In a masterful display of the type for which he is renowned, World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz completely dominated the 35-lap feature race to win round seven of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship at Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway on Wednesday night (December 26). In a perfect start to his Australian campaign, Schatz left his opponents floundering as he led every circulation and lapped all but four of the 17 other cars that started the event. It was the usual suspects who emerged as the best of the locals with Brent Kratzmann prevailing over Luke Oldfield in an epic scrap for the minor placings, leaving Allan Woods fourth ahead of a fast finishing Mitchell Gee.
In round five of the Polar Ice Midget Track Championship, Adam Clarke chalked up his third Archerfield feature race win for the season with an untroubled run through the 20 laps. Much like the Sprintcar main, the real action was happening behind the leader as Charlie Brown earned himself a boisterous post-race ovation from the big Boxing Day crowd with a superb run into second place. Brayden Willmington finished third ahead of Glenn Wright, with Rusty Whittaker fifth at the flag.
The Modlite feature race went the way of Sam Gollaschewsky over Scott Lehfeldt and Dylan Hunter, while Dave Collins clinched the Compact Speedcar feature race from Emma Harris and Cody Maroske.
The biggest Sprintcar field of the year assembled for duty, with 38 cars taking on the clock in time trials, from which Luke Oldfield emerged as KRE Fast Time with a best lap of 11.624. Schatz (11.789) was second best ahead of Gee (11.937), with Scheuerle (11.997) the last of the sub-12 second club. Kratzmann, Brent Aprile and Steve Greer were next quickest, with Andrew Corbet, Anthony Lambert and Brodie Tulloch rounding out the top ten.
The opening heat saw Dave Whell make the most of his pole start to lead throughout. Anthony Vanderreyden ran second for much of the distance but was ultimately demoted to fourth by Oldfield and Aprile, both of whom advanced from the fourth row.
Mitch Gowland led the largest portion of heat two, only to be rounded up by Peter Lack and Schatz over the final two laps to find himself third at the chequer.
Woods was untroubled from pole position in heat three, even lapping some of the tailenders on his way to downing Kevin Titman and Brock Dean. As the only driver to move forward, Andrew Scheuerle cut a fastest lap significantly quicker than anybody else on his way to finishing fourth after starting seventh.
A second win for Woods in heat four came in much different circumstances when he pounced on the final lap. Kristy Bonsey looked to have the race safely in her keeping until the merest of errors in turn two on the final lap also resulted in second-placed Dean being delayed momentarily, allowing Woods to split them and snatch the win.
Bonsey recovered best to salvage second, with Dean pushed back another spot by Oldfield in the charge to the line.
Schatz chased down Mick Sauer to win heat five, the American surviving a close call early in the race when contact from behind by Lambert sent the Toowoomba-based racer crashing out. Kratzmann climbed from seventh to snare third behind Sauer.
Gowland was not going to be denied again when found himself in front once more in the final heat, maintaining his position on this occasion to finish ahead of Ben Hilder and Dan Murray.
Steven Johnson took out the C Main ahead of Scott Genrich, with Sean Rose finishing third to snare the final spot in the B Main field.
Brett Minett put in a dazzling display in the B Main, planting the right rear of the #94 on the cushion and roaring around the high side of the track to storm from seventh and surge into the lead on lap 10. After being rounded up by Minett, Dean also moved up-track and advanced to second at the expense of Dan Murray, with Whell clinching the final feature race berth.
When top qualifier Schatz inverted the first four spots in the Sprintcar Dash, Kratzmann found himself in pole position and he raced away to take the 6-lap scramble from Oldfield. Schatz finished third ahead of Aprile, Scheuerle, Lack, Tulloch and Gee.
Despite starting third in the feature race, Schatz had moved into the lead before the first lap was completed. An early stoppage came on lap three following a tangle involving Lack and Aprile from which Lack recovered to restart from the rear, while Aprile again found himself out of luck after such a strong showing. With 27 uninterrupted laps from this point, Schatz was phenomenal as he expanded his lead beyond half a lap, was closing in on the Scheuerle/Woods fight for fourth and looking as though he might lap the entire field until Greer denied him the opportunity when his spin in turn two with six laps to run brought about a restart. Although the timesheets show that Kratzmann ran second for every lap, the reality was much different as he and Oldfield swapped the position on numerous occasions, often several times in a single lap. Kratzmann refused to yield though and Oldfield could never make a pass stick long enough to secure the position and had to settle for a fighting third ahead of Woods while, in the final dash to the chequer, Gee chased down Scheuerle to snatch fifth. Behind Scheuerle came Corbet and Tulloch, with Lack surging back to salvage ninth ahead of Minett, who climbed into the top ten after starting 15th. Titman, Hilder, Dean, Gowland, Murray, Greer and Whell completed the finishers with the luckless Aprile the only casualty.
Midget qualifying saw previous round winner Darren Vine (14.071) top time trials ahead of Clarke (14.203), Whittaker (14.312), Willmington (14.363) and Gary Hudson (14.380) and it is perhaps no coincidence that the biggest Midget field of the season also produced the best racing of the season thus far, with the heats producing plenty of highlights.
Clarke cleared out to win the opening heat comfortably over Brown and Mitchell Rooke, with Whittaker downing Vine and Scott Doyle to take heat two.
Having crashed out of his opening heat, Brad Dawson bounced back in emphatic fashion to triumph in heat three, leading home Wright, Vine and Brown.
Clarke consolidated his position atop the points when he doubled up to win the final heat from Rooke and Cal Whatmore.
Launching from pole position and with Vine failing to make the start, Clarke was never headed and, in a scenario akin to what played out in the Sprintcar feature, all the action was taking place in the battle for the minor placings. As he did at the previous round, Brown stuck firm on the highline and, despite a few close calls when rivals squeezed him for room in their efforts to keep him at bay, his efforts were rewarded on this occasion as he rounded up the likes of Whittaker, Glenn Wright and Willmington to surge into second place. Having finished on the podium here earlier in the season, Willmington was solid again in securing third behind Brown, while Wright was also impressive in finishing fourth in his first Midget outing for the season. Whittaker finagled fifth ahead of Rooke, Bodie Smith, Riki Harrison, Dawson and Whatmore, with Doyle, Nathan Mathers, Tom Clauss, Brad Harrison, DJ Raw, Gavin McDowell and Audie Malt completing the finishers.
It was Gollschewsky who stood tall in the Modlite events, winning two heats before also prevailing in the 15-lap feature race. Lehfeldt finished second in the feature ahead of Hunter, with the top three occupying those positions from the outset as Will Butler, Jac Carnall, Nathan Politch and Dan Lewis proved to be the best of the rest.
Although down in numbers, the Compact Speedcars made amends with some close competition that started with heat wins for Harris and Matt ONeill and culminated with Collins breaking free of a battle pack to take the feature race from Harris and Maroske, who started at the rear of the field. Mark Maczek and Trent Usher rounded out the first five ahead of Nick Gannon, Matt ONeill, Wayne Corbett and Dave Swan.
The next event at Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway is this Saturday night (December 29) featuring round eight of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship plus the Super Sedan Summer Slam, AMCA Nationals and Open Sedans.