Donny Schatz has claimed his ninth Australian Sprintcar Open crown in masterful fashion at Brisbane’s Archerfield Speedway as part of round six of QSS World Series Sprintcars.
The ten-time World of Outlaws Champion had somewhat flown under the radar for the majority of the two-night event until he displayed his class in his final heat, driving from the fifth row on the grid to win in just a 10 lap race.
The heat race win elevated him to the provisional number one qualifying spot, only to lose his pole position start to Pennsylvania’s Logan Schuchart who won the Gold Shootout. Meanwhile, current Australian Sprintcar champion, Kerry Madsen advanced from qualifying in position eight to position three thanks to an outstanding run in from the Bronze Shootout to third quickest in the Gold.
From the start of the 50 lap final, Schuchart was quick to bolster his top qualifying effort by establishing an early lead, opening up a gap over Schatz and Madsen while a five car battle for fourth raged in the background between Steve Lines, Rusty Hickman, Carson Macedo, Luke Oldfield and Jamie Veal.
Once the field had settled however, Hickman emerged in fourth over Lines and Veal while James McFadden and Brooke Tatnell battled over 11th on a race track that facilitated only limited passing, before Tatnell retired after ten laps without any brakes from a broken right-rear brake caliper in the first lap.
Schatz finally made a move to displace Schuchart on the 21st lap, and other than some changes in the tail order of the top ten and beyond, the field largely remained unchanged for the majority of the race apart from eventual American Racer Hard Charger Award winner, Lockie McHugh who was on his way to advancing ten positions.
Lapped traffic became a challenge as the track began to take rubber on the pole line, with the lower order cars trying to stay low and out of trouble while the faster cars struggled to find the grip to make a pass on the outside.
And with the lead order untouched, it looked likely the race would go the full distance to the flag until Rusty Hickman made an attempt to lap Jack Lee into turn one, only to make contact and gently take both cars into the fence with only three laps remaining.
Despite the field regathering for the restart, the podium order would remain unchanged however, with Schatz sailing to his 26th win in World Series competition over Schuchart and Madsen. with Lines and Veal completing the top five, and McHugh leading home McFadden in 7th.
“This trophy will look fantastic in the trophy room at home. The Australian Open is always a tough race to win and you appreciate it when you do,” Schatz said. I’m just so fortunate to get to do this with great people and experience so many highlights in my career, and I’m looking forward to Wednesday when we get to do it again.”
The majority of the field will return on Wednesday night for Schatz last appearance in Australia for the season along with round 7 of the series, where Steve Lines maintains the lead on 1712, over Madsen on 1653 and McFadden a slender 47 points behind on 1606.