JACKSON, MN — When big money is on the line, Donny Schatz and the Tony Stewart Racing No.15 team find an extra gear and that was the case on the final night of the AGCO Jackson Nationals at Jackson Motorplex. Schatz came from seventh and prevented a Jason Johnson sweep of the weekend, overtaking the Eunice, LA native on Lap 18 to capture the $40,000 prize. Johnson was resilient but settled for second with Brian Brown completing the podium.
After winning the first two nights of the AGCO Jackson Nationals, Jason Johnson won the Sears Craftsman Dash, earning the pole for the 40-lap Feature.
The Feature got off to a bumpy start with Ian Madsen bicycling in turn one and coming to a stop with rear end damage. Jason Johnson got the jump on the start and led the opening two laps before the lone Red Flag on the evening flew after Daryn Pittman received contact while running in the top five and slowed significantly into turn one leaving Cory Eliason nowhere to go, ending both of their evenings.
On the ensuing restart, Donny Schatz charged up to second only to be negated by a caution for Brad Sweet, who came to a stop backwards in turn two while running third. Sweet was able to make repairs and return to the rear of the field.
When action resumed, Johnson continued to lead as Schatz disposed of Brian Brown for second and set his eyes on Johnson.
Johnson continued to set a torrid pace on the cushion and reached lapped traffic by Lap 8. The majority of the slower cars were on the cushion, slowing Johnson’s pace and allowing the Nine-Time Series Champion to close in. Schatz began reeling in Johnson and made his move underneath for the lead on Lap 18. Once he took command, it was clear Schatz was the class of the field.
The final caution of the night flew on Lap 24, bunching the field together, putting Johnson on Schatz bumper. Schatz motored away on the restart and was proficient in traffic.
Johnson stayed with Schatz as the duo navigated traffic as rubber became more prominent on the racing surface. Johnson took a brief look underneath Schatz entering turn one with less than 5 laps to go and continued to close back in, crossing the line .637 seconds behind the Fargo, ND driver.
Schatz, who described himself as non-existent during the first two nights, came into the evening 11th in Jackson Nationals points and started the Feature from 7th.
“This race team is what the difference is,” Schatz said in Victory Lane when prompted about the improvement throughout the weekend. “We changed up a lot of little things and I felt as good as I have all weekend during Hot Laps tonight and it showed then and now,” Schatz added.
“This is awesome. The improvements here to the facility, grandstands and racing surface are amazing,” Schatz said after the race.
Jason Johnson finished second in the big one but established a new level of speed for his team during the AGCO Jackson Nationals. “When it comes to big races, Donny isn’t going to make any mistakes. Hats off to the track crew all weekend dealing with all the rain and thanks to everyone in the stands for sticking it out,” Johnson said.
Brian Brown completed the podium and echoed both Schatz and Johnson’s statements about the job Jackson Motorplex did this weekend. “This is an awesome event, they gave us a great track all weekend. We were pretty good,” Brown said before thanking the large Jackson crowd.
David Gravel finished fourth with Logan Schuchart completing the top five. Dominic Scelzi scored KSE Hard Charger honors coming from the Last Chance Showdown to finish 14th, although it was Brad Sweet putting on the passing clinic, charging back to seventh after going to the rear on Lap 2.
The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series continues its 40th Anniversary Season with a doubleheader in North Dakota starting Friday at River Cities Speedway and concluding Sunday at Nodak Speedway in Minot, ND. If you can’t make it to the track, be sure to watch every lap LIVE on DIRTVision.com!
-World of Outlaws Press Release
-Photo credit: World of Outlaws Twitter