The Breakdown: First Leg of the Gerdau Recycling Northern Tour at River Cities Speedway
By: Tony Veneziano
GRAND FORKS, ND — June 12, 2017 — The First Leg of the Gerdau Recycling Northern Tour for the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series takes the green flag on Friday, June 16 at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D. The event will mark the 11th consecutive year the series has visited the always thrilling high-banked bullring. Home state driver Donny Schatz carries a four-race win streak at the track over the last two seasons. This edition of The Breakdown sets the stage for the 2017 edition of the First Leg of the Gerdau Recycling Northern Tour for the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series at River Cities Speedway.
River Cities Speedway is a high-banked, three-tenths-mile. The track record of 9.269-seconds at 116.517 mph was established by two-time Outlaws champion Jason Meyers on August 21, 2009.
Donny Schatz has won four consecutive World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series races at River Cities Speedway, sweeping both legs of the Northern Tour each of the last two years. Schatz has won five of the last six races for the series at the high-banked bullring and has eight overall wins to lead all drivers. Schatz has finished in the top-10 in all 19 of the previous races for the Outlaws at River Cities.
Joey Saldana has a pair of wins at River Cities Speedway, including in the inaugural event for the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series in 2007. Daryn Pittman, the 2013 series champion, won at the track in 2014.
Craig Dollansky has three wins at River Cities Speedway with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series, while Steve Kinser scored a pair of victories at the track. Sammy Swindell, Kraig Kinser and Cody Darrah each visited the winner’s circle once at River Cities Speedway.
Donny Schatz will also compete in his late model with the Northern Late Model Racing Association (NLRA) at River Cities Speedway on Friday and again on Saturday night at Red River Valley Speedway. Schatz swept both the World of Outlaws and NLRA races at River Cities in August of 2013. Schatz raced his late model last week in Winnipeg, picking up a top-10 finish.
Donny Schatz is the current World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series point leader on the strength of a series-leading 10 A-Feature wins. David Gravel and Brad Sweet are currently tied for second. Gravel has eight wins this season, while Sweet has been victorious four times. Daryn Pittman is currently fourth in the standings, with Shane Stewart just behind him in fifth.
The remainder of the top-10 in points is Jason Johnson, who has a pair of victories, rookie Sheldon Haudenschild, Logan Schuchart, who has three wins, Joey Saldana and Jason Sides. Also on the road this year is Paul McMahan, Kraig Kinser, Greg Wilson, Jacob Allen, Clyde Knipp and rookie Brent Marks.
Plenty of starts
Jason Sides and Paul McMahan have competed in most of the previous World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series events at River Cities Speedway. Sides has made 17 starts, while McMahan has 15. McMahan has record 12 top-10 finishes, while Sides has nine top-10 runs at the track.
Up to speed
Brad Sweet, David Gravel, Shane Stewart, Jason Johnson and Greg Wilson have only made a limited numbers of starts at River Cities Speedway, but each has run up front at the high-banked bullring. Sweet has five top-10 finishes at the track in eight starts. Gravel has made seven starts at River Cities Speedway and has been among the top-10 in five of those races. Johnson finished fourth in his debut at the track in 2015 and ran seventh in August last year at the track. Stewart has a trio of top-10 finishes, including a third-place effort in 2015. Wilson has one top-10 finish in four starts at the track.
Logan Schuchart, Jacob Allen and Clyde Knipp are the three youngest drivers on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series circuit. Schuchart has made five starts at River Cities Speedway and has three top-10 finishes, including runs of third and fourth last year. Allen has also qualified for five main events at the track, while Knipp made his debut at River Cities Speedway in 2016.
Sheldon Haudenschild and Brent Marks, who are battling for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award, will each be making their first trip to River Cities Speedway, as well as his first trip to the state of North Dakota.
Mark Dobmeier made a late-race charge last August at River Cities Speedway to finished third, as he continues to chase that elusive World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series win at his home track. Dobmeier, who is the winningest driver in River Cities Speedway history has three career victories with the series. Also expected to compete in the 1st Leg of the Gerdau Recycling Northern Tour at River Cities Speedway is Cap Henry, who pilots the No. 82 Buffalo Wild Wings machine for the Blazin’ Racin’ team.
Tickets for both legs of the Gerdau Recycling Northern Tour for the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series events at River Cities Speedway on Friday, June 16 and Friday, August 18 can be purchased online or by calling 815-344-2023. Tickets can also be purchased at the River Cities Speedway track office, area ticket outlets and at the track on race day.