Logan Schuchart’s car was as wide as his eyes in the last lap of Saturday’s United Rentals Patriot Nationals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. With $15,000 on the line to the winner and a hard-charging James McFadden behind him, Schuchart ran a perfect lap around Charlotte’s high-speed, four-tenths-mile oval to pocket the cash and claim one of the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars’ most coveted trophies.
Schuchart, who started 14th in the feature, was far from a contender in the early stages. Polesitter Kerry Madsen lost the lead to Kraig Kinser, who led most of the early going before Donny Schatz passed him on Lap 16. Kinser gave chase – but Schatz appeared to have the win in hand before his right-rear tire went flat. In came Brad Sweet, who suffered a similar fate.
The final laps became a battle of right-rear tire survival. While Schuchart sensed he had enough grip to finish the race, McFadden came out of nowhere to enter the battle. McFadden – substituting for the injured Kasey Kahne in Kahne’s No. 9 – had a fresh right-rear tire after needing a change early in the race.
McFadden got to Schuchart’s rear exiting Turn 2 before Schuchart created enough of a gap to hang on by 0.104 seconds at the finish. Madsen rebounded to finish third with Dave Blaney fourth and Giovanni Scelzi, Friday night’s feature winner, fifth. Kinser ended up ninth. Schatz came back to finish 11th.
LOGAN SCHUCHART (Race Winner): “You can have a good idea of how much tire you have left, but those last couple laps, it stuck and it still felt like I had grip. It was funny because that (tire) started off used. I’m pretty sure it was on the rack from last year because we didn’t want to waste a new tire starting 14th, but it didn’t matter tonight. I’ve got to thank Drydene Performance Products, NGK Spark Plugs, my grandfather and my team. They all do a fantastic job. It’s been a great season. … I didn’t know who was behind me (on the last lap), but I knew some guys who had problems probably had a new tire. That last lap, I came off Turn 2, I heard another engine … I was going to make it as wide as I possibly could.”
JAMES MCFADDEN (Runner-Up): “Everyone started looking after their tires after the first couple of (cautions). I figured we had nothing to lose. I’m not here to points chase. I kind of used my left rear up a little bit too much. I thought I waited a little bit on Logan in (Turns) 1 and 2 and had a good enough run going into 3. He just did a really good job. I’m pumped with second.”
KERRY MADSEN (Third-Place Finisher): “We had a great race car. We kept getting caught out of position. Congrats to Logan. When James (McFadden) went by, I thought he had a harder tire on. I didn’t know he went with a two-stop strategy, but it’s a great race for us. It was a great night overall.”
The South Eastern Crate Association (SECA) Late Models kicked off Saturday’s festivities with a door-to-door, fender-banging battle that saw Michael Brown emerge victorious. It was a great night for drivers with the last name “Brown” or “Parton,” as Furman Parton followed Brown to the finish line with Dillon Brown and Gray Parton in third and fourth.
Joshua Bishop completed the top five.
“I hope the fans liked that,” Brown said. “I drove my butt off those last few laps. It was a fun race. I’m just fortunate to have great people behind me. That’s important in this sport. We really worked our butt off, me and my dad, to get to this point. It’s an awesome feeling.”
Tickets to Sunday’s 60th running of the Coca-Cola 600 are available by visiting charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets or by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267).