging away into the distance, Maroske moved ahead of Titman and Oldfield followed soon after, with Walker holding firm in fifth. At the chequer, Schatz was more than four seconds clear of Maroske, Oldfield, Titman and Walker. A big charge back through the field would carry Mann into sixth ahead of Kratzmann and Scheuerle, with Sauer and Murray rounding out the top ten. Woods was next best and the last car on the lead lap, leaving Dean, Farrell, McNamara and Ellis as the remaining finishers. A solid run from Tulloch ended on lap 32 when he joined Whell, Britten and Bonsey on the infield.
The Super Sedan heats produced some of the best racing seen from the category in recent times and the night started with a nice moment as 17-year-old Zac Pascoe rounded up early leader Phil Barton to score his first ever heat win with his father Matt finishing second ahead of Sean Black.
Kyall Fisher produced plenty of pace to lead much of heat two before succumbing to Higgs with two laps to run, with Justin Randall finishing in third spot.
Bob McCosker was the early leader in heat three before Wayne Randall assumed control to take the race. Williams charged from the back to grab second in advance of Nicholas O’Keefe as McCosker fell to fourth.
In a scenario that proved almost identical to the previous contest, Colin Kaine led through the opening laps of heat four before backsliding to fourth as Daryl Moon made his way to the front to defeat David Musch and Higgs.
Tyson Moon would then emulate his father’s effort in taking out heat five ahead of Justin Randall and Michael Hally, while a moment of madness would prove costly for Fisher when he found himself banished to the infield after a clash with Ed Doherty.
The final heat of the night saw Black emerge victorious ahead of Williams and Matt Pascoe.
Wayne Randall and Musch were the first eliminated from the pole shootout as Justin Randall and Daryl Moon advanced from the Bronze round to take on Matt Pascoe and Higgs. The Silver showdown saw Randall advance again, joined by Pascoe on this occasion, who would then go on to secure pole position. Williams was second quickest ahead of Black and Randall.
Given what transpired in the heats, it was surprising that so few drivers were prepared to take advantage of a race track offering up the multiple racing lines that the Sprintcar competitors utilised to such great effect. From pole position, Matt Pascoe was untroubled for the duration of the 30 laps and cruised home to score his second feature race win in 24 hours. With only Williams, Wayne Randall and Zac Pascoe willing to spend any significant time off the pole line, the field behind Pascoe ran in single file with Black and Williams leading the pack. In fact, the only changes at the front of the field came late in proceedings, the first of which saw Tyson Moon advance to fifth ahead of Higgs on lap 22. Then, with just two laps to run, Justin Randall found a way under Williams to snatch third behind Black to replicate the podium results from the previous night in Gympie. Williams and Tyson Moon completed the first five ahead of Higgs and Daryl Moon, with Musch, O’Keefe, Wayne Randall, Fisher and Pascoe Jnr next in line. Hally, McCosker, Barton, Doherty, Kaine, Gary Pagel, Craig Hammond, Josh McLaren, Tony Brinkmann and Brendon Kelly completed the field.
Wingless Sprints were out in force and delivered some close racing in the heats, which saw wins shared around between Eggins, Willis, Evans, Usher, Liam Atkinson and Robert Mazzer.
Come feature race time though, Eggins was a cut above the rest and led all 20 laps with a minimum of fuss. Willis was similarly untroubled in finishing second, with third-placed Evans the only Queenslander inside the top five. Butcher and Usher were next best ahead of Casey O’Connell, Mitch Bootland, Mazzer, Brock Gardiner and Dave Ellis.
Lightning Sprint heat wins went the way of Keith Blatch, Jason George and Dave Fanning before Tyler Stralow trumped them all to take out the 15-lap feature race. Having accumulated a series of feature race successes in Queensland and interstate over the last few months, this would be the first such success for Stralow at Archerfield this season. Following a spin early in the race while running second, Fanning fought his way back through the field to find himself again in the runner-up position at the fall of the flag, rounding up Blatch on the final lap to do so. George and Danny Stone were next best, followed home by Wayne Iacono, Dave Collins, Scott Jukes, James Elliott and Jason Rae.
The RSA Outlaw Sedan feature ended in somewhat farcical fashion with Michael Taylor the only driver to go the full distance, finishing a lap clear of Daniel Taylor and Scott Taylor. Thankfully, the Limited Sedan feature produced a much closer result as Price edged out Gray and Boyd after a race-long scrap, with Adrian Browne and Greg Trezise filling out the first five.
Racing continues at Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway on Wednesday night (January 1) with round nine of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship featuring Donny Schatz. Californian Sprintcar gun Dominic Scelzi was also scheduled to appear but has had to cancel his Australian trip due to an illness in the family. However, the meeting will feature US-based Australian Dirt Modified star Peter Britten in the Paul Britten Memorial 44, the most prestigious non-championship race on the annual Dirt Modified schedule. Also on the program will be another big field of AMCA Nationals, plus RSA Sedans and Ford vs Holden vs Sigma sedans.