Brad Sweet used a slide job in Turns 3 and 4 to pass Donny Schatz on Lap 28 and then fended him off on a late restart to secure his first Lernerville Speedway victory, taking home the $10,000-to-win World of Outlaws Commonwealth Clash on Saturday night in Buffalo Township.
Sweet, a Grass Valley, Calif. native, entered low on Turns 3 and 4, his car stuck and he slid ahead of Schatz. It was the eighth win of the year for Sweet, who drives the NAPA-sponsored 49 car for Kasey Kahne Motorsports. He dedicated the win to the late Greg Hodnett, the 1993 World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year and longtime Central Pennsylvania racer, who died in an accident Thursday at BAPS Motor Speedway in York County.
Schatz settled for second. Aliquippa native and former Lernerville track champion Tim Shaffer led Laps 7 through 21 and finished third.
Sweet said he was happy with the moves he made throughout the 35-lap event. Schatz is the World of Outlaws points leader and a nine-time series champion.
“We were good tonight, and I made some good decisions to track down Donny,” said Sweet, who won the Knoxville Nationals, sprint car racing’s premier event, in August. “It’s never easy to beat Donny Schatz, especially at Lernerville, so it’s something to be proud of, for sure.”
Shaffer took the lead from pole-sitter Daryn Pittman on Lap 7, but Schatz chased him down and made the pass on Turn 2. Shaffer said his car wasn’t as maneuverable as Schatz’s or Sweet’s, and that hurt his chances.
“If you’re off a little bit, it’s a ton on the track,” Shaffer said. “I couldn’t run the middle or top, and those guys could run the middle. They have their cars balanced very well, and that’s what we’re working towards going.”
Schatz, who held a 224-point lead on Sweet entering Saturday, was vying for his 20th win of the season but had to settle for his 45th top-five finish and 60th top-10 finish. He tried to slide Sweet on a restart with three laps to go but couldn’t make it stick.
“If the track caught me, I was going to go for it, but it didn’t, so I had to abort,” Schatz said. “There’s plenty of guys that would go for it, but that’s not me. Yeah, we wanted to win, but sometimes you just have to go fix your problems and get better.”
Boggsville native Carl Bowser was the top local finisher aside from Shaffer, placing 15th. Other Lernerville regulars who qualified included Dan Shetler (18th), Clay Riney (19th), Sye Lynch (20th), George Hobaugh (21st) and Dan Kuriger (22nd).
Reigning Lernerville sprint car track champion A.J. Flick finished second in the B-Main and qualified for the main event, but his engine expired shortly after taking the checkered flag. Flick, a two-time Lernerville points champion, was unable to start the feature.
Haudenschild, Pittman, Jacob Allen and Shaffer won the heat races. Pittman took the dash, and Haudenschild set fast time, running a lap of 12.56 seconds. Apollo native and Lernerville regular Sye Lynch won the B-Main.
Greensburg resident Robbie Bartchy won the Allegheny Sprint Tour 305 sprint car feature that ran before to the World of Outlaws A-Main. The event was called one lap before the scheduled 20-lap distance after a race that was marred by numerous cautions, including a pair of lengthy red flags.
The first red flag was over a half hour to clean up water after Roger Irvine crashed into the water barrels that are placed in front of the Turn 4 wall. The second one came after Jeff Miller, who was leading coming to the white flag, crashed in Turn 4 and his car landed on its side. Irvine and Miller both walked away from their accidents unscathed.
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.