Schatz photo by Mike Spieker.
Donny Schatz and Brad Seng were the big winners in NLRA action last week, with Schatz scoring wins at the Red River Co-op and River Cities Speedways, and Seng tallying another win at the Devils Lake Speedway.
On Thursday night at the Red River Co-op Speedway in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Donny Schatz parked the No. 15 Fargo Petro Rocket in victory lane.
Schatz had no competitive laps going into the event, having seen the speedway only once before. That came back in 1996 when, as the Wissota national 360 Sprint Car point leader, Schatz lost an engine in hot laps, ending his night early.
Schatz and Mike Balcaen, driver of the No. 10 Enns Brothers Black Diamond, started on the pole, but it was third starting Don Shaw who won the drag race down the front stretch, in the No. 42S All State Peterbilt Victory, to take the lead.
As Balcaen, Schatz, and Shane Edginton, driver of the No. 4 Schill Construction Victory, settled into the second through fourth spots, Bill Mooney in the No. 2 OMG Candy MasterSbilt by JMR, Cole Schill, and Dustin Strand duked it out for fifth.
A caution with four laps complete re-stacked the field, as Schatz took second on the restart, and stalked Shaw for the lead, eventually taking the spot on lap ten. Schatz pulled away and started making his way through traffic a couple circuits later.
The next caution came out with twelve laps complete. Cole Schill, in the No. 44 Mid Ag Dispatch MasterSbilt by JMR, and Ricky Weiss, driving the No. 7 AIE Communications Bloomquist, moved into the top five on the ensuing restart.
Schatz wasted no time building a straightaway lead, catching the back of the field again with eight laps to go. At the same time, Schill and Balcaen made contact, causing the latter to head pit side with a flat tire.
Donny Schatz in victory lane at the Red River Co-op Speedway last Thursday night.
During the caution for Balcaen and Schill, Don Shaw started to have a tire fail him as well, but he was able to make both of the following restarts. The field went single file, with Schatz again able to re-establish a commanding lead. Schill and Weiss took advantage of Shaw's rapidly de-inflating tire, as the trio went three-wide down the front stretch with six to go.
Shaw's tire went completely flat with two laps remaining, as Schatz continued on to victory. Schill came home second, with Weiss, Edginton, and Brad Seng, driver of the No. 12S S&S Transport MB Custom, rounding out the top five.
Dustin Strand was sixth in the No. 71 Q&Z Plumbing & Heating Millenium, with Rick Fawcett seventh in the No. 71 Fawcett Auto Body MasterSbilt by JMR, and Kevin Sexton eighth in the No. 57 DAB's Repair Bloomquist.
Dave Smith was ninth in the No. 06 DC Signs Capital, and Shane Holden rounded out the top ten in the No. 11 JMS Motorsports Rocket. Smith was the hard charger, moving up from 23rd. Schatz, Shaw, and Balcaen won the heats, 24 cars were in attendance.
Ricky Weiss, Dustin Strand and Donny Schatz go three wide at River Cities on Friday night. Mike Spieker photo.
Friday night at the River Cities Speedway, Donny Schatz was the winner for the third time in NLRA competition, and fourth time in his career with the series.
Brandon Fuller, driver of the No. F9 Goldmark MB Custom, and Zach Naastad in the No. Z17 Q&Z Plumbing & Heating Millenium, lead the field to the green, with the latter leading the opening circuit. Weiss, Strand, and Schatz moved into second through fourth on lap two.
The first of many cautions came on lap three, as Bill Mooney and Travis Robertson, driver of the No. 1R The Bowler MasterSbilt, got together in turn two, also collecting Mike Balcaen. A seven car pileup in turn two on the restart re-stacked the field again, only this time Weiss assumed the lead as Naastad headed pit side during the caution.
Weiss, Strand, and Schatz continued their battle for the top spot, going three wide after another restart with twelve complete. Schatz rolling the bottom took the lead off of turn four with nine remaining.
One final caution flag flew with four remaining. Brad Seng took third on the ensuing restart, as Schatz took the first of his two victories for the evening. Schatz went on to take the lead from Brad Sweet on lap 19 to win the World of Outlaws Sprint Car feature, winning both the NLRA and WoO races for the second time in his career, a feat he first completed at River Cities in August 2013.
Weiss was second, with Seng third, Strand fourth, and Edginton rounding out the top five.
Tom Corcoran was sixth in the No. T1 D&B Motors MB Custom, with Dave Smith seventh, and Jeff Hapala eighth in the No. 16S Graphic Creations MasterSbilt by JMR. Troy Schill, driver of the No. 11 Forks Finest Auto Body Swartz, and Robert Bladow, driver of the No. 00 A Primitive Place Bloomquist, rounded out the top ten.
Hapala was the hard charger, improving 16 spots from 24th. Weiss, Fuller, and Naastad won the heats, 26 cars took on the 'Bullring' on Friday night.
Finally on Saturday night, the series made it's way west to the Devils Lake Speedway, where Brad Seng was the winner for the 35th time in series history.
Seng and Weiss shared the front row at the start, with Seng taking the lead. The man on the move during the majority of the event was Matt Smith, driver of the No. 86 Polar Industries Capital.
Smith started in the 18th position, and climbed all the way up to tenth after a back and forth battle with Adam Fischer in the No. 30 Northwest Auto Body Rocket.
Matt Smith charged from 18th to fifth on Saturday at Devils Lake, for a career best finish with the NLRA.
Balcaen was sixth, with Mueller seventh, and Edginton eighth. Rookie Brody Troftgruben, driver of the No. 14 R&R Dirt & Gravel Rocket, scored the best finish of his rookie season by finishing ninth. Jeff Hapala rounded out the top ten.
Snare, Weiss, and Seng were the heat winners, 20 cars showed up for the event.
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