CHICO, Calif. – March 23, 2012 – With bragging rights on the line between the World of Outlaws and the California contingent, Friday’s main event couldn’t have set up any better.
Donny Schatz, a four-time World of Outlaws champion and the current points leader, and two-time King of California Jonathan Allard started on the front row of the 35-lap feature during Night 1 of the Mini Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway.
Schatz capitalized on a good start and led wire to wire en route to picking up his second victory of the season. It also gave the Outlaws a 2-to-1 edge in wins versus Californians this season in the state of California.
“Tonight we started up front and maintained,” Schatz said after extending his points lead to 20. “We’re not 100 percent where we are comfortable with the car and all the stuff yet. To have two wins in this position at this time of the year and to not be 100 percent confident in what we’ve got going on yet is pretty good.”
Schatz took advantage of the qualifying invert, which started him on the pole of his heat race after timing in 15th quickest. He led all 10 laps to lock himself into the dash. Kraig Kinser, who set quick time with a lap of 12.458 seconds, randomly pulled the No. 6 to invert the first three rows of the dash. That moved Schatz to the pole of the dash and he again led the entirety of the eight-lap race to earn the pole for the feature.
“That dash draw always helps,” he said. “Starting up there on the inside was great.”
Meanwhile, Allard won his heat race from the outside front row to lock himself into the dash, where he started outside Schatz. The duo stayed within a couple car lengths of each other for most of the race with Schatz edging Allard for the top spot and the inside lane – which was the preferred spot – for the start of the main event.
“I just fell in behind Donny and tried to learn something,” Allard said. “I’ve been known for not managing my tires as well as we could have, but the Goodyears lasted, we came home with second and we’re very proud of that.”
The race featured only two cautions – on lap 24 when 10th-running Kyle Larson spun out in turn two and on the final lap when Robbie Whitchurch stopped exiting turn four – as Schatz maintained a comfortable pace on the quarter-mile track that favored the bottom.
“You just had to be cautious not to spin your tires and slip up out of that bottom groove,” Schatz said. “There wasn’t a lot of moving around. There were guys trying things, but just couldn’t make anything work. You had to be on the bottom of the race track, right on the gutter. As long as I stayed there and tried to keep from making a mistake, I was going to be ok.”
And he never pulled within a car length of lapped traffic.
“I was hoping maybe Donny would get into traffic, but he was too smart to do that,” Allard said after his runner-up finish.
Starting in the second row, veteran Outlaws driver Joey Saldana and defending King of California Tim Kaeding duked it out for the final podium position. Saldana edged Kaeding, who had claimed two of the previous three World of Outlaws features.
That moved Saldana to second in the points, while Kaeding’s result was his fourth consecutive top-six finish.
Steve Kinser rounded out the top five. Kraig Kinser was sixth, Lucas Wolfe seventh, Bill Rose placed a season-high eighth and Jason Sides ended ninth. Last Chance Showdown winner Jac Haudenschild picked up his first top 10 of the season.
In addition to Schatz and Allard, Cody Darrah and Saldana earned heat race wins. Trey Starks claimed the KSE Hard Charger Award for the second straight race.