BARBERVILLE, Fla. – Logan Schuchart threw everything he could muster at 10-time World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz Friday night at Volusia Speedway Park.
And while the Shark Racing driver’s efforts were impressive, no doubt, they weren’t quite enough to bring home a victory during the opening night of the Outlaws’ season at the half-mile Florida dirt track.
Schuchart jetted to the lead from the outside pole on the first lap of Friday’s 30-lap feature, the third of five sprint car programs during the 49th annual DIRTcar Nationals presented by Bozard Ford, and proved he wasn’t going to go away quietly despite Schatz’s move on the outside to take the lead at lap two.
The Hanover, Pa., driver rallied back with a similar high-side maneuver to reclaim command on the seventh round, then paced 20 straight circuits around the Volusia half mile and appeared to have victory well in his sights coming down toward the finish.
However, Schuchart knew full well that with Schatz behind him, he couldn’t rest easy, and he was right.
Schatz went back to the cushion inside of five to go, and the move paid off, as he ripped around the outside of Schuchart’s No. 1s coming to the conclusion of lap 27 and went on to victory.
That left Schuchart to settle for a runner-up finish, but it was easily his best run at Volusia to-date in his Outlaw career, despite the fact that it wasn’t exactly what he hoped for.
“When you’ve got that car (Schatz) behind you, nothing’s ever wrapped up. I knew it was going to be close,” admitted Schuchart. “Donny kind of showed his nose (with) about five, six, seven laps to go, so I knew he was there … and he set me up just right. That’s why he’s so good and so smart.
“I was trying to protect a lower line; it was tough going around the outside, but I probably should have just moved my wing back a little bit more from where I had it, but he set me up just right and got by there,” Schuchart continued. “I feel like we had the car to win the race, but we just got outsmarted a little bit at the end.
“Who knows, I might be a little rusty also,” he added with a laugh.
Schuchart enters the rest of the DIRTcar Nationals with obvious momentum, and a hope to improve on his career-best points finish of fifth, earned last season on the strength of eight wins and 53 top 10s.
“It’s great. It really is. It’s a great finish to start off the year,” Schuchart grinned. “We’re happy to run second and start off the year strong, but we’ve got two more nights to try and get one of these Gators (trophies) and hopefully we can do that before the end of the weekend.”