Stewart wins in debut at Lakeside Speedway

Shane Stewart showed the emotion of a first time winner Friday night at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.

He bathed in confetti, waved the checkered flag with glee and smiled with pride for every photograph.

However, it was his 36th career World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victory and his second of the 2020 season. What made it one of his most prized victories is he won driving for his late friend Jason Johnson’s team.

Stewart made his debut in the Jason Johnson Racing #41 car at Lakeside, sporting a red throwback scheme that resembled Johnson’s Knoxville Nationals winning car and kept it up front all night, leading every lap in the feature.

“What’re the odds of just throwing a guy in car with a team he hasn’t worked with ever and go out and win an Outlaw race,” said Stewart, of Bixby, Oklahoma. “It just shows how well prepared this (JJR) race team is. It hasn’t sunk in yet. It probably won’t for a couple of days.”

Stewart and the team spent the early half of Friday getting his seat and seat belts fitted in the car, but Stewart felt at home the second he fired up the Mesilla Valley Transportation No. 41.

They unloaded with speed, qualifying seventh to start the night. Stewart then finished second in his Drydene Heat Race, placing him in the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash. With the luck of drawing the dash pole, he went on to win the 6-lap race and claim the pole for the 30-lap feature.

“Man, I’ve been in so many different cars now,” said Stewart, who has driven for five different teams in 2020. “I know measurements and where my seat needs to be to be comfortable. And it was close. You put your seat in and you change your belts, you really don’t know where you’re going to be until you start it. Once I started it, I knew I was going to be OK.”

When the feature commenced, Stewart drag raced second-place Daryn Pittman to Turn 1. On entrance, Pittman went high while Stewart hammered his car down into the corner and slid up in front of Pittman by the exit of Turn 2. From then on, Stewart left everyone else to fight for second as he pulled away.

Sheldon Haudenschild made an early run at Pittman for the runner-up spot before fading late in the race. The hunter among the prey for the majority of the race was “The Big Cat” Brad Sweet. The reigning champion and current points leader wasted little time navigating through the field of cars in front of him. He was in the top-10 by Lap 2. He found the top-five by Lap 12. And then made his way to the podium by Lap 14.

Two cautions in that time frame helped Sweet make quick work on his charge forward. They also highlighted the strength of Stewart’s car, which rocketed ahead of the field each restart.

With three laps to go, Sweet found another gear. He passed Pittman for second and closed to within a car length of Stewart on the final lap.

However, with his emotions in check, Stewart hit his marks and held off Sweet to claim the win.

“I knew if someone was going to beat me tonight that they would have to have an exceptionally good car,” Stewart said. You just don’t get cars like that very often. I know why this team is fast. I’ve chased this (#41 car) a lot. In many different cars I’ve chased this car. Hats off to this (JJR) group. You can see they work together so well… Man what an honor to win for Jason and Bobbi (Johnson) and (crew chief) Philip (Dietz).”

With a runner-up finish, Sweet earned his first podium finish in five races.

“I didn’t quite do a good enough job,” said Sweet, of Grass Valley, California. “We’ve got to do a little bit better to get this NAPA Auto Parts car back in Victory Lane. My guys gave me a great race car for the [Feature]. We just need to get a little better track position and I think we would’ve had a car to win tonight.”

He gained two points on his closest championship contender Logan Schuchart, who finished third after Pittman had a rear end issue on the final lap and fell to 16th. For the Shark Racing driver, it’s his second top-five finish in a row, but he’s again left wondering if it could’ve been better with a higher starting position.

“Just need to start up front,” said Schuchart, of Hanover, Pennsylvania. “We’ve been so fast but coming from the back a lot. That 49 car is hard to beat. Just need to start up front. Great run. Nice to be on the podium.”

Stewart helped closed the points gap in the team championship with his win – JJR’s seventh win of 2020 – putting the team only eight points behind leader Kasey Kahne Racing. He’ll look to do so again on Saturday at Lake Ozark Speedway for the $15,000-to-win Jason Johnson Classic and win another race in Johnson’s honor.

“Our goal is to try and win that race tomorrow on behalf of Jason and it would be really special to sweep the weekend, but that’s hard to do,” Stewart said. “But what a win. What a win for me. It means a lot.”

The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, on Saturday, Oct. 17, returns to Lake Ozark Speedway in Eldon, Missouri, for the $15,000-to-win Jason Johnson Classic. For ticket information, visit https://worldofoutlaws.com/schedule/?tickets=All

Results

NOS Energy Drink Feature (30 Laps) – 1. 41-Shane Stewart [1][$10,000]; 2. 49-Brad Sweet [13][$5,500]; 3. 1S-Logan Schuchart [9][$3,200]; 4. 14S-Tim Kaeding [3][$2,800]; 5. 9-James McFadden [10][$2,500]; 6. 14-David Gravel [17][$2,300]; 7. 2M-Kerry Madsen [7][$2,200]; 8. 15-Donny Schatz [14][$2,100]; 9. 71-Parker Price-Miller [15][$2,050]; 10. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [4][$2,000]; 11. 21-Brian Brown [19][$1,500]; 12. 2-Carson Macedo [5][$1,200]; 13. 21X-Christopher Bell [8][$1,100]; 14. 7BC-Tyler Courtney [11][$1,050]; 15. 1A-Jacob Allen [6][$1,000]; 16. 72-Daryn Pittman [2][$900]; 17. 7S-Jason Sides [21][$800]; 18. 55-Hunter Schuerenberg [23][$800]; 19. 83-Dominic Scelzi [24][$800]; 20. 3-Ayrton Gennetten [16][$800]; 21. 87-Aaron Reutzel [20][$800]; 22. 18-Gio Scelzi [18][$800]; 23. 11-Ian Madsen [12][$800]; 24. 26-Cory Eliason [22][$800]; Lap Leaders: Shane Stewart 1-30; KSE Hard Charger Award: 49-Brad Sweet[+11]
Qualifying – 1. 1A-Jacob Allen, 13.613; 2. 14S-Tim Kaeding, 13.638; 3. 72-Daryn Pittman, 13.641; 4. 21X-Christopher Bell, 13.647; 5. 2-Carson Macedo, 13.717; 6. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild, 13.719; 7. 41-Shane Stewart, 13.727; 8. 2M-Kerry Madsen, 13.729; 9. 1S-Logan Schuchart, 13.731; 10. 18-Gio Scelzi, 13.734; 11. 71-Parker Price-Miller, 13.751; 12. 11-Ian Madsen, 13.763; 13. 49-Brad Sweet, 13.768; 14. 9-James McFadden, 13.773; 15. 7BC-Tyler Courtney, 13.774; 16. 3-Ayrton Gennetten, 13.859; 17. 14-David Gravel, 13.866; 18. 15-Donny Schatz, 13.885; 19. 7S-Jason Sides, 13.893; 20. 55-Hunter Schuerenberg, 13.909; 21. 26-Cory Eliason, 13.92; 22. 2C-Wayne Johnson, 13.921; 23. 21-Brian Brown, 13.965; 24. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 14.007; 25. 83-Dominic Scelzi, 14.05; 26. 99-Skylar Gee, 14.135; 27. 24-Terry McCarl, 14.167; 28. 27-Tucker Klaasmeyer, 14.171; 29. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 14.184; 30. 35-Skylar Prochaska, 14.228; 31. 6-Bill Rose, 14.262; 32. 33M-Mason Daniel, 14.548; 33. 9W-Chris Morgan, 14.82; 34. O5-Colin Smith, 15.068; 35. 101-Wyatt Burks, 15.171; 36. 17A-Austin McCarl, 15.55.

Look for World of Outlaws competition Friday night at Lakeside Speedway in KCK

Friday night at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, will feature Donny Schatz of the Tony Stewart – Curb-Agajanian Racing team going after the World of Outlaws title.

Schatz, a ten-time World of Outlaws champion from Fargo, North Dakota, said he and his Tony Stewart – Curb-Agajanian Racing team have seen ups and downs this season.

At times throughout the year they’ve struggled to find consistency or even the top 10. Now, they’re working to make the climb back up. And they’re doing it just in time for Schatz to go after his 11th World of Outlaws championship.

With two wins in the last three weeks – one being his sixth National Open title – Schatz has strong armed his way back into the championship hunt, currently sitting 68 points behind leader Brad Sweet.

“I’m actually really excited,” Schatz said. “With the year we’ve had, and it feels like the majority of the races we weren’t in the hunt at all, or didn’t have a chance, and here we are. We find ourselves still in a position to go after a championship. We’ve come to life a little bit. That’s refreshing as well.

“For 15 years I’ve been in a championship hunt. You don’t ever want to lose that. Here we are. We find ourselves in that again and feeling damn good about it. If we win it, great. If we don’t, we’re not going to hang our heads. It’s been a trying year for everyone. There’s a lot of races we’re going to miss out on because of this COVID stuff. We’ll just do our best to see where we end up.”

Starting this weekend at Lakeside Speedway and Lake Ozark Speedway for the $15,000-to-win Jason Johnson Classic, he has five more chances to complete his climb back to the top in 2020 with the year ending Nov. 5-7 at the Can-Am World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.

“There are a handful of race tracks that we go to that we might be looking for the rain cloud over head but Lake Ozark and [Lakeside Speedway] aren’t anywhere near those tracks,” Schatz said.

He picked up his second win at Lake Ozark Speedway in May and last year he brought a Ford engine back to Victory Lane with the World of Outlaws for the first time in 21 years at Lakeside Speedway – his second win at the 4/10-mile speedway.

He won with the new FPS 410 in his third race with it and while he’s picked up five more wins with it under the hood this season, the continued development of the engine has created a few challenges.

“The thing people don’t realize is when you do this motor development, when things need changed, it’s not as easy has, hey, we take this off, go up in the trailer and drill a hole and move this and that,” Schatz said. “It doesn’t happen like that. We had to start with a block and heads and all of these things from the ground up. It’s all original still. It’s not just as easy as we need to change this. You can’t just do that with a cylinder head. It takes a casting change. We ran into a problem where we couldn’t get heads for 12 months because the foundry was closed. We had to change foundries. All of those things, they’re a long process.

“Twelve months without being able to work with the heads that we have, and we know what changes we need to make. We just can’t do it. We’re weeks away from having stuff that’s different but those weeks fell like eternity when you’ve known for months what needed to be changed. It’s just the way it works. It’s part of it. These guys have done a damn good job of overcoming that. We know the future is a lot brighter than what today is and that’s what keeps us going.”

Schatz could potentially see a few long-standing streaks come to an end this season. He would need to win the five remaining races to hit double digit wins this year. The last time he was unable to hit that mark was in 2011. For the past 14 years he’s finished first or second in points. At the moment, he’s third in points with a 36-point deficit to second-place Logan Schuchart.

However, he’s also been able to add to his record book by claiming his sixth National Open title at Williams Grove Speedway – the only driver with more than four National Opens – and is one victory away from a 300 career win milestone.

“It’s just like anything else,” Schatz said. “I think 2020 has been an eye opener for every person. For their health. For the economy. For politics. For everything.”

“I had someone ask me last week if I’m taking blood pressure medicine. I said, ‘No, I’m not taking blood pressure medicine.’ It’s an honor to be out here. We’ve worked hard to get ourselves in this position. We’re not currently in a position we want to be today, but we will be. And all we can do is work toward that. You have to get past it. You’ve got to spend some time in the trench to understand what the top of the mountain is like. We’ve done that. We’re trying to get ourselves back on the top where we feel like we want to be and where we belong.”

For tickets to the Lakeside Speedway event visit https://slspromotions.ticketforce.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=186.

(Story from Nick Graziano, World of Outlaws, worldofoutlaws.com/sprintcars/.)

Driver points

  1. Brad Sweet –
  2. Logan Schuchart -32
  3. Donny Schatz -68
  4. Sheldon Haudenschild -128
  5. Carson Macedo -216

Team points

  1. Kasey Kahne Racing –
  2. Jason Johnson Racing -12
  3. Shark Racing -32
  4. Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing -68
  5. Stenhouse Jr.-Marshall Racing -128

Remaining races
Oct. 16 – Lakeside Speedway
Oct. 17 – Jason Johnson Classic at Lake Ozark Speedway
Oct. 24 – Kokomo Speedway
Nov. 5-7 – Can-Am World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte

Lakeside Speedway to open season Sunday afternoon

Spring weather has caused cancellation of the usual Friday night opening at Lakeside Speedway, 5614 Wolcott Drive, Kansas City, Kan.

According to Lakeside officials, the new opening date is Sunday afternoon, March 30.

Races will start at 4 p.m. Sunday, with pit gates opening at 1:30 p.m., front gates at 2 p.m. and hot laps starting at 3:30 p.m.

Owner Mike Johnson said there will be many specials planned for this year’s events.

Johnson also owns I-35 Speedway in Winton, Mo., 10 miles north of Cameron, Mo., and the two USRA racetracks will be holding Border War competitions this year. 35 Speedway opens Saturday night.

Next week’s Lakeside race is scheduled Friday, April 4. On Friday, April 11, racing at Lakeside includes the U.S. Modified Touring Series. For more information, visit  www.lakesidespeedway.net.