BARBERVILLE, Fla. – Feb. 19, 2012 – Craig Dollansky emerged from his World of Outlaws sprint car and shared the sentiments felt by most of the teams, crew and spectators.
“This was a long day,” he said. “It was two nights of racing in one day.”
Dollansky capped a World of Outlaws doubleheader on Sunday at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., by outlasting Donny Schatz, who started on the pole and had won every race he had been in all day. Schatz claimed the afternoon feature, which had been delayed since Friday because of rain.
It was also the final event for the sprint car portion of the 41st annual UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment, which was claimed by Sammy Swindell.
In the nightcap on Sunday, Dollansky entered the 25-lap feature on the outside front row – next to Schatz, who swept the afternoon event and claimed his heat race and the dash prior to feature.
The duo raced side by side – Schatz on the bottom and Dollansky in the high groove against the wall – for nearly a full lap before Dollansky got the edge coming to the flagstand on the opening lap. He maintained the lead while Schatz remained within striking distance for the first dozen laps.
On lap 13, the leaders entered lapped traffic. Three laps later, Schatz rocketed off the bottom in turn two to take the lead only to see Dollansky capitalize on his momentum and regain the top spot entering turn three.
“I had opportunities; I did pass him I think once coming out of (turn) two, got underneath him once going into (turn) three,” Schatz said. “We were there. Every time we got to him he was able to get a little better.”
David Gravel, who picked up his first career World of Outlaws feature victory last season, joined the mix in the final 10 laps. The top three were separated by a total of a half-dozen car lengths for several laps, and Gravel and Schatz exchanged the runner-up position with two laps remaining.
“We really started catching them there at the end,” Gravel said after finishing third. “I thought we really had something and then it started taking rubber on the bottom. Those last few laps it was pretty much just one lane.”
One bobble would have cost any of the drivers in the closing laps, but Dollansky was smooth and protected the bottom of the track to pick up his first World of Outlaws victory of the season and second sprint car win of the week.
“Once I settled in and just tried to watch our line and watch the bottom, I felt pretty comfortable at that point,” he said.
Schatz finished a close second – less than seven-tenths behind Dollansky.
“I think my best chance was actually on the last lap there on the bottom,” Schatz said. “I needed him to make a mistake. I thought he was going to. He did the lap before and I got a good run on him. I really thought I was going to get that opportunity on the last lap, which would have been a pretty exciting finish for us.”
Kraig Kinser finished fourth and Swindell was fifth.
He received a unique four-foot trophy shaped like an alligator for being the overall sprint car champion. He finished the week with three top fives, four top 10s and an average feature finish of 6.6.
“You just have to be consistent every day,” he said. “I’d like to have some wins, but we were competitive every night.”
Dale Blaney, Danny Lasoski, Jason Sides, Joey Saldana and Danny Smith rounded out the top 10, respectively.
Brad Sweet, Gravel, Schatz and Swindell each won a heat race and Daryn Pittman was the fastest in qualifying with a lap of 14.294 seconds. He also won the Last Chance Showdown.
The next World of Outlaws race is scheduled for March 8 at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas in Las Vegas.
Tickets for the rest of the 41st annual UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit can be ordered online by clicking WorldofOutlaws.com/tickets, by calling 877-395-8606 or purchased at the track.