By Lonnie Wheatley, US Photographics
TUCSON, Ariz. (November 19, 2011) – Donny Schatz and Tracy Hines reigned as champions of the 44th Annual Kronik Energy Drink Western World Championships by topping Saturday night’s season-ending feature events for the American Sprint Car Series atop the 3/8-mile USA Raceway clay oval.
While Schatz and Hines enjoyed their $15,000 and $5,000 triumphs, respectively, Shane Stewart escaped with his second Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters National championship by the narrowest of margins. Salvaging a 14th place finish after a wild Thursday crash, Stewart claimed the driver’s championship by one scant point over sixth-place finisher Johnny Herrera.
Rick Ziehl and Jeremy Sherman also finished off ASCS Regional titles during the night, with Ziehl taking his fourth winged ASCS Southwest championship and Sherman collecting his third wingless ASCS Canyon Region crown.
A total of 104 competitors took part in the 44th Annual Western World Championships, including 61 in the winged Lucas Oil ASCS National ranks and 43 wingless ASCS Canyon Region contenders.
Herrera and Brady Bacon made the cut for both the winged and wingless feature events. Herrera, sixth in the winged feature and tenth in the wingless feature, was awarded the Rocket Hard Charger Memorial Award in memory of Jesse Hockett for best combined finish in both feature events for the second year in a row.
Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters (Winged)
Fargo, North Dakota’s Donny Schatz made it back-to-back Western World Championships by winning Saturday night’s season-ending Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters National event at the 44th Annual Kronik Energy Drink Western World Championships at USA Raceway.
But, after claiming his second Western World crown in dominant fashion last year, Schatz had to work for the $15,000 score this time in a frenzied, non-stop 30-lapper atop the 3/8-mile oval. Schatz ultimately took the lead away from Sammy Swindell for keeps on the 26th round and then beat a rallying Jason Johnson to the stripe by just 1.078 seconds as Swindell slipped to third on the final round.
“It was a fun race, it’s fun any time you can race like that,” Schatz explained after his triumph aboard the Tony Stewart Racing STP/Armor All No. 15 J&J.
But, before continuing on with winning banter, Schatz posed the question that everyone else was asking, “Who ended up winning the championship? That’s what I want to know.”
The answer to that question was Shane Stewart, who collected his second Lucas Oil Sprint Car driver’s championship in three years by just one point over Johnny Herrera. Entering the night with a 21-point advantage over Herrera after a wild crash on Thursday, Stewart worked from 23rd after using a provisional to finish 14th with Herrera in sixth. A spread of 20 points separates sixth from 14th.
With the crowd focusing one eye on the lead battle and the other on the championship chase throughout, Thursday night winner Swindell led the feature field to the green flag with Friday winner Brad Sweet alongside.
Swindell, who last won the Western World in 2009, jumped into the lead at the outset and paced the early circuits in front of Sweet with fifth-starter Schatz quickly moving into third.
Traffic came into play after just six laps and was a factor throughout, with Schatz taking advantage to race by Sweet for second on the ninth round and then to take the lead from Swindell a lap later.
Schatz briefly slipped away, leaving Swindell to battle with Danny Lasoski for second as tenth-starter Jason Johnson entered the top-five mix soon after the lap ten mark.
Into the final ten laps, Swindell broke away from Lasoski, Sweet and Johnson and reeled in Schatz for the point, reclaiming the lead in the Big Game Tree Stands No. 1 on the 24th lap. But, Schatz countered by recapturing the top spot just two laps later.
“He got back by and then we were able to capitalize on lapped traffic,” Schatz commented. “It’s fun in lapped traffic, that’s what wins and loses races for ya.”
Swindell kept Schatz within reach until jumping the cushion in turns one and two on the final lap, freeing Schatz up for his second Western World title in a row.
“That’s what it’s all about is fun and sometimes we lose sight of that, it’s just fun to come out here and run and I’m glad to be a part of it,” Schatz explained in victory lane.
Putting the finishing touches on a second owner’s championship for his JJR Don Ott-powered Haynes/Mesilla Valley Transport No. 41 Maxim team, Jason Johnson charged into second on the final circuit and fell just short of the stripe.
“I could have used a 35-lap race,” Johnson commented.
Swindell settled for the show position, with Lasoski fourth in Mark Burch’s Engler Machine No. 1m Wolfweld as just 1.999 seconds separated the top four.
Sweet fought off Herrera much of the way to round out the top five in Harold Main’s H.A.M. Construction No. 35a, with Herrera just one position away from the Lucas Oil Sprint Car championship in sixth.
Kyle Larson climbed a handful of positions to seventh, with Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 16th-starter Brian Brown and Zach Chappell completing the top ten as 22 of the 24 starters took the checkered flag in the 30-lapper that took just over eight minutes (8:09.552).
After trying to race his way into the feature with a runner-up finish in “C” Main action and then falling short with a sixth-place run in “B” Main action, Stewart worked forward just far enough from his 12th row starting position to capture the Lucas Oil Sprint Car championship by the narrowest of possible margins in the 20th year of ASCS competition.
“Having a 100-something point lead come down to one point in the last four races is pretty wild,” Stewart commented. “I’m numb right now; I’m still shocked that we won the darn thing. I knew every car that I passed tonight was going to be valuable, I can’t be happy enough.”
After Trey Starks and Jack Dover kicked off the evening by winning the “C” Mains, Roger Crockett and Calvin Landis topped “B” Main action. Colt Treharn flipped in turns one and two in the second “C” Main, with the same pair of corners snagging Matt Covington, Justyn Cox, Mason Moore and Starks in the first “B” Main.
ASCS Canyon Region (Wingless)
Tracy Hines collected his first Western World title by emerging from a spirited duel with two-time and defending event champion Brady Bacon in Saturday night’s 44th Annual Kronik Energy Drink Western World Championship finale at USA Raceway.
After swapping the lead in the latter stages, Hines took full advantage of a lap 22 caution to put the finishing touches on his second Sunoco Fuel ASCS Canyon Region win in as many nights, this one worth $5,000.
“Lapped traffic caused him (Brady) to get me and then me to get it back, so it all washed out,” Hines explained in victory lane.
After winning Friday night’s preliminary feature, Hines outgunned pole starter Jerry Coons, Jr., for the point at the drop of the green flag and opened up a half straightaway advantage in the opening handful of laps as fourth-starter Bacon put the heat on Coons, Jr., for second.
Hines reached the tail of the field on the ninth lap but then found clear track again when the caution flew after ten laps for Jimmy Crawford, who got into the turn one wall.
With Hines continuing to lead the way on the restart, Bacon battled past Coons, Jr., for second on the 12th round and began reeling in the leader. Bacon got within striking distance of Hines on the 17th circuit, just one lap before traffic came into play.
Bacon put the traffic to good use, sliding into and past Hines in turn four on the 20th round. Hines battled right back though, recapturing the point on the 22nd round. Bacon countered to reclaim the lead on the next circuit, only to have the move negated when the caution flew for Charles Davis, Jr., who came to a stop in turn two after running sixth.
“We were battling back and forth with Tracy there, we just caught a caution on a lap that we didn’t need one,” Bacon explained after falling just short in his bid for a third consecutive Western World title in the wingless ranks. “If that caution hadn’t come out, we would have been back in the lead and probably would have stayed there.”
With Hines sticking to the high side on the ensuing restart, Bacon tried the bottom portion of turns three and four on the restart and surrendered second to Bud Kaeding. Kaeding tried to mount a charge, but a couple of bobbles opened the door for Bacon to reclaim the runner-up position in the final corner as Hines took the checkered flag with a 1.668 second advantage.
Kaeding settled for the show position, explaining that, “We didn’t come here to get second, we were pushing it pretty hard to get up on Tracy there and made a few mistakes that let Tracy get away and then let Brady get by.”
Coons, Jr., crossed the stripe fourth, with Casey Shuman rounding out the top five. Levi Jones was sixth, with Robert Ballou, R.J. Johnson, ASCS Canyon Region champion Jeremy Sherman and Johnny Herrera completing the top ten.
Joshua Hodges and Josh Pelkey topped the night’s wingless “B” Main events.
44th Annual Kronik Energy Drink Western World Championships
Saturday Night Championship Finale Results
USA Raceway – Tucson, AZ
Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters (Winged Cars):
“C” Mains (Top 4 from Each Advance to “B” Mains):
First “C” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 55-Trey Starks, 2. 57-Shane Stewart, 3. 20z-Rick Ziehl, 4. 15g-Bud Goodwin, 5. 3c-Cody Lamar, 6. 11T-Steve Lohn, 7. 57x-Steve Stone, 8. 78-Jody Williams. DNS: 57s-Joey Saldana, 2-Dustin Morgan, 44k-Koty McGullam.
Second “C” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 53-Jack Dover, 2. 45k-Kolt Walker, 3. 9r-Reece Goetz, 4. 90-Lance Norick, 5. 5m-Kyle McCutcheon, 6. 8az-Jordan Stetson, 7. 15c-Joey Chester, 8. 2p-Alex Pettas, 9. 77c-Colt Treharn. DNS: 17m-Josh Baughman.
“B” Mains (Top 3 from Each Advance to “A” Main):
First “B” Feature (15 Laps): 1. 11-Roger Crockett, 2. 88-Tim Crawley, 3. 2L-Logan Forler, 4. 9-Gary Wright, 5. 74x-Joshua Hodges, 6. 57-Shane Stewart, 7. 23-Seth Bergman, 8. 20z-Rick Ziehl, 9. 41w-Joshua Williams, 10. 15g-Bud Goodwin, 11. 55-Trey Starks, 12. 5-Koby Barksdale, 13. 5h-Mason Moore, 14. 29-Justyn Cox, 15. 11c-Matt Covington. DNS: 22-Jesse Baker.
Second “B” Feature (15 Laps): 1. 79-Calvin Landis, 2. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 3. 1x-J.T. Imperial, 4. 05-Brad Loyet, 5. 53-Jack Dover, 6. 77x-Wayne Johnson, 7. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 8. 1mx-Kraig Kinser, 9. 8-John Carney II, 10. 77-Dalten Gabbard, 11. 5w-Lucas Wolfe, 12. 48-Jake Martens, 13. 37-Matt Mitchell, 14. 9r-Reece Goetz, 15. 45k-Kolt Walker, 16. 90-Lance Norick.
Lucas Oil ASCS Western World Championship Finale:
“A” Feature (30 Laps): 1. 15-Donny Schatz, 2. 41-Jason Johnson, 3. 1-Sammy Swindell, 4. 1m-Danny Lasoski, 5. 35a-Brad Sweet, 6. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 7. 77F-Kyle Larson, 8. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 9. 21-Brian Brown, 10. 0-Zach Chappell, 11. 39c-Paul McMahan, 12. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 13. 28-Jeff Swindell, 14. 57-Shane Stewart, 15. 57s-Joey Saldana, 16. 11-Roger Crockett, 17. 99-Brady Bacon, 18. 9-Gary Wright, 19. 88-Tim Crawley, 20. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 21. 44w-Austen Wheatley, 22. 2L-Logan Forler, 23. 79-Calvin Landis, 24. 1x-J.T. Imperial, 25. 2d-Bryan Dobesh.
Lap Leaders: Sammy Swindell 1-9, Donny Schatz 10-23, Swindell 24-25, Schatz 26-30.
Note: Shane Stewart and Gary Wright both utilized mid-season bonus full-point provisionals to start the main event. Joey Saldana used a promoter’s option to start the main event.
ASCS Canyon Region (Non-Wing Cars):
“B” Mains (Top 3 from Each Advance to “A” Main):
First “B” Feature (15 Laps): 1. 74x-Joshua Hodges, 2. 8-Bob Ream, Jr., 3. 19-Andrew Reinbold, 4. 32b-Brian Hosford, 5. 93x-Dustin Morgan, 6. 68-Bryan Swinehart, 7. 77-Dalten Gabbard, 8. 9-Brandon Lane, 9. 20z-Rick Ziehl, 10. 96-Carson Ditsch, 11. 20x-Shon Deskins, 12. 5-Koby Barksdale, 13. 74-Derek Williams, 14. 8sk-Tim Beal. DNS: 16s-Stevie Sussex.
Second “B” Feature (15 Laps): 1. 12-Josh Pelkey, 2. 0-Jimmy Crawford, 3. 78-Chris Bonneau, 4. 91-Jody Williams, 5. 93-Justin Quinn, 6. 97-Jon Stanbrough, 7. 6c-Rex Calderwood, 8. 7k-Bruce St. James, 9. 16-Mike Martin, 10. 99a-James Aragon. DNS: 2-Ryan Bernal, 9x-Ryan Linder, 81-Matt Mitchell, 48T-Thomas Ogle.
ASCS Canyon Region Western World Championship Finale:
“A” Feature (30 Laps): 1. 4-Tracy Hines, 2. 99-Brady Bacon, 3. 29-Bud Kaeding, 4. 94-Jerry Coons, Jr., 5. 21x-Casey Shuman, 6. 20-Levi Jones, 7. 1mx-Robert Ballou, 8. 51-R.J. Johnson, 9. 21-Jeremy Sherman, 10. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 11. 7-Mike Spencer, 12. 12-Josh Pelkey, 13. 6-Ronnie Clark, 14. 27n-Nick Aiuto, 15. 78-Chris Bonneau, 16. 74x-Joshua Hodges, 17. 19-Andrew Reinbold, 18. 91-Jody Williams, 19. 8-Bob Ream, Jr., 20. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 21. 32b-Brian Hosford, 22. 0-Jimmy Crawford.
Lap Leaders: Tracy Hines 1-19, Brady Bacon 20-21, Hines 22-30.
Note: Brian Hosford and Jody Williams started the main event via promoter’s option, racing for money only and no additional points.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters Driver Points (Top 15): 1. Shane Stewart 3,219, 2. Johnny Herrera 3,218 3. Brady Bacon 3,055, 4. Jeff Swindell 3,026, 5. Gary Wright 2,929, 6. Tim Crawley 2,909, 7. Jason Johnson 2,879, 8. Tony Bruce, Jr. 2,863, 9. Seth Bergman 2,624, 10. Aaron Reutzel 2,600, 11. Zach Chappell 2,435, 12. Wayne Johnson 2,108, 13. Jack Dover 1,866, 14. Dustin Morgan 1,639, 15. Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 1,558.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters Owner Points (Top 15): 1. Jason Johnson Racing #41 – 3,431, 2. Paul Silva #57 – 3,219, 3. Herrera/Main #45x – 3,218, 4. Bacon/Tel-Star #99 – 3,055, 5. Swindell Group #28 – 3,026, 6. Mike Ward #88 – 2,909, 7. Bruce Racing #18 2,683, 8. Petersen Motorsports #23 2,624, 9. Kenny Reutzel #87 – 2,600, 10. Randy Washburn #0 – 2,435, 11. Gary Wright #9 – 2,333, 12. M&M Motorsports #2 – 1,639, 13. Sam Hafertepe #15 – 1,558, 14. Jack Dover #53 – 1,494, 15. Bill Covington #11c – 1,475.
Sunoco Fuel ASCS Southwest Points (Top 10): 1. Rick Ziehl 2,613, 2. Calvin Landis 2,404, 3. Kyle McCutcheon 2,278, 4. Dalten Gabbard 2,242, 5. Lance Norick 2,174, 6. Joshua Williams 2,167, 7. Joshua Hodges 1,939, 8. Jordan Stetson 1,921, 9. Joey Chester 1,882, 10. John Carney II 1,725.
Sunoco Fuel ASCS Canyon Region Points (Top Ten): 1. Jeremy Sherman 2,331, 2. Charles Davis, Jr. 2,256, 3. R.J. Johnson 2,061, 4. Ronnie Clark 1,921, 5. Andrew Reinbold 1,871, 6. Josh Pelkey 1,786, 7. Mike Martin 1,746, 8. Bruce St. James 1,727, 9. Justin Quinn 1,661, 10. Ryan Linder 1,647.