2017-11-05 It was Gravel and CJB Motorsports 18th World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series win of the season, doubling their total from last season. (Photo HHP)
David Gravel couldn't clear Donny Schatz with seven to go, but would not be denied, scoring the victory in a thriller with a last-lap pass of Schatz. It was Gravel and CJB Motorsports' 18th World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series win of the season, doubling their total from last season. Schatz and Brian Brown completed the podium on the final night of the Textron Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Ryan Smith led the opening lap of the 30-lap Feature, before Brian Brown took control on lap two with a slide job. Brad Sweet brought out the first of a handful of cautions on lap two, as he faced backwards in turn two.
Schatz worked by Smith for second on the ensuing restart before another caution on lap four halted competition. Schatz was strong on the restart once again, this time sliding Brown for the top spot to lead lap five.
Lap five saw a scary incident in turn two with Jason Johnson, Shane Stewart, Greg Hodnett, Sheldon and Jac Haudenschild creating a pileup and bringing out an #OpenRed with 25 to go. All drivers were okay.
On the restart, Brown kept pace with Schatz as the duo reached traffic before the final caution of the event flew, this time for Kraig Kinser with 14 laps to go. Gravel pounced on the restart, with a big slider on Brown to claim second as he begun to chase down Schatz with 10 laps remaining.
With seven to go, Gravel and Schatz exchanged sliders with the latter maintaining the advantage at the line. With five to go, Gravel pounded the cushion to try and get one more shot at the Series Champion. He got his shot and he took advantage of it. The Watertown, Connecticut driver brought the sold-out Textron Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals crowd to their feet with a thrilling last-lap pass to score the victory.
"That was a blast. I hope this crowd enjoyed it," an elated Gravel said in Victory Lane. "Barry Jackson, Derek and Zach give me an awesome car every night. It's been a badass year," Gravel, who will return to CJB Motorsports in 2018, added.
While Gravel may have won the battle, Schatz won the war - again. "It's been a great year. This race team is phenomenal. We are top three seemingly every night and the car does not drop out of races," Schatz said after the race. After being awarded the Championship hardware for the ninth time in his career and asked about how long he can enjoy this title he said, "You enjoy it. But as long as you're an active race car driver, you continue to put it in the back of your mind."
Brian Brown completed the podium and put it simply, "We got beat by two of the best drivers in the world."
Kerry Madsen, a five-time World of Outlaws winner this season, finished fourth with 2017 IRA Champion, Bill Balog completing the top five.
Logan Schuchart started 22nd and made it to sixth to earn KSE Hard Charger honors. Daryn Pittman, Cole Duncan, Brent Marks and Smith completed the top ten.
The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series Banquet is Sunday, November 5 and puts the bowtie on the end of what was a fantastic 2017 season.
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