TULARE, Calif., March 16 — After dazzling the veterans on Friday by winning the dash and leading most of the feature, Shark Racing’s Logan Schuchart posted his best finish ever in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series on Saturday night at Thunderbowl Raceway. The rookie from Hanover, Pa., passed veteran Terry McCarl with just three laps to go and went on to finish second to Rico Abreu in the 35-lap feature.
Schuchart, a contender for the prestigious Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by ButlerBuilt, started sixth in the 24-car field with his #1s, which is sponsored in part by Your Auto Source NAPA Autocare Center, Pell’s Tire Service and Marty Thompson. The 21-year-old driver got fifth at the start by passing David Gravel, and moved into fourth with an inside pass of veteran Sammy Swindell working lap three.
Cody Darrah flipped in Turn 2 with 11 laps down to bring out the first of two red flags in an accident in which Mike Faria was also involved. At that point the top five drivers were Abreu, McCarl, Joey Saldana, Schuchart and Swindell.
McCarl bicycled his car in Turns 1 and 2 on the restart, allowing both Saldana and Schuchart to get by. The action stopped abruptly again with 13 laps down though when Trey Starks flipped in Turn 1 in a crash in which Kyle Hirst was also involved.
McCarl and Schuchart fought hard for third on the restart and the ensuing laps, and when the action paused again with 15 laps down the scoring monitor gave McCarl the position. That yellow was for Dominic Scelzi, who stopped on the one-third-mile dirt track with a flat right-rear tire.
Schuchart maintained fourth place from lap 16 through lap 30. At that point Faria had a problem in Turn 4 and Saldana, who was running second, was forced to spin in order to miss hitting him. It was a heartbreaker for Saldana, who had to report to the rear for the restart since he stopped on the track, but it was one more position for Schuchart, who now moved into third behind Abreu and McCarl.
Schuchart threw everything he had at McCarl on the restart, and he was able to pass him with a move to the outside going through Turns 3 and 4 working lap 33 to take second place. Schuchart set his fastest lap of the race on that lap with a 14.129, which was the third-fastest lap posted during the race.
Time then ran out, and Abreu had a 2.975 seconds margin of victory over Schuchart at the checkered. McCarl finished third, 1.280 seconds behind Schuchart. Swindell and Brad Sweet rounded out the top five.
Earlier in the program Schuchart qualified eighth with a time of 13.268 seconds. He started second in the second heat and led all eight laps, taking the checkered 2.089 seconds ahead of local driver Craig Stidham. Saldana, Donny Schatz, Lucas Wolfe and Paul McMahan were the other qualifiers from that heat.
There was no inversion for the dash and there was also no passing in that race. Schuchart started sixth and finished sixth in that six-lap race to earn the sixth starting spot for the A main.
“It definitely feels good to run this well here,” Schuchart said afterwards. “It’s good for our team. Congratulations to Rico; he drove a great race.
“I wish we would have had one more yellow at the end to have a shot at the win, but I’m happy to run consistent this weekend,” he added. “We were fast and we’re happy to be where we’re at.
“On that last restart I knew the top would be good,” he said. ‘I didn’t know if I could get Terry McCarl or not, but it worked! It was definitely fun!
“Our team has limited funds and we’re small,” he noted. “My grandfather and David French are working on the cars, and another friend named Dave from home has been helping. Another friend from home, JB, really helped us in Las Vegas when we crashed too. It’s really a team effort, and we appreciate everyone’s help.
“We want to thank the sponsors we have too,” he added. “It’s great that so many Shark Racing fans are following us this year. We wish all of them could be with us!”
Saturday’s race was the second half of a two-day show. On Friday Schuchart earned the first WoO dash victory of his career and led 22 laps of the 35-lap feature to post his first top-10 finish of the year. He had never competed at this track before; in fact, this is his first trip to California ever.
The series now travels to the Stockton 99 Dirt Track in Stockton, Calif. for a race next Saturday, March 22. At the end of the month the action is at Merced Speedway in Merced, Calif. on Friday, March 28 and Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif. on Saturday, March 29.
Shark Racing, which is owned by National Sprint Car Hall of Fame member Bobby Allen, one of the original outlaw drivers and Schuchart’s grandfather, is sponsored by the following:
Your Auto Source NAPA Autocare Center
Pell’s Tire Service
Don Ott Racing Engines
Rich Fogle Custom Pole Buildings
Newman’s Towing & Recovery
CnB Mushroom Farms
Dirt: The Game
Lisa Alwine and Silpada Jewelry
Lebo Skin Care
Tony Stewart Racing
SR Lubricant Solutions
The team, Schuchart and Allen have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, and Schuchart has a Web site at Shark1s.com.
Free audio coverage of all WoO races is available on Dirtvision.com, as well as pay-per-view coverage of selected events