Flag to Flag: Shane Stewart Dominates Hartford Speedway
by Tony Veneziano
HARTFORD, Mich. — September 21, 2016 — Shane Stewart knew that the initial start and any restarts would be crucial on Wednesday night at Hartford Speedway in Michigan, as the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series returned to the “Wicked Fast Half-Mile.” Stewart wound up mastering the initial start and a pair of double-file restarts en route to picking up his seventh A-Feature win and eighth overall triumph of the season. Stewart led all 25 laps of the event, which was originally postponed by rain back on July 29.
The veteran driver started on the outside of the front row in the main event and used a strong start to power his way past pole sitter Donny Schatz on the high side in turn two. Stewart quickly pulled away, after taking the lead, before the first caution flag of the night flew on the second lap.
“The starts and restarts were everything tonight, especially being beside the (No) 15 car,” said Stewart, who drives the Eneos machine for Larson Marks Racing. “I didn’t think I would get that good of a start on the initial start. I was off a little in the dash and we made some good changes to our Cool Chassis that brought it back to life for the feature. I can’t thank my crew enough. This team has been through some trying times this summer. To finally get on a little roll feels great. We have a few races left and some big races coming up that we want to run well at.”
Stewart had a close call coming off turn four on the eighth circuit, as he was about to enter lapped traffic, jumping the cushion and nearly getting sideways. He packed the right rear with mud in the process, which led to a strong vibration for the rest of the race. As the leaders negotiated lapped traffic, Schatz was able to close in on the 10th lap and stuck with Stewart in traffic for a few circuits.
“It was so dirty in the middle (of the track) that I figured if I spun my tires at all Donny (Schatz) would get a good run on me,” said Stewart. “If he could get along side of me in turn one, I knew he would slide me. It just worked out good for us. Sometimes those restarts work in your benefit and sometimes they don’t. Tonight we were able to get good, clean starts. When you race Donny, you know he is always going to give you enough room. He could have slid me up there on the initial start pretty heavily on the back straightaway and he never does. It’s always a joy and pleasure to race with him.”
Schatz had one final shot at Stewart on a lap-18 restart. He dove low in turns one and two, making a bid for the lead, but to no avail. Stewart was then able to pull away and again quickly open a several car length lead. Schatz ended up finishing second as he continues to chase his eighth series championship for his Bad Boy Off Road team.
“Shane was definitely better tonight,” said Schatz. “I knew we were going to be a little off the first couple laps. About eight laps in, I thought we would get going and just never did. It felt like the left rear was flat, but the tire is not flat. We have something going on there, but it was a respectable finish.”
After winning the Craftsman Club Dash, Schatz started on the pole for the 25-lap race, with Stewart to his outside. On each of the double-file restarts, Schatz lined up on the outside of the sprawling half-mile. For Schatz, the runner-up performance was his 53rdtop-five finish of the season.
“It was a fast track and you just had to get up there and hammer down,” Schatz noted. “We got on the bottom a few times and just weren’t able to finish the corner. I guess sometimes when you get going and something doesn’t feel quite right, it’s better to not push the issue, with how fast you are going around here and get yourself in trouble. We’ve definitely torn up enough stuff in the last month. It was a respectable finish for these guys and a great job. We’ll go on to Friday and try to win one.”
Tim Shaffer finished third to record his best World of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series finish of the season. The native of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania started sixth and gained a couple of spots on the opening lap. He then worked his way around Ian Madsen for the third position. At one point, Shaffer, Madsen and Daryn Pittman were three-wide, battling for the third spot.
“The team has given me great cars,” said Shaffer. “Cody Jacobs came along tonight and really turned the wrenches well and we were fast. We had three crew guys and they all did their job. It was up to me to do my job, too. You had to make something happen on the restart. The car was very good on the restarts. We got strung out a bit in open track, but everyone on the team did a great job.”
David Gravel finished fourth in the Big Game Treestands machine as he kept pace in the battle for the second spot in points. Pittman crossed the line fifth in the Great Clips No. 9 and holds a single-point advantage over Gravel. Brad Sweet was sixth aboard the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet car. Jason Sides worked his way from the 19th starting spot to finish seventh. Ian Madsen was eighth, followed by Joey Saldana in ninth and Jason Johnson rounding out the top-10.
The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series returns to action on Friday at the famed Eldora Speedway for the opening night of the Four Crown Nationals.
Hartford Speedway Raceway Notebook
RACE NOTES: Shane Stewart in the Larson Marks Racing machine fends off a late-race charge from Donny Schatz to lead all 25-laps at Hartford Speedway. The race got excited with just under 10-laps remaining when a great three-wide battle for third-place took shape between Brad Sweet, David Gravel, Daryn Pittman and Tim Schaffer. It was Schaffer winning that battle to round out the podium behind Stewart and Schatz as your top-three finishers. This win marks number seven on the 2016 World of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series for Stewart.
CONTINGENCY WINNERS: MSD Ignitions ($25 cash): Sheldon Haudenschild; MSD Ignitions ($50 cash): Shane Stewart; Penske Shocks ($50 cash): Donny Schatz; JE Pistons ($50 cash): Daryn Pittman; VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash): Joey Saldana; Comp Cams ($50 cash): Jason Johnson; Morton Buildings ($50 cash): Paul McMahan; Cometic Gasket ($50 cash): Logan Schuchart; Super Flow ($50 cash): Chase Ridenour; Craftsman Club Fast Five ($100 cash): Shane Stewart, Daryn Pittman, Logan Schuchart, Paul McMahan Craftsman/Sears: Ian Madsen; KSE Hard Charger: Jason Sides; Comp Cams ($50 product certificate): Shane Stewart JE Pistons (Set of Rings): Greg Wilson; JE Pistons (Set of Rings): Clyde Knipp.
SEASON WINNERS: Donny Schatz – 22 (Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 14, The Dirt Track at Las Vegas on March 4, Stockton Dirt Track on March 18, Stockton Dirt Track on March 19, Silver Dollar Speedway on April 2, Lincoln Speedway on May 19, Weedsport Speedway on May 22, Lincoln Park Speedway on June 8, Knoxville Raceway on June 11, River Cities Speedway on June 17, Rockford Speedway on June 29, Badlands Motor Speedway on July 3, Cedar Lake Speedway on July 9, Attica Raceway Park on July 12, Eldora Speedway on July 16, Ohsweken Speedway on July 26, Junction Motor Speedway on August 16, Angell Park Speedway on August 21, River Cities Speedway on August 26, Nodak Speedway on August 28, Willamette Speedway on September 7), Clay County Fair Speedway on September 16; David Gravel – 9 (Thunderbowl Raceway on March 12, Tri-State Speedway on May 14, I-96 Speedway on June 6, Eldora Speedway on July 14, Lernerville Speedway on July 19, Wilmot Raceway on July 30, Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 on Aug. 5, Skagit Speedway on Sept 2 and 3); Daryn Pittman – 7 (Royal Purple Raceway on Feb. 27, Perris Auto Speedway on April 16, USA Raceway on April 18, New Egypt Speedway on May 24, Jackson Motorplex on June 24, Eldora Speedway on July 15, Williams Grove Speedway on July 22); Brad Sweet – 7 (Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 13, Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 14, Cotton Bowl Speedway on Feb. 26, Ocean Speedway on April 1, Bakersfield Speedway on April 15, Plymouth Speedway on May 13, Badlands Motor Speedway on July 2); Shane Stewart – 7 (Arizona Speedway on March 6, Devil’s Bowl Speedway on April 23, Lawrenceburg Speedway on May 30, Granite City Speedway on June 15, Brown County Speedway on June 19, Silver Dollar Speedway on September 9; Hartford Speedway on September 22); Joey Saldana – 5 (The Dirt Track at Las Vegas on March 3, Devil’s Bowl Speedway on April 22, Jacksonville Speedway on May 4, I-80 Speedway on June 22, U.S. 36 Raceway on September 17); Jason Johnson – 3 (Placerville Speedway on March 24, Knoxville Nationals on August 13, El Paso County Raceway on September 14); Lance Dewease – 2 (Williams Grove Speedway on May 20, Williams Grove Speedway on July 23); Kerry Madsen – 2 (Eldora Speedway on May 6 and 7); Rico Abreu – 2 (Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 on Aug. 6, Silver Dollar Speedway on September 10); Bill Balog – 1 (Beaver Dam Raceway on June 25); Chad Kemenah – 1 (Fremont Speedway on June 3); Terry McCarl – 1 (Knoxville Raceway on June 10); Logan Schuchart – 1 (Cedar Lake Speedway on July 9); Jason Sides – 1 (I-30 Speedway on April 26); Greg Wilson – 1 (The Dirt Track at Charlotte on May 27).
World of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series Statistical Report; Hartford Speedway; Sept 21, 2016
Feature – (25 Laps)1. 2-Shane Stewart  [$10,000]; 2. 15-Donny Schatz  [$5,500]; 3. 49X-Tim Shaffer  [$3,200]; 4. 5-David Gravel  [$2,800]; 5. 9-Daryn Pittman  [$2,500]; 6. 49-Brad Sweet  [$2,300]; 7. 7S-Jason Sides  [$2,200]; 8. 18-Ian Madsen  [$2,100]; 9. 83-Joey Saldana  [$2,050]; 10. 41-Jason Johnson  [$2,000]; 11. 7-Paul McMahan  [$1,500]; 12. 1S-Logan Schuchart  [$1,200]; 13. 20N-Hunter Schuerenberg  [$1,100]; 14. 19-Paige Polyak  [$1,050]; 15. 11R-Chase Ridenour  [$1,000]; 16. 2M-Dustin Daggett  [$900]; 17. W20-Greg Wilson  [$800]; 18. 10V-Matt Vandervere  [$800]; 19. 11K-Kraig Kinser  [$800]; 20. 1A-Jacob Allen  [$800]; 21. 25M-Kenny Mackey  [$800]; 22. 13-Clyde Knipp  [$800]; 23. 4-Danny Smith  [$800]; 24. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild  [$800]Lap Leaders:Shane Stewart 1-25 KSE Hard Charger Award:7S-Jason Sides [+12]
Qualifying –1. 5-David Gravel, 15.623; 2. 18-Ian Madsen, 15.687; 3. 15-Donny Schatz, 15.788; 4. 7-Paul McMahan, 15.842; 5. 1S-Logan Schuchart, 15.853; 6. 49X-Tim Shaffer, 15.859; 7. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild, 15.945; 8. 9-Daryn Pittman, 15.963; 9. 19-Paige Polyak, 15.988; 10. 2-Shane Stewart, 16.028; 11. 49-Brad Sweet, 16.056; 12. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 16.118; 13. 2M-Dustin Daggett, 16.130; 14. 83-Joey Saldana, 16.176; 15. W20-Greg Wilson, 16.199; 16. 41-Jason Johnson, 16.211; 17. 1A-Jacob Allen, 16.229; 18. 4-Danny Smith, 16.251; 19. 7S-Jason Sides, 16.330; 20. 13-Clyde Knipp, 16.389; 21. 20N-Hunter Schuerenberg, 16.390; 22. 11R-Chase Ridenour, 16.476; 23. 25M-Kenny Mackey, 16.804; 24. 10V-Matt Vandervere, 17.525
Heat 1 – (8 Laps – Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature)1. 7-Paul McMahan  ; 2. 2-Shane Stewart  ; 3. 5-David Gravel  ; 4. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild  ; 5. 41-Jason Johnson  ; 6. 2M-Dustin Daggett  ; 7. 7S-Jason Sides  ; 8. 11R-Chase Ridenour 
Heat 2 – (8 Laps – Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature)1. 18-Ian Madsen  ; 2. 9-Daryn Pittman  ; 3. 49-Brad Sweet  ; 4. 1S-Logan Schuchart  ; 5. 83-Joey Saldana  ; 6. 1A-Jacob Allen  ; 7. 13-Clyde Knipp  ; 8. 25M-Kenny Mackey 
Heat 3 – (8 Laps – Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature)1. 15-Donny Schatz  ; 2. 49X-Tim Shaffer  ; 3. 19-Paige Polyak  ; 4. 11K-Kraig Kinser  ; 5. 4-Danny Smith  ; 6. W20-Greg Wilson  ; 7. 20N-Hunter Schuerenberg  ; 8. 10V-Matt Vandervere 
Craftsman Club Dash – (6 Laps, finishing order determined first 6 starting positions of A-feature)1. 15-Donny Schatz  ; 2. 2-Shane Stewart  ; 3. 9-Daryn Pittman  ; 4. 18-Ian Madsen  ; 5. 7-Paul McMahan  ; 6. 49X-Tim Shaffer 
Unofficial World of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series Championship Standings
|Pos.||Car||Driver||Total||Diff||Wins||Top 5’s||Top 10’s||QT|
The World of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: Bad Boy Off Road (Official Side-by-Side Vehicle), Craftsman (Official Tool), Hoosier Racing Tire (Official Tire), Morton Buildings (Official Building), Sears (Official Home Store), The Kenny Wallace Dirt Racing Experience (Official Racing Experience) and VP Racing Fuels (Official Racing Fuel); in addition to contingency sponsors, including: Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Edelbrock, JE Pistons, KSE Racing Products, MSD, Penske Shocks, and Superflow Dynos; along with manufacturer sponsors, including: Impact Racing Products, Intercomp, Racing Electronics, S&S Volvo and TNT Rescue.