For Donny Schatz, The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has always been a special place. He won the final World of Outlaws race of the millennium at the half-mile in 1999 and also was victorious in the series last visit to the track in 2006 when he capped his first series title with a victory. The three-time and defending series champion continued to add to his impressive resume at the track on Thursday night, picking up the win in the World of Outlaws return to Las Vegas before a packed grandstand.

Schatz lined up third in the Armor All J&J and fell back to fourth early in the race before getting around Jason Sides and Craig Dollansky to move into second. He then used heavy lapped traffic to his advantage to pass three-time series champion Sammy Swindell on the low side of turns one and two on the 16th lap. He would endure three cautions over the final 15 laps, including one on the white flag lap which set up a green-white-checker finish. By way of World of Outlaws rules, two consecutive green flag laps have to run to finish a race. Schatz used a strong restart each time to distance himself from Swindell.

The win for Schatz was his third of the season in World of Outlaws action. He now has 91 career A-Feature victories, which is fifth best all-time. He also extended his lead in the series championship standings to 37 over Jason Sides who moved back into the second spot.

“It was great,” said Schatz after celebrating his win with his Tony Stewart Racing team. “We set fast time and got a win. We won the race in traffic. I had a good race car, but so did the guys in second, third and fourth. I’m glad we had those long runs. We were able to get to those guys in traffic and get by them.”

Schatz is the only driver that has competed in all 45 events that the World of Outlaws have contested at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway dating back to 1996. He now has six wins and 26 Top-10 finishes at the state-of-the-art half-mile in the desert.

“I think tonight the fans saw that we want to be here and they want to be here to watch us,” said the North Dakota native. “That’s good to see. It’s good to see our sponsors here as well. They did a great charity deal with Tony (Stewart) during the day and were able to come out here tonight and we got them a win. We are feeling very good now.”

Craig Dollansky started on the pole of the 30-lap event and led the first seven laps on Thursday night, before Swindell dove to the low side of turns one and two to take the top spot on the eighth lap. A caution two laps later gave Swindell some clear track to work with as he looked to add to his strong record at Las Vegas. He wound up second in the Tom Rolfe Trucking Maxim.

“I made a mistake,” shared the native of Germantown, Tennessee. “I caught a car in the wrong place in (turns) three and four. I didn’t get a good run off four and I didn’t think I was close enough to slide across and then he got out of the gas so I was stuck in the middle. Being in the wrong place and then my lack of not being out here was part of that. I have to be more aggressive in traffic. They said I had 10-15 car lengths before I got to those guys. I’ll just have to be a little more aggressive with lapped cars.”

Dollansky paced the field early in the race and then did everything he could to track Swindell down in the late going as the pair battled for the second spot. He tried a slide job on a late restart and nearly snagged the runner-up spot. The native of Elk River, Minnesota came home third in the DirecTV Maxim for Kasey Kahne Racing.

“It’s definitely not what we were hoping for,” said Dollansky. “I felt good the first few laps. After about 10 laps I developed a serious vibration. I’m not really sure what was going on there, it felt like maybe a motor was going down on us. Fortunately we made it to the end. Near the end, we knocked the radiator cap off and really couldn’t see those last few laps.

Late in the race on Thursday, a number of drivers suffered flat right rear tires, including 20-time series champion Steve Kinser and Jac Haudenschild. Tire wear was definitely on Schatz’s mind as the laps wound down.

“It always is, when you see the guys that were having trouble,” he shared. “I poked a hole in the tire in the heat race and we plugged it and poke another one. Sometimes you have to be more lucky that good. Tonight was one of those nights where we came home with air in all four tires and picked up a victory.”

Swindell also erred on the side of caution late in the race as he looked to conserve his right rear tire en route to bringing home a season-best second place effort, which helped vault him into the fourth spot in the World of Outlaws championship standings.

“That was part of my problem on the starts and that would let Donny (Schatz) get away,” he explained. “On the starts I would get a lot of tire shake and that would make the car real tight and kind of loose at the same time. I had to move the wing all the way ahead just to help make up for some of that and help the car turn. It seemed liked after the third or fourth lap though, I was just as fast if not faster.”

Jason Sides continued his strong start to the 2009 season finishing fourth in the Wetherington Tractor Service Maxim. Danny Lasoski picked up his first Top-Five of the season aboard the Casey’s General Store Maxim.

Kerry Madsen was sixth in the TK Concrete KPC. Terry McCarl was seventh in the Big Game Treestands Maxim. Steve Kinser worked his way back up to eighth in the Quaker State Maxim, after losing a tire with just six laps remaining. Daryn Pittman was ninth driving the No. 83JR machine for Dennis Roth’s team. Kraig Kinser rounded out the Top-10 in the Bass Pro Shops Maxim.

The World of Outlaws return to action with the Mini Gold Cup on March 13-14 at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California. THE DIRT TRACK AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY NOTES

• FAST QUALIFIER: Donny Schatz paced the 27 cars that took time with an AMB i.t. timed lap around the semi-banked half-mile oval at 14.148 seconds at 127.226 mph. For his qualifying effort, Schatz earned five bonus points. The next four fastest qualifiers also earned bonus points, including: Jason Sides (4), Sammy Swindell (3), Randy Hannagan (2), and Jason Meyers (1).

• QUALIFYING WINNERS: Joey Saldana, Kerry Madsen and Craig Dollansky won heat races… Craig Dollansky won the Crane Cams Dash… Jac Haudenschild won the B-Main.

• FEATURE WINNERS: There has been four World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series A-Feature event held in 2009. The winners include: Donny Schatz (Volusia Speedway Park-twice and The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway) and Joey Saldana (Volusia Speedway Park).

• HALF-MILE WINNERS: The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a semi-banked half-mile oval. The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series has raced four times this season on a track that size. The winners include: Donny Schatz (Volusia Speedway Park-twice and The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway) and Joey Saldana (Volusia Speedway Park).

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