ROSSBURG, Ohio — Sheldon Haudenschild tracked down 10-time World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz to Saturday night’s conclusion of the #LetsRaceTwo doubleheader at Eldora Speedway and rebound from disappointment earlier in the day.
Schatz and his Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing crew were poised for a milestone victory until Haudenschild spoiled their moment. Stalking Schatz over the final 10 laps, Haudenschild slowly reeled in Schatz and took the lead at the white flag aboard the Stenhouse Jr. Marshall Racing No. 17.
“Donny is the best in the business,” said Haudenschild, who led much of the afternoon feature but was disqualified from a second-place finish because his car was under weight. “He schooled me early in the race, so I just fell into second and watched him for a bit. Sometimes it’s better to not be out front. I just kept telling myself to hit my marks and stay smooth. You have to be perfect at this place, and we finally did it tonight.”
Haudenschild and Schatz were the two to watch.
Schatz somehow picked his way from seventh-to-second in the first two laps of the 30-lapper, but then Haudenschild passed Schatz and leader Ian Madsen thanks to a monster slide job into turn one. The No. 17 paced the following four laps before Schatz perfected the low line and cruised into command on lap eight.
A gnarly crash collecting top-five runners Giovanni Scelzi and Carson Macedo set the stage for the final restart on lap 16. Electing to restart on the bottom, Schatz quickly pulled away and seemed as if he was finally due to collect his first win of the season.
However, with 10 laps to go, you could feel the tide change. The momentum was swiftly changing, and it was changing away from Schatz’s No. 15.
With every passing lap, Haudenschild cut into the lead and withered it away until he was hounding Schatz with three to go. But the next time around, he was all over his back bumper. The next time? He was leading as the white flag waved and Haudenschild took the lead.
Haudenschild drove away to officially claim his first Eldora triumph by 0.930 seconds over Logan Schuchart, who stole second from Schatz on the final lap.
“As long as we can keep this team, these group of guys together for a long time, we could do something special,” Haudenschild said. “If you look at the No. 15 [Schatz] or No. 49 [Sweet] over all these years, the crew is a huge part of their legacy. This win is at the top of my list, and it wouldn’t come without my guys [Kyle] Ripper, Nickolas [Goodfliesch] and Drew [Brenner]. I can’t wait for our big July shows here.”
Coming home with a second-place finish at Eldora was Logan Schuchart.
“Man, we needed this run,” Schuchart said following his recent run of bad luck. “We’ve had a fast car all year, but those little problem have hurt us. Confidence is huge in this sport, and we just got a lot back tonight. I knew we had a good car, especially as the track came in. I’m so happy to be back here at Eldora. I love this place.”
Finishing a heartbreaking third was Schatz, who led 21 laps until Haudenschild went by at the white flag.
“He just had everything to gain by moving around the race track,” Schatz said. “We were solid out front, but kept fading there at the end. We were better in the middle and lower early on, but sometimes you get to see what’s going on if you’re back there. I couldn’t move around, it’s just the way it goes. Would’ve been nice to win, but we didn’t. We’ll get another chance on Wednesday.”