David Gravel couldn’t clear Donny Schatz with seven to go, but would not be denied, scoring the victory in a thriller with a last-lap pass of Schatz to win Saturday night’s World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series season finale at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
It was Gravel and CJB Motorsports 18th series win of the season, doubling their total from last season. Schatz and Brian Brown completed the podium on the final night of the Textron Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals.
Ryan Smith led the opening lap of the 30-lap Feature, before Brian Brown took control on lap two with a slide job. Brad Sweet brought out the first of a handful of cautions on lap two, as he faced backwards in turn two.
Schatz worked by Smith for second on the ensuing restart before another caution on lap four halted competition. Schatz was strong on the restart once again, this time sliding Brown for the top spot to lead lap five.
Lap five saw a scary incident in turn two with Jason Johnson, Shane Stewart, Greg Hodnett, Sheldon and Jac Haudenschild creating a pileup and bringing out the red flag with 25 laps to go. All drivers were okay.
On the restart, Brown kept pace with Schatz as the duo reached traffic before the final caution of the event flew, this time for Kraig Kinser with 14 laps to go. Gravel pounced on the restart, with a big slide on Brown to claim second as he begun to chase down Schatz with 10 laps remaining.
With seven to go, Gravel and Schatz exchanged spots, with the latter maintaining the advantage at the line. With five to go, Gravel tried to get one more shot at the series champion. He got his shot and he took advantage of it with a last-lap pass to score the victory.
“That was a blast. I hope this crowd enjoyed it,” Gravel said in Victory Lane. “Barry Jackson, Derek and Zach give me an awesome car every night.”
While Gravel may have won the battle, Schatz won the war – again – by scoring the series title.
“It’s been a great year. This race team is phenomenal. We are top three seemingly every night and the car does not drop out of races,” Schatz said. After being awarded the Championship hardware for the ninth time in his career and asked about how long he can enjoy this title he said, “You enjoy it. But as long as you’re an active race car driver, you continue to put it in the back of your mind.”
Brian Brown completed the podium and put it simply, “We got beat by two of the best drivers in the world.”
Kerry Madsen finished fourth, with Bill Balog in fifth.
Logan Schuchart, Daryn Pittman, Cole Duncan, Brent Marks and Smith rounded out the top ten.
World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series
The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway – Concord, NC
Race Results – Nov. 4, 2017
1. 5-David Gravel
2. 15-Donny Schatz
3. 21-Brian Brown
4. 2M-Kerry Madsen
5. 17B-Bill Balog
6. 1S-Logan Schuchart
7. 9-Daryn Pittman
8. 12N-Cole Duncan
9. 19-Brent Marks
10. 59-Ryan Smith
11. 49-Brad Sweet
12. 44-Trey Starks
13. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss
14. 2-Shane Stewart
15. 15H-Sam Hafertepe
16. W20-Greg Wilson
17. 7S-Jason Sides
18. 19P-Paige Polyak
19. 13M-Paul McMahan
20. 18-Ian Madsen
21. 4-Parker Price-Miller
22. 11K-Kraig Kinser
23. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild
24. 71-Joey Saldana
25. 41-Jason Johnson
26. 27-Greg Hodnett
27. 71M-Dave Blaney
28. 17-Jac Haudenschild