STOCKTON, Calif. — Logan Schuchart could see victory at the Stockton Dirt Track with three laps to go, an opportunity to sweep the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series races at the track.
Schuchart could see a payday of $20,000 for winning the NOS Energy Drink Showdown.
However, Schuchart could also see his Shark Racing teammate Jacob Allen leading, searching for his first World of Outlaws win on Friday night.
Cruising down the backstretch, he saw Allen’s Drydene No. 1a car power into turn three, heading for two laps to go. When Schuchart exited turn four, he no longer saw Allen in front of him. The white-and-blue No. 1a slowed and pulled into the infield.
The lead was Schuchart’s. And after two clean laps, so was victory.
“It’s a tough deal,” Schuchart said. “I’m happy to get the win. It’s awesome to have these cars up front. Whatever happened, this team works really hard to keep these cars on the race track.”
The victory was Schuchart’s seventh of the year — further breaking his record of winning at most four wins in a season — and 15th career World of Outlaws win overall.
While he celebrated in victory lane with his Drydene cladded Shark Racing team, Allen was back at the trailer diagnosing an engine failure with his crew under a full moon Friday the 13th night.
“Pretty much a heart break,” said Allen, trying to find the words to describe the loss. “It’s kind of tough.”
The Shark Racing duo was fast all night. Schuchart qualified third and Allen fourth — both setting times that broke the previous track record. Ten-time series champion Donny Schatz set quick time and a track record with a time of 12.543 seconds.
Schuchart and Allen both finished second in their Drydene heat races, then went on to run third and second, respectively, in the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash won by Austen Wheatley.
Wheatley and Allen made up the front row of the 30-lap feature — both attempting to win their first World of Outlaws race.
On the initial start, Wheatley hit the throttle and wheeled onto the frontstretch, allowing Allen to get the jump on him and pull away with the lead into the first turn.
His comfortable lead was eliminated in two laps when the first caution came out for Shane Stewart going off track in turn two. On the restart, Allen launched back to the lead, but Wheatley stayed close and got side by side with Allen through the first corner. Allen had the better grip on the high groove and drove away from Wheatley down the backstretch.
While Allen led, David Gravel worked his way around Schuchart for third and after dueling with Wheatley for eight laps moved into second. By that time, Allen had found himself in heavy lapped traffic. Gravel was able to gain yards on him every lap.
However, once Allen found clean air again, he left Gravel searching for speed by pulling away to about a straightaway lead.
With nine laps to go Allen caught more traffic, including Brad Sweet, and got loose exiting turn two. He lost traction exiting turn four, too, unable to hold his line. That allowed Gravel to go from being a straightaway back to being at Allen’s tail tank.
Allen continued to run the low line into turn one and Gravel darted high to try and get a run around him. However, the move cost Gravel a chance at a win. Going high opened the door for Schuchart to dive underneath. The two almost made contact at the apex of the corner, hurting Gravel most. Schuchart accelerated away from the Mesilla Valley Transportation No. 41 car down the backstretch.
“I kind of punched myself in the head there after that,” Gravel said. “I tried to pass Jacob on the top going into one and two, ended up giving the spot to Logan.”
Now, the only car Schuchart saw in front of him was his teammate. With seven laps to go inches separated the Shark Racing drivers due to a caution for Tim Kaeding going off track in turn two.
On the final restart of the night, Allen rocketed ahead of Schuchart. Schuchart couldn’t keep pace with his teammate and in the closing laps found himself having to hold off a hard-charging Schatz, who got around Gravel for third.
With three laps to go, Allen wore the appearance of a first-time winner. While driving through turns three and four his fairy tale turned into a horror movie when the engine let go.
“After that last restart, it felt like it was kind of starting to lose power a pinch,” Allen said. “But it’s hard to say. You know, you’ve got a lot on your mind. There’re only a few laps left. You’re just trying to finish it and win the race. It’s a pretty shitty deal really. I don’t know. It sucks. I guess it’s just part of it.”
Allen’s misfortune became Schuchart’s gain as he inherited the lead and drove to his second straight win at the Stockton Dirt Track.
“He was way faster than I was,” Schuchart said about Allen. “It showed after the restart. It’s tough. Once Jacob got to the lead, he was gone. I couldn’t really hit my marks there for a few laps. I was just trying to make myself wide. I was happy to run second in this race. But I’m a competitor at the same time. I was going to try and pass him if I got the spot.
“Jacob, he’s been working really hard at this deal. It’s tough. It takes a lot out of you. Especially when you get beat all of the time. But he’s right there. We’ve seen it in the past. I hope he can get his spirit up and win one of these things. I’ve never been so big as a fan as I was running second tonight.”
Schatz finished second and Gravel had to settle for third. With Schatz’s runner-up finish he was able to retake the points lead over Brad Sweet, who finished 10th. The reigning champion is now 14 points ahead of Sweet heading into the final California race of the year.
To see full results, turn to the next page.